Blog : New Listings

Basswood

Basswood

Large homes tend to have similar problems. When designing a custom home, there is one usual and obvious limitation. Budget. But this is when you’re designing a normal house, something you’re trying to make fit into a particular lot and a particular segment of a particular market. What if we throw out the limitation of market segment concern? What if there is no budget? Still, a singular problem exists. The design. If the wife sews and the husband smokes cigars, then a large house design would dictate that a sewing room and a cigar room be incorporated. Let’s put those at opposite ends of the house, the architect says. And let’s not forget about the children and their children. Those loved ones need space, too. And little Karen just loves to make beed necklaces, the kind that tourists buy when on FunJet vacations. Karen, your beed room is down this hallway, across from the twelve bedroom suites, opposite the cigar room and above the sewing room. This is the large house problem, and it’s an epidemic.

The home at 4396 Basswood Drive is large. Some 15,000 square feet above grade, large. That’s a big house. To enter it is to know it’s big. The gate is big. The guest house is big. The lawn is big. The circle driveway is big. The fountain? Big. The grand foyer is as grand as any foyer has ever been, outside of a building designed for members of parliament.  While we cannot ever mistake this house for being small, what’s important here is how logical the big is. The layout of this house is symmetrical. Nearly perfectly so. There’s a lakeside kitchen that spans the width of the lakeside pool. There’s a breakfast room, a formal dining room. The sunroom on the east end of the house takes in private views of lush perennial gardens. The great room is vaulted, soaring really, as high as it should be and not a penny higher. The fireplace in the lakeside great room is one of five that you’ll find here.  I always say if you think one fireplace is good then you’ve obviously never had five.

We have 3.28 acres here, which isn’t any particular feat on this lake. The level nature of the entire property from entry to water is what’s rare here, as most 3.28 acre parcels on Geneva will suffer from some variety of cliff or ravine or other slope. There is none of that difficulty at Royal Oaks, which is what this estate has been called since it was first constructed in the early 1990s. Royal Oaks. That has a nice sound to it, but it would be overwrought if we didn’t have a lot graced by so many large oaks. The frontage is as the rest of the estate parcel- level.  The 214′ of rip rapped shore line is level, but not so level that the water event of this week troubled its shoreline in any way. The pier is large, two slips worth, centered so properly on that wide frontage.  The lakeside patio holds an in-ground pool, just like you know it should. Any proper estate should have a guest house, and as we know, these are not all created equal. The guest house here is large, with three bedrooms and more garage spaces. You’ll find seven total garage stalls on this property, so please do bring your summer car and leave a winter one any stall you please.

So why would someone buy this home? What’s the market argument in favor of such a property, of such a large manor style home? To understand the answer, first consider the land. At present, the lot is easily worth $4.5MM. Perhaps as much as $5MM. To build a home of this size, a cost of $500-800 per foot would be expected. After all, this home cost all of that back in the 1990s when it was first built. The time to construct this home exceeded two years, which it would still today. The paint here might not be to your perfect palate. The kitchen would today want marble. The carpeted areas would now like hardwood, maybe stone. There are things here you might wish to change, things I’m guessing you’d want to change. But the change is easy considering the house itself is built. The scale is perfect. Those upstairs bedroom suites? Each bedroom measured 19 x 19, with some larger. They’re perfect, they’re lakeside, and there are seven of them in the main house.

Unlike homes built in the 1980s and before, homes built in the 1990s generally follow a nice pattern of scale. At least this home does. The layout is, as I said earlier, symmetrical and well thought out. There is nothing wasted here. No rooms for superfluous specific uses. There is just a large house that has been well taken care of, ready now for you to use immediately and enjoy, or ready for a tidy winter surface update.  The choice is yours.  Spare yourself the uncertain prospects of building a new estate. Spare yourself the years of construction. Spare yourself the unknown cost overruns. Buy this home. Enjoy your weekends here, in immense style, on Lake Geneva’s luxury lane. Basswood. $9,750,000.

New Elgin Club Listing

New Elgin Club Listing

It’s the word Club that throws people off. There’s some significant confusion in the market regarding the Elgin Club. Is it a Club? Well, sort of. Is it a co-op? Like the Harvard Club or the Congress Club? Not at all. The Elgin Club tends to get lumped in with these membership style co-ops, if for no other reason than the name. Elgin Club. Sounds like a club. Sounds like a co-op. But it isn’t. Do you know what it is? It’s a lakefront association with private lakefront homes. That’s it.

But is that really it? Is that all the Elgin Club is? A group of homes, each owning private frontage and nothing more? Well, no. That’s not at all what it is.  The Elgin Club also offers 16 wooded acres that are collectively owned by these lakefront owners. This land offers a beautiful tennis court, a private wooded drive, and land for garages. There’s also a full-time on site caretaker who handles the lawn and road maintenance.  That’s what helps make the Elgin Club a unique place on Geneva Lake. Sure it’s private frontage and private piers and that lovely north shore exposure, but it’s also a caretaker and tennis and convenience that other lakefront homes just can’t offer.

My new listing isn’t too difficult to understand. It has five bedrooms and five baths. It has hardwood floors and a fireplace. It has a lot of things that you’d expect, but that’s not the rare bit here. What’s rare is what you can buy here for $1.975MM. This is an entry level price in our market, and what you’re buying here is far from entry level. You get 50′ level frontage. There’s no hill to descend- not from the road to the house or from the house to the lake. There’s a two car detached garage. There’s at least 3600 square feet.

There’s also a new roof for this season, but now it just sounds like bragging. The Elgin Club isn’t like every place on the lake. But it isn’t unlike every other place, either. That’s why my newest listing will sell quickly. It’s everything a lakefront buyer could want in this price range, but it’s also more.

 

Jerseyhurst

Jerseyhurst

As an agent, there are certain streets around this lake that I revere. The streets that don’t encourage visitors. The streets that don’t offer up their homes with any version of regularity. The streets that are better than the others. Some of these streets you already know, but others you don’t. You don’t know them because they’re not like Snake or Basswood or one of the streets we know we should respect. These are the other streets, the short ones, the curvy ones, the ones that you don’t even know because why would you?  Welcome to Jerseyhurst Lane. The street so polished that you should always call it a Lane.

When the original caretakers cottage for the Crane Estate was built in 1885, it was long on charm and low on space. It wasn’t meant to be a lake house, a mini-estate, it was just intended to serve as a resting place for the family charged with overseeing the day to day at the large Crane estate. A place to eat dinner and a place to sleep.  Each room with a view of the lake, but, alas, there was no time for contemplation in this cottage. There was work to be done.

This original cottage was restored some in the late 1990s, and then in 1999 it sold to the current owner. This new owner had designs for this special location, and so a meticulous renovation with sizable addition was undertaken. Chris Hummel would be the contractor to oversee this work, and when the last wide-planked oak board was polished, the new owners had found themselves extra bedrooms, a large kitchen and attached garage, a large office,  and an ample great room with lakeside screened porch. The renovation was complete, the home perfect, or so the new owners thought.

More than a decade later, another idea, another plan to fix something that the house lacked: A first floor master bedroom. Sparing no expense, a spacious master suite was added, blending perfectly with the prior addition, which blended seamlessly with the original cottage.  The landscape here is Midwestern perennial perfection, fully irrigated and wonderfully large (nearly one acre). The lakeside porch has those incredible views and a steady breeze, while the brick patio is tucked privately into the lush backyard. A two car attached garage is augmented by a two car detached garage, leaving plenty of room for any car or toy you’d like to store.

The first floor master bedroom is luxurious, with separate tiled shower and soaking tub, double vanities and his & her closets. The are four other bedrooms here, each large and all but one possessing an en suite bath. The first floor den has it’s own bath, too,  and while the current owner uses this as a study, you’d be forgiven if you turned it into a TV room or an extra bedroom.  There are four fireplaces here, those wide planked oak floors, and character that you rarely find in such a unique location.

The house sits up away from the lake a ways, allowing rare privacy and continual quiet. The 50′ of lake frontage and private pier is shared with just one neighbor, though this home has exclusive rights to the canopied slip. There’s a 26′ Chris Craft Continental that calls that slip home, and though you’re allowed to put a new Cobalt into that slip, there’s something about the Chris Craft that perfectly matches the laid back style of this large lake house.

Today, this home has found its way to the open market, with an asking price of $2.895MM. It will be sold quickly, I do believe, so you’d do well to consider a tour of this home if you have any interest at all.  Streets like Jerseyhurst have been lining this lake for over a century, but rarely does a street like this extend to the public an invitation to ownership.

Equestrian Estate

Equestrian Estate

I rode a horse once. It was an unruly horse, wild maybe. I was all of 12 years old and I was riding on the back of this wild beast; a girl who I fancied held the reins. The horse ride was uneventful for a few moments, until a sheet of construction debris blew up in the wind causing the horse to jump and jolt. I fell to the ground, awash in shame and roadside dust. I have never ridden a horse since. But this isn’t about me and my horse situation, this is about a new listing of mine, a listing that represents a bit of a departure from my norm. This horse property isn’t on the lake, obviously. It isn’t right next to the lake, either. It’s about 15 minutes from Fontana and once you arrive you’d be forgiven if you thought I transported you to Lexington. This is one heck of an estate.

If you’ve never looked for a large swath of available land in Southern Wisconsin, then it would be impossible for you to understand just how rare this offering truly is. Several decades ago, a world renowned physician spent untold hours and uncountable dollars assembling this sportsman’s paradise. A passion for Peruvian horses and a desire to create a first class equestrian facility fueled this remarkable effort, and today this amazing estate is for sale. While the property must be toured to be fully understood (watch the video), you can see from these photographs that this is not your normal Wisconsin equestrian property. This is a significant retreat for any outdoor enthusiast.

Here we have more than 278 acres of contiguous farmland, woodlands, and pasture; with a flowing stream winding through it all. The house is large and upgraded, the grounds immaculate. There’s a pool and tennis court, a guest cabin and more. The horse facilities themselves are among the finest you’ve ever seen, complete with indoor riding area, conditioned stables, office space for facility managers, and a pastures galore.

Dry Creek flows through this property and divides the woodlands from the pasture, creating wildlife habitat that has been undisturbed for decades. Hunters will enjoy the upland fields and heavily wooded hillsides. Trails are cut through much of this property for horse riding or perhaps just UTV riding. If you’ve been looking for the ultimate Wisconsin retreat that can offer you a little of everything, this is it. If you’ve been looking for a first class equestrian property less than 90 minutes from Chicago, well you’ve found that, too.  Offered today in the high $2MMs.

Loramoor Opportunity

Loramoor Opportunity

On Monday, I said goodbye to an old friend. I met this friend when I was ten, maybe twelve, sometime around then. This friend was with me through it all, through the good times and through the bad.  We ate together, we laughed together, we chewed steak together.  Alas, this relationship wasn’t meant to last, and on Monday it ended.  It was one of my very favorite teeth, one way in the back, one that I used often. There was no tooth better. But on Monday it was unceremoniously yanked from the back of my mouth and I barely had time to say goodbye. That’s why I didn’t write on Monday.

But today is Wednesday and I’m over that weak tooth. Today is about Loramoor, and about decisions, both good and bad. Like all that candy I ate when I was a kid, and the dentist who decided to drill out every last bit of that poor, deceased tooth.  Today is about the decision to buy a tear down and build yourself a brand spanking new lake house. What a wonderful thing, this new house. It’ll be large enough and fancy enough; it’ll be perfect. You’re not one to live in someone else’s house, you’re the sort that wants your own house, with your own stamp of style and taste. I cannot blame you, as I, too, have built new homes and enjoy nearly everything about living in a new house.

Over recent years, this building boom has touched every bit of our vacation home market. The tear downs that make the most sense are on the lakefront, of course, where properties can be bought with regularity for land value. New construction on the lake makes sense most of the time, but for every two tear downs that make sense there is one that doesn’t. Tear down a house on 100′ of frontage and build new for $2MM or so? Usually a great idea, depending on the location of those 100 feet.  Pay $1.5MM for a house on 50′ of frontage and tear that down? Not usually all that smart. Off water, the same sorts of mistakes are made. Buy a cottage in Knollwood up the road from the lake for $300k and tear it down? Terrible idea, unless you’re looking to stay put for most of eternity.

But the segment that is most interesting when it relates to tear downs is the mid-market of lake access homes with boat slips. It’s not uncommon for a buyer to pay $400-600k for a house in a neighborhood like the Lake Geneva Club, or Hunt Club Lane, or Glenwood Springs, and then tear the house down. In fact, it happens with some frequency. A home on Hunt Club Lane sold in 2013 for $659k. It was a unique house, odd really, with an acre and a half of land and a boat slip.  The lot was not especially close to the lake. That buyer tore the house down and built new, effectively paying $659k plus demolition cost for a vacant lot.

This is one example of a phenomenon that occurs all over this lake, and it’s occurring more and more now that the market is high on buyers and low on inventory. Even the homes that aren’t entirely razed are generally the recipient of some form of major renovation. That’s why the new listing I have in Loramoor makes complete and utter sense. My newest listing is a level vacant lot measuring just under one acre in size, with a transferable boat slip in East Loramoor, a slight lake view, and a location on Loramoor’s dead end lane.  As opposed to the Hunt Club property that was far from the water, this lot is one off the lake (see map above). The asking price is $750k, no demolition required.

On the lakefront in Loramoor, I sold a beautiful lot last fall for $2.075MM. That lot will host an incredible new home this summer. Three doors to the West of my new listing is the old Loramoor stable house. This house was in poor condition for years until an enterprising buyer purchased it and fixed it up. That home is now for sale in the mid $1MMs.  I sold the house at W3036 South Lakeshore last fall for $1.625MM, that with a slip in Loramoor, three acres and a pool. The market context for this Loramoor listing is complete and it’s thorough and it proves that high valuations can and do exist here.

You could purchase a home in Shore Haven for $500k and tear it down. You could. People have. But what you’d be doing is building new in a neighborhood that has a cap of around $850k.  The same is true for the Hunt Club example. It’s rare to have a lake access neighborhood support built value to the mid and upper $1s, but that’s exactly what Loramoor offers. Consider this lot. Consider a new home, built near the water with a slip and a swimming pool and a most exclusive address.  It makes solid market sense, and it’s available today.

New Lake Geneva Club Listing

New Lake Geneva Club Listing

There are certain houses that are, for one reason or many others, better. They might not be gilded with gold, or polished to the highest diamond shine, but there’s just something about them. They’re welcoming. They’re cozy. They aren’t big but they certainly aren’t small. They have a presence, which is something that most homes lack. Most homes are houses; wooden or stone structures with some walls and a roof, capable but not endearing. My newest listing in the Lake Geneva Club is the sort of house that you remember, because it’s a special house on a special street and everyone knows it.

You’ll may remember this house from when I sold it several years ago. I sold this house quickly, likely because of the intangibles that the home possesses but also due to the tangibles. There are three bedrooms here, with a room that functions as a fourth. There’s a screened porch and two ample patios. There’s a double lot with loads of parking. There’s a deep water, fully transferable boat slip. There’s a wood burning fireplace. Yes, for all of the intangibles of style and grace wrapped in a lovely vintage bow, there are fundamentals here that make this a terrific lake house.

I’m not going to write much more today. This house will sell, and it should sell quickly. At $609k, there’s nothing else on the market that competes directly with it. There are no other homes for sale in the Lake Geneva Club. If you’re a buyer who wants to feel something towards the lake house you buy, then come see this house with me, and make it snappy. This won’t be available in the MLS until Tuesday, so you’re getting a first look, and I do hope you’ll let me know if you have any interest.

New Geneva Lakefront Listing

New Geneva Lakefront Listing

The thing about entry level lakefront is that it’s entry level lakefront. It’s not fancy. If it were fancy, it wouldn’t be entry level.  Entry level exists in increasingly fewer locations on Geneva Lake, due largely to the fact that often times buyers of entry level lakefronts transform those once modest, affordable homes, into something entirely different.  If you’re a buyer for an entry level lakefront, this generally means you’re on the hunt for something priced below $1.5MM. In that segment, there are things you can expect but mostly things you shouldn’t expect. Like garages and level frontage. Entry level buyers rarely have a chance to buy those.

W3298 Park Drive in Linn Township isn’t going to win any design competitions. It’s a nice house, with nice enough things, but fancy it is not. There’s a concrete driveway, fresh landscaping, and a beautiful lakeside paver patio. There’s a terrific H-slip pier, traditional and sturdy. There’s some new siding and a newer-ish kitchen and three bedrooms and two baths. There’s plenty to like. But the rare bits are not those bedrooms or the bathrooms or the stack washer/dryer in the hallway closet. The rare bit, if we’re looking for entry level lakefront, is the 60 feet of dead level frontage and the existence of a two car garage. These are, in the context of entry level lakefront homes, among the most rare amenities.

The house should sell rather quickly in this current market. The renovation of this house, should a buyer choose to improve upon what it is today, would be fairly painless. It’s a simple house without a lot of moving parts. The layout is normal, which, if you’ve looked at entry level lakefront homes for some amount of time, you’ll recognize as being unique for its plainness. There are no spiral staircases here. There are no rooms that you’re not sure what to do with. There’s nothing here that doesn’t make sense. It’s just a house with a big garage and a completely level lot, with 60 feet touching Geneva Lake. The views, as an aside, are among the best on this lake. Facing towards the City of Lake Geneva, the lake here is wide and round, lovely.

If you’d like to tour this home, just let me know. But if you do want to see it, you should probably do so sooner rather than later.

New South Shore Club Listing

New South Shore Club Listing

There was nothing like it in 2002 just as there is nothing like it in 2017. A lakefront community engineered to attract high end buyers, in a high end setting, on this, our high end lake. It was a fresh take on lakefront living, combining the traditional layout of the Congress Club, albeit on a much more impressive scale, with the sheer size and quality of a true lakefront estate. The South Shore Club might have been a bit before its time in 2002, but by 2013 its time had come. The market saw this development and recognized just how special it was. Buyers who might otherwise buy a $3MM piece of dirt on Geneva were instead inclined towards buying a $3MM house with all of these rich amenities and so much style. Today, a blast from this short-term past.

The Original Vacation House, or so it was then called, was built by Orren Pickell to encompass all of the best that the South Shore Club could muster. The lot was special, set into the woods on that East side, but still prominent and capable of delivering a unique lake view. The style was lighter, brighter, more intricate, more involved, and as time wore on there was one house that kept looking new and ideal. It was this house, the Vacation House, the house that had all of the toys and all of the upgrades. The house was sold originally as a spec home, and enjoyed from that day until this day by the current owner. Alas, the property has run its course and the family has decided the time to move on has arrived. Today, I offer you the Original Vacation House, as wonderful now as it ever was then.

But it’s better now than it was then. The market has enjoyed consistent sales over the last five years, and so the faith that the initial buyer displayed way back in 2002 is no longer required of a new buyer. It’s just a beautiful house and fits the market, and it fits the style and it’s ready to be sold. The home has been lovingly maintained, and as the construction on either side of it is complete, there will be no disruption to the new buyer’s summer caused by backhoes or nail guns. The finishes as what you’d expect, with Wood-Mode cabinetry, Sub-Zero and Wolf kitchen appliances, Rohl fixtures, Lutron whole-house control, and more. The South Shore Club is complete, it’s functioning as it was intended, and it offers a lakefront buyer a luxurious retreat at a fraction of what such a home would cost on private frontage.

That’s really what the South Shore Club is about, by the way. It’s not about an association home with association home amenities. These homes were built and the association was designed to stack up against private frontage competition. If you have $3.275MM to spend on a lake house, you cannot buy anything of any reasonable scale or quality possessing a good amount of private frontage for that number. To put it another way, this new listing in the low $3s, if given a 1.5 acre lot and 100′ worth of frontage, would easily sell in the $5.5-6MM range today. You’re not paying lakefront prices for a South Shore Club home, you’re paying a discount to that cost and you’re achieving a much easier vacation home experience.

What’s easier? Well, all of it. Boats are included, no need to buy, maintain, and depreciate your own. The pool is there, included, a lifeguard as well. The tennis is there, ready, green with clay and ready for you. The lawns are maintained, the snow is plowed, and in the winter, if we have a winter with some normalcy, there’s an ice rink, too. The South Shore Club doesn’t just give you a lakefront experience, it gives you that experience at a discount, and it allows you, the owner, a much more convenient and leisurely weekend experience.

For today, consider this new offering. It’s wonderful and it’s available and I’m ready to show it this weekend. If you or anyone you know might be interested, please do let me know. Sometimes I list homes that I know require a tremendous amount of creativity to sell. Other times, I list a home that I know will make my job considerably easier and just sell itself.

New Glenwood Springs Listing

New Glenwood Springs Listing

In the world of collector cars, an untouched car with original paint, matching numbers, and original factory features is a very desirable car indeed. The car is valuable because it hasn’t been molested at some point in its long life. It wasn’t repainted in the 1980s, or outfitted with a new engine in the 1990s. It never had new upholstery stitched into it, or an MP-3 player cut into the dash. It’s a perfect example of the intended appearance and function, preserved. The car is worth more not because of what was done to it, but because of what wasn’t done to it.

3-glenwood

640 Linden Avenue in Fontana’s Glenwood Springs doesn’t have a lot of new paint. It doesn’t have a shiny new kitchen and the bathrooms are basic. The house has original wood floors throughout. The screened porch is as built, large and wide and perfect for lounging.  The exterior is still the original stucco, strong and thick, never having been stapled through with the cheap aluminum of the 1960s or the vinyl of the 90s. It’s an original home, with five bedrooms and two bathrooms, with a two car garage and plenty of off-street parking.  The fireplace of cut granite is rare here, like finding the classic car with the fuel injected engine. Sure, we know fireplaces like this exist, but rarely in off-water homes. This home shows its pedigree through two clues- that fireplace and the ample, generous width of the staircase. Two features not common in typical Lake Geneva cottages.

2-glenwood

But this isn’t a typical home, and the location just one home from the lake isn’t typical either. The views, they aren’t typical. And the private, transferrable pier? Well that’s so far from typical that it’s not even fair to mention in the same stanza. That pier isn’t a straight little pier, just able to hold a tied up boat. It’s a traditional H-slip, Lake Geneva style pier. It’s white and it’s big and you’ll love it, assuming you own it. In fact, you’ll love everything about this house, but that will require some motivation on your part. It’s November, sure, but it was 77 yesterday and this house is just available this week, so gather your Lake Geneva summer dreams and drive to the lake. Come see this house with me. For $899k,  it’s a substantial house that the last handful of decades never wrecked, and in that, there’s value.

700 South Lakeshore

700 South Lakeshore

There are homes that you know. Stone Manor. You know this place. You know the Driehaus property and the Wrigley cottages. You know where the Pritzker’s live at their Casa. You know lots of houses, and you know this house, too. It’s big and it’s white and it’s by Stone Manor and if you’ve walked the shore path, well then you know it. There’s nothing wrong with knowing houses, because we all know them and we all pride ourselves on that knowledge. It’s hard for me to break this to you, but I know more houses than you. And I know this house, because I’ve been in it and I’ve seen it and it’s been for sale before. That’s why I’m not going to introduce this new listing to you today as a house that you don’t know. I’m introducing it to you as a house that you already know, but you likely don’t understand.

To be fair, I didn’t understand it either. It’s a huge house, massive, really. Too big for most, but somehow probably too small for some. The lot is big, but not overwhelmingly so. It’s just under 4 acres, with 160′ of frontage, so it’s large enough to be estate sized but not so large that you’re left wondering what to do with all that land. It’s close to town, so close you can walk there without first considering your footwear, but not so close that you hear the busy hum of the tourist choir. It’s private. Exceedingly so. Terrifically so. Yet it’s close. The sun sets in the West, this we know, and this house faces west, this we still know. The pool is lakeside, facing west, which is how a photograph like the one above can happen. The thing is, it’s not a rare picture. It’s not hard to take or hard to time. You just need spend any old evening at this house and wait for the shadows to grow long and the sun to dip over that western shore. 700 South Lakeshore doesn’t have to try very hard to be unique, it just is.

But of the house, past the gate and past the tennis court and not yet to the pool and the pier, the house. It’s a big house, big enough. It was built in 1996, and judging from my Senior Year yearbook the style in 1996 wasn’t exactly what you see today. The house is somewhat dated, with cherry where there would now be oak, and tile where there would now be marble. The thing about this house is that someone could buy it today and move in tomorrow and be remarkably happy. Or, someone could buy it today and do a surface remodel tomorrow and by next summer they’d be even happier. Would you rather remodel an old house, or a newer house? The question is as most of the questions here, not specifically meant to be answered.

This is a special property in a special location, and I know it now more than I ever did before. I know it because I spent three hours at the house last week with the videographer, making this video that you see here and watching that sun fall to the west. I sat on the covered porches, which are among the finest covered porches on this entire lake. I lounged on the poolside chairs, delighting in a pool that faces the lake in such an unavoidable way. I thought about how that walk into town is so short, so easy, and how the pier is sturdy and white and the landscaping a mirror of perfection. I thought of the gate and the tennis and the densely wooded grounds, and how the privacy was equal to the privacy I might find off some skinny drive in some middle section of Linn Township. And then I thought about this house, how I thought I knew what it was all about but that I really had no clue. It’s $6.495MM, it’s light years below replacement cost, and it’s available today as my newest lakefront estate listing.

Pleasant View

Pleasant View

When you see a wolf, it’s best to tell someone. See something, say something, they always say. That’s why that little boy cried Wolf! Except that he didn’t actually see one. He did this several times, and at first there was great alarm. Run inside and save the children! But each time the boy was lying because he was a liar. And so it went, until after some length of time the people stopped listening to his warnings. Wolf! He’d cry. And no one would even listen. Then one day the boy cried, Wolf! And no one cared. Except this time there was a wolf and as I recall the little boy was eaten and no one was particularly sad.

If I told you every house was a gem, I would be as that boy. I would be as every Realtor since the invention of the gold jacket and the end of year watch giveaway (You’re all top producers! You get a watch, and you get a watch, and you- well, not you, Leroy). But I don’t tell you that every house is special, because not every house is. Most houses, as a matter of fact, are quite terrible. They all work for someone, and in that a raised ranch by the interstate can be content. Someone will buy you. Most houses are boring, honestly. They are plain and they are utilitarian and there’s a kitchen and some baths, also bedrooms. They function, but they lack sizzle and sex appeal and there’s little to them beyond their ability to keep you dry and warm on a rainy November night. Most houses are boring.

GEB10

With that in mind, you can imagine the delight I feel when I bring a house to market that is special. A house that not only will keep you dry on that rainy night, and warm on the cold January morning, but will also inspire you and deliver you to another place the moment you walk under the covered porch and in through the front door. I’m aware of how hyperbolic that sentence sounds, and in most cases, it would be simply that- Realtor fluff. But this house can receive the accolades and then hold up to the scrutiny. This house, my newest listing, is worthy of every bit of praise I can muster. This house, in a sea of boring houses that serve only the most basic of functions, is a standout.

GEB20

Pleasant View is in Glenwood Springs, just one home from the water, perched in the tall Oaks and Maples that rise high above the lakefront park.  If this home were in its original condition, we’d applaud it for being vintage, for being a survivor, for being cute and charming. But we’d also ridicule it for what it lacks, because old houses lack. That’s why the owner of this home undertook a significant and all encompassing renovation in the mid 2000s and finished in the year 2008. During this renovation there was no stone left unturned. Nothing was ignored. Every detail was completed. The foundation was old, and so the house was elevated and a new foundation poured. As we all know, new foundations allow for new radiant heat in the floor, and so that’s what was done.  What is unique here is not the renovation, what is unique is the attention to high end detail that was poured into every fit and finish. The end result is perhaps the most stunning Lake Geneva cottage I’ve ever seen.

GEB13

And I’ve seen a lot of them. Inside this four bedroom home you’ll find bath fixtures by Kallista, Shaw, and Hans Grohe. Waterworks tile abounds. Built ins and wood paneling and so many custom crafted bits of millwork and wall treatments, indeed there are too many to list. The kitchen is as fine as any lakefront kitchen on this lake- Shaw and Wolf and SubZero.  The upper level features two bedrooms- a guest room with an en suite and a master bedroom. This is no ordinary master bedroom. It’s complete with soaring ceilings, an en suite bath outfitted with the finest and most stylish fittings imaginable, and a lakeside sun porch with full view of Geneva Lake.

GEB23

Downstairs, two more bedrooms, another full bath (Waterworks, of course), a full wet bar (with SubZero refrigerator, of course), a wood burning fireplace and walk out to the patio. The house is controlled by a Lutron lighting system with remotes, a Crestron whole house audio system, and low voltage exterior landscape lighting that artfully illuminates the perennial gardens that surround the home. Speaking of outside, the lakeside outdoor shower is a hit with guests of all ages.  Lest you assume this is just a perfect house in Glenwood Springs, we have that lake view from several rooms, that ideal proximity to the water, and at the lakefront our own private pier. Access to the association swim piers are yours, but that white, wooden, private pier is yours exclusively.

GEB21

There you have it. The most idyllic lake cottage that Lake Geneva can offer, and it’s yours for $1.275MM. In this market, buyers have paid far more for far less. And that brings us to this whole idea of a lake house. What are we looking for? Why are we drawn to the lake? Why do white cottages with hydrangeas make us feel like things are going to be okay?   The answer to each question is the same. We’re looking for an escape. For a chance to live a few days each week in a manner and way that’s completely opposite from all of the other days. We’re looking to be transported to another time, to another emotion, to another way of living. At Pleasant View, the escape isn’t something you have to strive for. It’s unavoidable.

New South Shore Club Listing

New South Shore Club Listing

Within the South Shore Club, there are several market segments. First, the homes up front. The homes on the water. Those are the kings of the SSC. There are four homes that play that way, and those homes have demonstrated that they sell at premium prices. Then, the second tier homes, those from the lake to the pool, but not behind the pool. Too close to the pool isn’t ideal, so you’d like to be close but not too close. The difference is subtle. Then, behind the pool. There are normal lots, and one special lot, but mostly the behind the pool properties fall into their own segment. Then, finally, the homes on Forest Hill Circle. Those homes lack lake views of any real variety, and so they generally sell in the $1.5-1.9MM range. I have the only vacant lot available in the SSC listed there, and I just dropped the price to $598k. If you’re interested in building in the SSC, that’s your chance. G6

But if you don’t want to build and you don’t want to have a limited lake view, and you don’t want to be right on top of the pool, you’re in luck. N1592 Lakeside Lane is on the market as of yesterday, and my newest vacation home listing offers a multitude of benefits for the $2.99MM asking price. First off, you’re in front of the pool so the view is rather divine. Secondly, you’re close to the pool, but you’re not too close. This matters. Thirdly, the house is pretty huge at 7700+ square feet. It’s wide and it’s deep and there are all of the rooms you’re expecting and then a few extras. It’s long been known that the South Shore Club offers superlative finishes, but there are several homes that do not stack up to the original, more ornate, more luxurious builds. This home is as ornate as it should be, as luxurious as you want it to be, and positioned in exactly the right spot to find some favor with the market.

If you’re unaware of the South Shore Club’s rich list of amenities, a recap for you. Boats, they’re included. There are lots of them and they’re nice and when you’re an owner here you just reserve one for the day and time you’d like it, and then you go for a boat ride. There are dock hands (the only context that calling a pier a dock is acceptable, by the way), so if you’re a novice boater you have plenty of help with the process. There is a swim pier, a dedicated, quiet pier, far away from the boats, so if you want to indulge Geneva Lake in the way that it prefers, you can jump right in and swim. If you’re less inclined and need the chlorinated comfort of a pool, the South Shore Club has you covered. There’s also a fire pit with grill area for parties, a tennis court and playground, and in the winter if the weather is right you can ice skate on their association rink.  Also included in the dues is your lawn and driveway maintenance, making ownership here an absolute breeze.

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The market has, over the past 24 months, eliminated any doubt about the future of the club, leaving behind a normalized market that lines up nicely with lakefront inventory. In the SSC you can buy a home for $2.99MM that would cost $4MM or more if set on even a 100′ lakefront lot. If you’re in search of a lakefront home and you’re disenchanted with the inventory in the $2-5MM price range, consider this new listing. High attention to detail, enough space for everyone, and a view that rivals that of most private lakefront homes. Pack this into the amenity blessed environment of the South Shore Club and you’re set.

New Lakefront Estate

New Lakefront Estate

This lake is lined with $15MM houses. There are others at $20MM. Some, still at $12MM. Several at $17MM. There are estates that the owners likely value at $30MM. Some will say they are priceless, which we know is untrue even if it is a nice thing to say about something. Everything has a price. And on Geneva Lake, the trend has been cemented: Build for $20MM, but rarely buy for more than $8MM. Buy land for three or four or five or six, and then build without restraint and without pause. The while we’re at it numbers add up and the time wears on. Summers are lost. When the house is done, the grounds landscaped, the last hydrangea dropped into the last hole, the tally feels immeasurable. But it isn’t. It’s measurable, it’s quantifiable, and it’s a number that would make every personal accountant cringe. While it makes sense to buy vacant land and build with some measure of restraint, this has not been the trend. The trend is to fill a lake with $15MM homes even though the lake cannot, and likely, will not, ever support that value.

On Pebble Point, there is a home. It was build just a few years ago of slate and stone, the exposed timber and gas lanterns lending an architectural style rarely executed with this level of perfection. Inside, quarter sawn oak has been made into floors, trim, doors and so much custom cabinetry. Onyx and marble and quartz grace the counters and floors. Fireplaces, seemingly too many to count, each of limestone and formidable masonry. The house is a beautiful house, no one could argue this.  But this isn’t a big house built on some normal property- this is a beautiful custom home built on 3.3 wooded acres culminating with 224′ along the water’s edge.  This is the rare combination of estate land with an estate home, and it’s available today as my newest listing for $9.95MM.

There is little in this home that isn’t pleasing. The layout, it’s divine. The exterior spaces- those  bluestone patios and that lakeside screened porch- scaled exactly and as comfortably as they should be. The finishes are the new luxe, that mix of traditional and modern that lends a freshness to an otherwise traditional aesthetic. Think sleek finishes in natural materials, decorated simply but with high quality everything. The light fixtures are playful yet bold, fun and modern and appropriate at once. The house is the brain child of renowned Chicago architects- a group that has drawn this and two other marquee homes on Geneva Lake.  But I’m not going to go on and on, even though this is admittedly my tendency, I’m just going to leave this video here for your viewing pleasure. The home fits this lake, it fits the market, and it makes perfect sense for any buyer seeking to build new. Why build new and spend $15MM on something that won’t be as nice as what I can sell you for $9.95MM?

Lakewood Estates

Lakewood Estates

I was the first broker to try my hand at selling the new Harbor Watch condominiums on downtown Lake Geneva’s waterfront.  I believe the year was 2002, because I was at that building for an open house when my wife called to tell me she was pregnant, and my son was born in 2003. So let’s assume it was 2002. The market back then was humming, the sky, some wondered, was it really even the limit? The market was ready for new things, for bold things, and with condominiums listed in the million dollar range, we were offering both. I hung on to that listing for a year, maybe less, maybe more, and I didn’t sell any of them. Buyers wanted fireplaces (we had none), they wanted more privacy (we had little), and they wanted to pay less (not happening). We offered a product that the market wasn’t ready for.  During the two or three years that followed my listing tenure, the building sold out, at prices less than we had originally wanted but still, sold.  The market caught up with the product, and the product made some price adjustments to hurry up the union.

Last year, I introduced Lakewood Golf Estates to the market. There was some initial interest, some slight interest along the way, and then, over the winter while the project sat off market, some more tepid interest. There was interest, sure, but no one bought anything. In that, I failed the development because the market didn’t respond. Late last year, just before the listing was to drop from the market to refresh, we made a bold price shift. Lots that were $450k would now be $250k, and in that, the developer listened to what the market had been telling us all season. We were priced too high, too soon, it was just too much of a gap between the market’s expectation and our price point.

Today, I’m bringing Lakewood Golf Estates back online. The prices are reflecting those huge discounts to last summer’s ask. The development is one year older now, the trees one year stronger, the gate now nearly completed.  When you ask a buyer to envision something there is always a risk. The buyer might envision something different than the developer, different than the agent, and in that interpretation of what might be, a sale can be lost. Now, we’re back, we’re done, and we’re ready to sell these lots. There are just 16 lots in total, which you’ll recognize as being a reasonably low total. I’m anti- mass development, as everyone by now knows, which is why this development fits my eye so well. It’s small, it’s exclusive, and it’s representative of the type of properties that vacation home buyers wish for at Lake Geneva.

To recap what we have here, it’s a development on a golf course, but that’s where the similarities to golf course developments begin and end. The golf course here is the private, member’s only Lakewood, where there will be a maximum of just 50 members allowed (per current membership information). The course is a full 18, and it’s complicated and simple at once, with the 75 acre private lake playing a large role in many of the golf holes. I’ve played the course often, and have set a course record for most balls lost, which is better than not owning a course record at all. The golf is good, but that’s not all we have. There’s a private, member’s only clubhouse, and access for owners to board horses in the on-site barns. We have pastures galore, and one needn’t be a horse lover to appreciate the way a grazing horse swooshes his tail on a summer afternoon. The lake itself is an attraction, too, with 75 stocked acres that kids and adults alike will find pleasure in fishing. It’s a great lake for practicing sailing in small scows, and for paddle boarding and kayaking and canoeing, etc and etc.

If you took a flier on this last year but didn’t like our pricing, come back for another look. It’s a unique development minutes from downtown Lake Geneva, and I’m of the opinion that the prices are finally correct. If you’d like a private tour that includes a round of golf on the house, let me know as I’m happy to oblige.

South Shore Club Lot

South Shore Club Lot

Increasingly, buyers build what they want, where they want, oblivious, either ignorantly or happily so, to the fact that their build is pricing them right out of the market they’ve chosen. This happens on the lake quite often, but it doesn’t matter. If you’re a lakefront buyer and you wish to build a $12MM home that you might someday wish to sell, it might not matter that you’ll only get $8MM for your home.  There was a recent article in the Wall Street Journal on this topic, and to spare you the click, it basically explained that if the super rich want a $2MM workout room, or a $1MM master bath, then that’s what the super rich get. In the same way, wealthy folks might buy a yacht for $20MM that they’ll someday trade in for $7MM, assuming they’ve kept good care of it.  This is why the super rich can do what they please; because it just doesn’t matter.

But when you tear down a home in Cedar Point that you paid $300k for, this should be something we first think about. If $300k is the land basis, that’s fine, assuming you’re on the parkway or somewhere otherwise special. If you’re in the back of Cedar Point, that’s nice, but that’s not a location that I’d like to cement $300k in land cost.  Then, with $300k locked, you build the home for another $400k. It’s a nice enough home, after all, and those marble counters aren’t free.  When the house is done your neighbors gather and everyone gushes. They might not have done that black tin ceiling in the kitchen with those red accent walls, but still, they applaud your remarkable, or at least memorable, sense of style. You’re proud, but you’re also $700k into your home, so when you come to me to sell it I’ll get to deliver the news: No one feels like paying over $500k for a far off water home in Cedar Point.

This is why we have to be smart, and we have to be aware of our surroundings. The South Shore Club might have a higher price point than most associations around the lake, but the theory remains. Take into consideration your surroundings and build accordingly.  When I was selling the vacant lots in here like so many free hotcakes, some existing owners were none too pleased. Why would I undercut the market like that? How dare I! But what they didn’t realize was that the market dictated those vacant lot prices based on the ability to resell the built inventory.  When I sold a built home near the pool for $1.8MM, how could the lot next door be worth much more than $500k? If the home cost $1.2-1.6MM to build, the vacant lot couldn’t really be worth $1MM anymore. The market set the prices and we responded accordingly. The result was a market that has since benefited tremendously from market based pricing.

Today, I have another vacant lot in the South Shore Club coming to market. It’ll be available next week, but because you’re smart and aware, you know about it today. The lot will be priced at $649k, and it’ll be the only lot available in the South Shore Club. Because it’s the only lot available, some owners would like to think the lot could be worth $1MM. It’s the only one available! If you want to play ball in this stadium, this is the price you’ll pay! If you can’t afford it, look somewhere else! These are the utterings of sellers who don’t understand markets. These are the words of sellers who would rather price something at an unattainable level because they have failed to separate their intense love of their own property with the actual conditions affecting their property.  I don’t like sellers like that, but I like sellers like this one in the South Shore Club, because our pricing, even when offering something that is otherwise unattainable, makes complete market sense.

So there you have it, the South Shore Club, back in play. If you thought you missed it, you didn’t. Get in now. You could buy some existing house in the South Shore Club, sure, in some boring location with some odd features and strange this mingled with absurd that, or you could buy this lot and make your own retreat.  If you love huge master suites, go for it. If you need a dedicated ping pong room, who am I to argue? If your wife needs a quilting room because she quilts, so does mine! Once, for a few minutes.  Whatever your aim, bring it here. To the South Shore Club, where I’m offering you a mulligan.

New Ideas

New Ideas

I can’t imagine a life where I am forced to sell terrible real estate. Real estate itself, the business, is bad enough, but if I were forced to sell things that were ugly or otherwise horrible, I shudder to think of that life.  Somewhere, in some town, right now, a Realtor is waking up to his schedule. He has six showings today, all properties in the $90k range, because $100k is just too much. If he’s lucky today and he sells one, in two months time, after working through the inspection issues and considering the lender hangups, he’ll close on that $88k sale. If things go well, he’ll make a paycheck of $2112. Then he’ll split that gross with his office, and he’ll walk away with $1372.80. They won’t round up. He’ll pay taxes on the income and when all is said and done, he’ll have a little change in his pocket for some of that first morning, before the check is spent and he’s hunting down the next one. This is real estate in America.

So yes, I’m lucky. I’m fortunate to have a client base that owns some of the most amazing lake properties here, which are some of the most amazing lake properties anywhere. I have buyers that count on me to guide them through this inventory, and I have other buyers that I haven’t met yet who are reading this and should, as of pretty much right now,  make an introduction so I can help fix their summer. But in this mix of lakefront and lake access properties there are other things that I do as well. Not things that I do often, nor things that I do particularly well, but other things. That’s why I brought over another agent to work with me on these other sorts of properties that haven’t, until now, been right for me. Vicki Hansen is my new licensed assistant, and she’s here to help with the condo buyers and listing projects that I’ve previously been poorly servicing.  She’s nice, so if you’d always thought about working with me but then thought, sheesh, this guy seems like a super huge jerk, then email me anyway and I’ll let Vicki work with you.

With the addition of Vicki I’ve been able to add some off-water inventory that I find interesting.  One such property just came to market yesterday, and it’s in the picture above. It’s called Simera, which means something, though what exactly I’m not sure. It’s a modern retreat overlooking the hills south of  the lake, and it’s an absolutely dynamite house.  A decade ago I wouldn’t have liked this house, I admit it. I would have thought it to be too modern, too unsymmetrical, too something else. But now I’m enamored with it, and Dwell magazine agrees. It’s a house that was designed by its owner, who is also a well known architect. It’s a new house nestled in between two original silos, and in that, there is the mix of old and new, of conventional and modern. Of form and function. At $625k, it’s not expensive.  It’s a country property that’s just a few minutes to the lake, so someone could have their country retreat, with fields of wheat and beans waving in the distance, but still make a quick jaunt to the Lake Geneva Yacht Club for Friday fish fry. It’s both things, and it’s worth a look.

Below, another new listing. This of a vintage four square in downtown Lake Geneva. The Maple Park District is just off the lake, and it’s home to many of these original Lake Geneva structures. This one is a brick fortress, with original details and finishes, updated with new this and that over the years. There’s a robust lake view, an easy saunter to town for morning coffee or evening appetizers.  It’s a home for those who love vintage things, who find peace in the age of it all. It’s an exciting location, near town and across from the lake, but the perennial gardens that the owner has nurtured over the years has left this place feeling like an oasis in the middle of an otherwise bustling resort town. Consider this property at $699k to be a way to delve into our scene without completely breaking the bank.

976 Main Street

Below, something else. Something more affordable. This four bedroom home on Jewell Drive is just up the street from Pier 290 in Williams Bay. It’s not fancy. It doesn’t have dedicated lake access. But it’s newer and nice and $289k, and you can walk to dinner and walk to the boat and walk to town and then, when you think you’re done for the day, you can walk somewhere else. It’s close to everything in the Bay, and that used to mean very little. But now,  with the addition of Pier 290, you can walk there, and you can hang out there, and that place can essentially function as your lake access.  This is an easy house, with three finished levels, a private back yard deck, and that convenient access to all lake things. If you have friends in the Loch Vista Club, Oakwood Estates, or Summer Haven,  that’s good, because this is wedged in between all of those associations and you can be close to those friends, without being on top of them.

Jewell Drive Williams Bay

 

Below, another interesting bit. This property is just $549k, offering 5 acres at Black Point Farms. It’s super close to the lake, but possesses no dedicated lake access. The Owl Tavern is close, with their smoked meats both delicious and tempting. The house is large, the property ample, the opportunities endless. That’s not entirely true. There are ends to these possibilities. For instance, if you wished to open a Bed and Breakfast here, I could not help you with that.  Otherwise, the opportunities for someone searching for a lake house that offers up plenty of room to breathe, those are endless here. It’s as these others, different but close, easy to join in on the lake fun but at the end of a lake based day there is a quiet retreat here waiting for you. Five rolling acres worth on Maple Ridge Road.

Maple Ridge Road Home For Sale

These are some of the properties we’ve been bringing to market of late, and as you can see, they’re varied, they’re interesting, and they’re all available for summer 2016. The thing about summer 2016 is that it’s right around the corner. Lurking, sort of, but really just standing there in plain sight. There’s no secret to this arrival. There’s no trick to understanding what’s about to happen. It’s just another summer in a lifetime of summers, but it’s the first summer that you can fix. If you’re reading this from a desk and you’re looking forward to brunch tomorrow morning, then your life makes me exceptionally sad.  Any of these homes can fix that, and I’m here to help.

New Loramoor Listing

New Loramoor Listing

Sometimes, 50 feet of frontage just won’t do. It’s tough for me to write that, but it’s true, and the market has proven it true time and time again. If you have a certain budget, let’s say somewhere under $2MM, you will generally aspire to lakefront. This is good. This should be your goal. But lakefront under $2MM can be difficult, troublesome, remarkably underwhelming. That’s why buyers often turn to the off water market in hopes of finding something in this range, and many times, they find something reasonably nice.  They find a cool house with a pool, like my sale last summer in the mid $900s on Main Street. Or they find a super fantastic house for $2.2MM without a pool and without a slip, like the one that sold in Knollwood last year. Or they find a house without a pool but with a slip, and they pay $1.35MM for it because it’s sort of nice and they like it, which was the case recently of a sale off Maytag Point.  Buyers don’t always want private frontage, because they want more house or more land or more charm than lakefront on a budget can offer.

Loramoor Lake Geneva

Good thing for these buyers, because I just listed a new property in Loramoor.  Loramoor is a fantastic association, whether on water like my vacant 110′ lakefront lot ($2.34MM, buy it and be smart), or if you’re off water in one of the association homes.  But while off water has some association homes, and they are all desirable and generally worth $1MM+, they are not all created equal.  My newest listing is at W3036 South Lake Shore Drive, in Loramoor. That address should tell you something. This home isn’t inside the association off the primary drive, rather it’s located directly off of South Lakeshore, with 3.3 manicured acres and a private gated entrance. This home has nothing to do with association living as we know it at the lake. This home is an estate, with a house and grounds that qualify the lofty assignment. At $1.895MM, it can be yours.

Loramoor Lake House

The property itself does tell much of the story. There’s the brick pillared entry with gate, the private drive, the 3.3 private acres. But there’s also a detached garage, measuring at least 3 cars worth with a finished upper level for use as an office or bunk room or studio, should you be an aspiring artist. There’s an in-ground pool surrounded by an intensely large stone patio. There’s an outdoor kitchen with grill and refrigerators and enough counter space to entertain as many people as you see fit. There’s that lawn, that huge, sprawling lawn, and there’s a water fall feature that you’re not expecting. The small playhouse is finished as well as many homes that I sell, though it’s small, so it’s a playhouse, and it’s doubtful your children or your friends’ children will appreciate the wainscoting on the ceilings.

The house itself is roughly 5000 finished square feet, with six bedrooms and five bathrooms and a three car attached garage.  The house is formal in design, but supremely functional as a lake house for a large group of family and friends. The kitchen is appointed nicely with SubZero and granite.  It opens out to a breakfast room, which opens to a screened porch, which commands a spectacular view of the pool and grounds.  The upper level is loaded with bedrooms, some owning their own bathrooms. The master is on the main level, which is good in the event that your knees have been bothering you. The lower level is a game room with wet bar (for easy pool service), and of course there’s a bedroom and bath down there as well. The space walks out to that backyard where the action is.

Loramoor House With Pool

But this isn’t just a nice house on a nice lot somewhere near the lake. It’s a house that’s part of Loramoor, so I have a transferable slip here and a slight lake view from the property. If you’ve thought about lakefront here, or looked for something off water under $2MM, this is the house that you should come see. It’s unlike anything in our market, and it’s ready for immediate use. Summer is coming, and it’s coming soon. Ready or not.

New Fontana Lakefront Listing

New Fontana Lakefront Listing

It’s no particular secret that buyers like Fontana. If I have 100 lakefront buyers call me this year, there’s a strong chance that 75 of them may specifically ask to be in Fontana. Why this is I cannot be certain. I grew up in Williams Bay, to the north of Conference Point, to the south of Gage Marine. I pumped gas at Mel’s Gas Pumps. I pumped gas and forgot money, a condition that I only discovered once the last drop of gas was pumped into my father’s Boston Whaler.  Mel was forgiving, so long as I hurried home and hurried back with the few dollars I owed him. I explored the wild woods of Conference Point, and climbed the bent and broken willow that sticks out at a difficult angle from the very tip of that point. Because of this I am familiar with Williams Bay and that familiarity has blossomed into nostalgia and that nostalgia means I would be more inclined to buy real estate in Williams Bay than in neighboring towns.

976 14

Fontana has, for eons, been home to many cottages. Glenwood Springs, Country Club Estates, Buena Vista, Indian Hills- these associations are loaded with homes, many of which used to be rental cottages.  As a result of this, many would be buyers were first introduced to the Lake Geneva scene by way of Fontana. Chuck’s and Gordy’s played a role as well, with many first beers consumed at Chuck’s, and many first boats bought at Gordy’s. This prior familiarity is possibly a reason why people love Fontana. Or it might be the new streets, the new lights, the new beach house, the quaint and tidy nature of it all. For whatever reason, Fontana is king.

 

971 1

 

976 South Lakeshore Drive is just East of Fontana, just East of the original Westgate property, in fact, on the original Westgate property. The tell is the old (but fantastically and beautifully remodeled) cut granite boathouse tucked into the hillside at the water’s edge.  The entry gate is of the same cut granite. The home that resides there is not old, rather it’s somewhat new in the context of lakefront homes on Geneva. It has four bedrooms,  high end bathrooms, an upscale kitchen, a huge lakeside deck, a screened in porch, and a most remarkable view of the lake. A view so remarkable, that upon deciding to list the home with me this week, the owner questioned her own sanity.  Are we crazy to sell this?

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Today, 976 South Lakeshore is on the market for $3,395,000. The home is fresh, clean, updated and ready for summer. The boathouse is at home among the finest on the entire lake, perhaps the finest? The pictures prove the statement.  The pier is large, two slips worth, and the frontage is wide, 142 feet of meandering flagstone shore path providing a clue as to the beginning and the end of it.  Four bedrooms, four baths, a full boathouse with living area and storage, that huge wooden pier, that Fontana location, it’s all unique and rare, but that view, that view is the extra special bit. Elevated just enough, but not too much, this home is, as I mentioned, positioned adjacent the original Westgate home which means the homes to the immediate West are set back, far out of view. The result is a view that extends over that manicured lawn and all the way to the Fontana beach, then again back to the East all the way past Cedar Point to Black Point and beyond. Yerke’s and Conference Point fall in between. Now that’s a view.

976 13

The home won’t be on the MLS until later this week, but today you know about it. You know about it because you have the good sense to read this blog, because you know by doing so you’ll know what the market is doing before the rest of the market does. I’m showing this home today, and I’ll be showing it this weekend as well. If you’d like to have the opportunity to own this piece of the lake, you’d do well to let me know. Here you can walk to Gordy’s for a lazy Sunday lunch, or walk to the Lake Geneva Yacht Club for fish fry.  You could do those things, or you could just sit on that couch and quietly take it all in.

Woodhill

Woodhill

By now, everyone knows Basswood. It’s a street on the lake, or it’s the street on the lake, either position is acceptable though the latter is preferred. On a  lake where there’s little uniformity of parcels, it’s obvious that there would be little uniformity of value. A large home here, a small home there. Some giant estate here, a small house next to it, on top of it. There’s not much by way of consistency here, and in that lack of consistency there is character. Like finding anonymity in a crowd, Geneva is a group of different things that all make up a rather magical whole.

But Basswood is one of the last few enclaves of near perfection in design, perfection in purpose, and perfection in execution. The large lots have, for the most part, been spared the subdivider’s stakes. Subdivisions like Oak Shores never broke up the expanse. It’s just a street with large lots, most in the 150-200′ range, and impressive homes. It’s also the street that’s anchored on its Eastern edge by Woodhill.

You likely don’t know this estate. It isn’t in the guide book and the captain of a slowly chugging tour boat won’t point it out. The family that owns Woodhill isn’t named Wrigley or Schwinn or Maytag. They’re just a family that decided many decades ago that this 4 acre wooded parcel on Basswood was a great place to call home. And so it went, a generation raised summering on this shore, on that Basswood shore. A generation spent playing in the woods, slopping through the stream, catching frogs and fireflies and diving from the long, white pier. Life was good at Woodhill for all who had the privilege of calling it home.

Woodhill Basswood Lake Geneva

In the early 1980s it was decided that the old cottage that had played host to so many family weekends for so many years would need to be replaced with something bigger. Something modern. Something better, perhaps, but mostly just something, more. The new house was designed by the owner and his architect, an owner it should be mentioned, who was a contractor and real estate investor who knew his way around a set of plans and a job site. In 1984 the new Woodhill was born of brick and concrete and that cedar shake roof.  The four wooded acres and 205′ of lake frontage now played host to a brand new family home.

The new home was ample, with more than 6000 square feet of living space spread out over three finished floors. There were five bedrooms, five fireplaces (all masonry, all woodburning, of course), and an expansive lakeside patio made of the finest bluestone the owner could find. The house was built to last of flexicore and brick, with two kitchens and two wet bars, and a cherry wood library. Today, the Walnut and Oak floors glisten as new.

Basswood Woodhill Estate

Over the years, another savvy purchase. Lot 12 in the Lindens was available, and adjacent, and 1.5 wooded acres with a transferable boat slip. The lot was purchased to maintain privacy and future opportunities for Woodhill, and today, it might be the only lot of its kind that exists in the Lake Geneva market.  Off water vacant lots exist, but this lot is barely off water, with lake views and that slip and a most exclusive Lindens membership.

Woodhill Basswood Library

Today, it has been decided that Woodhill will be sold. The decision has not come easily, nor has it come joyfully, but it has come. Today, you can be the next steward of Woodhill, a sale that now includes the two tax keys of W4350 Basswood (1.93 and 2.22 acres, respectively), and the 1.49 acre Lindens lot. With 205′ of frontage, 5.65 total acres, and the ability to build another home (possibly two), this is the most compound-ready property to hit the market in years. $6,950,000 is our ask, and for that sum, your family can be the next to own Woodhill. If your ownership turns out to be even half as memorable as the current owners’,  your future generations will thank you.

New Lakefront Listing

New Lakefront Listing

When I was a kid, I’d walk to Gage Marine. It wasn’t far from my house, and so I’d walk down the shore path, across those green lawns, up those few rail road ties that worked as stairs, and I’d be at Gage Marine. The thing about Gage Marine then is that there wasn’t anything to do there. The pro-shop wasn’t so much a pro-shop as it was a place to buy those little leather pieces that hold together the eye of a buoy lead.

Today, walking to Gage Marine is entirely different. Do I like the food at Pier 290? Not particularly. Do I wish the menu was better, the food better, the burger served on a burger bun? Of course. But for those wishes it would be hard for Pier 290 to be a better place. The restaurant space, the finishes, the scene, it’s all so very nice. And so walking to Gage Marine now is a worthwhile stroll, because there is food that can be eaten and a vibe that can’t be beaten.

New Lakefront Listing Lake Geneva

The other direction, I would walk to George Williams. The camp when I was a kid was old, neglected, uninteresting. There was the ability to order ice cream from some building on campus, as there is today, but that was about it. There was nothing else to do there. My brothers and I would explore the hills of Conference Point camp, digging into the earth that was exposed when the hillside gave way to erosion. We would find gold, or some rocks that were gold in color, which one we were never certain. But George Williams was there and it was boring even though the hills were full of gold.

Today, I can walk to George Williams to listen to the Music By The Lake series, an outdoor lakeside venue where you’re just as likely to hear Some Guy And His Trumpet as you are Tony Bennet or Peter Frampton. The campus has been revitalized, completely and entirely, and I believe you can still get ice cream somewhere.

138 Conference Point New Listing Lake Geneva

My new lakefront listing at 138 Conference Point Road is close to both of these newly reborn attractions, an easy flip-flopped stroll to either, within minutes. Think that’s not important? Try strolling to restaurants and musical venues from most lakefront homes- you’ll  find the task nearly impossible. The house has 103′ of frontage, a large two slip, canopied pier, and a very well maintained three bedroom ranch with a two car attached garage and a walk out lower level. But it’s less about the house here and more about the views. I’ve sold many lakefront homes with fantastic lake views, but the general rule here is that the better the view, the higher the frontage. The reason is obvious. The magic of 138 Conference Point is that the frontage is gently sloping, nearly level, and yet the lake views are absolutely second to none. The views are to Cedar Point, Black Point, Majestic Ski Hill, and points beyond. It’s a peninsula view without the peninsula, it’s tree top view without the hike. It’s a perfect view and the view, house, 103′ of frontage, and the two fireplaces are yours for $2.385MM.

 

 

New Lake Geneva Listing

New Lake Geneva Listing

There are many reasons to frequent this blog. If you wanted to know what my latest hobby is, for instance. How else could you know? You could call me and ask, but what a ridiculous precedent that would set. After all, the internet was invented to connect us without forcing the awkwardness of connection on us. You could read this blog to understand the Lake Geneva real estate market, to know the nuanced movements of pricing and to dispell the concept that every home is a value, every sale a good one.  That’s probably the primary reason to read this blog, though if you’ve been reading along for a while you’ll know that maple syrup season is upon us, which is followed closely by morel season. Still, the markets.

Today, there is no talk of skiing, or of fungus or of fish. Today, just new inventory for you to peruse. One of the terrific things about private frontage is that every variety of private frontage is generally good. Now, there are good spots and bad spots, but even the bad spots on Geneva are better than the good spots everywhere else, so that’s somewhat of a nuance. The other thing about private frontage is that it’s varied. Some lots are wide, others narrow, some deep others shallow. There is no pattern to the frontage until we confine certain types of properties into segments. If we’re talking entry level lakefront homes, we’re talking about smaller lots (60′ or less) and we’re talking about neighbors. Lots of neighbors.

 

Dartmouth Distance

 

Consider the map above. This is Dartmouth Woods. I love Dartmouth Woods. It’s a quaint lakefront association with nice homes and terrific proximity to Fontana and Williams Bay. It’s also tight. The home that just sold last week (a home I really like) for $1.226MM is shown here, with the approximate distance from that home to the neighboring homes. The homes are close, but that’s what entry level lakefront usually looks like on this lake, and that’s absolutely fine. Now consider the map below:

 

South Lakeshore Distance

 

That’s the location of my new listing on South Lakeshore Drive. It’s a five bedroom modern house listed at $1.395MM. It sold for $1.515MM in 2007, and it’s rather nicely updated with new bathrooms and a very flexible layout. It has a slip on a pier that is share by only seven total owners, and this house functions as the lakefront house in the association. But that’s not what’s especially rare here. Consider the proximity to the neighbors, and the quality of the neighbors. To the East, Casa Del Sueno, to the West, a fabulous newer build on a massive lakefront lot. This is a setting that is, quite literally, unavailable to any other entry level home anywhere on this lake. It’s special.

South Lakeshore 2

 

I’ll be available to show this home this weekend, so just ask if you’d like a private tour. I’ll be skiing tonight, but you didn’t read this blog today to find out about that. You read this blog today to find out about this listing before the rest of the world new about it.  You’re welcome.

 

Loramoor Lakefront For Sale

Loramoor Lakefront For Sale

My kids like to make time-lapse videos. Some people make time lapse videos over the course of an entire day. The sun comes up, quickly, then it moves across the sky, quickly, and then it sets, quickly. It’s a full day, quickly. My kids don’t make time-lapse videos like that. They make ones that last a few seconds, that feature them doing such interesting things as standing still, or sitting at the island counter. Their videos are terrible. I’d like to see a time-lapse video of the lakefront on Geneva, say, over the period of the last 20 years. It would be fun to go back 100 years, but also very depressing, as grand old homes were razed to make room for subdivisions and associations. If we did have that 20 year video, we’d see new construction abound. All varieties, some small and some large, others monstrous. We’d see large homes wedged next to small homes, and small homes delicately crammed next to large homes. We’d see all sorts of things, and in the haphazard nature of it all we’d see uniformity.

LORAMOOR AERIAL

The magic of Geneva is found in this mix. Old and new, small and large, alternating along the shoreline. But one thing is certain- if we had our druthers, we’d position like kind homes next to each other. We’d have sections of the lake where estates rule the day, and we have that on Snake Road. We’d have areas where large lots rule, with large homes and estately prices, and we have that on Basswood and North Shore Drive.  We’d also have a tidy, dead end lane where large lakefront homes are spaced well and appropriately, where one new home is not out of place next to another.  We have that in Loramoor, and today, you have an opportunity to join that most exclusive lane. Enter Loramoor Lot 7, the obvious solution for any house hunt that finds a buyer seeking new construction in the $4MM or less price range.

I sold this lot a year ago. There’s no secret in that. I sold these 110 level front feel to a buyer who simply couldn’t find what they desired in our existing home market.  We have a noticeable absence of quality homes in the $3-4MM price range. We have plenty of nice properties, terrific lots with old, bad houses, or terrific houses on sub-standard lots. In this parcel, the buyer found what they wanted in the existing vacant land, and knew they could build the exact lake house that would scratch all of their weekend itches.  At 1.43 acres in size, the lot is larger than similar properties that have sold in the last few years as tear downs, and since it was already vacant there would be no added cost involved with deconstructing an existing home. The property was perfect, and unlike others in this range, it is surrounded by ample homes of newer birthdates, very obviously a secure location to add value in a new build. Compare this to a vacant lot in the $2MM price range that’s located next to smaller, lesser priced properties. It makes more sense to have a $3.75MM house next to other houses of equal or greater value and here, in Loramoor, we have that.

 

Loramoor Lakefront Parcel

 

The buyer set about permitting and planning, but when a childhood home was available for purchase, the pull of that powerful nostalgia was too much to resist. The Lake Geneva dream would have to wait, and it’s for that reason that I offer you this wonderful parcel for $2.34MM, available today and ready to build your own dream home on without delay.  The owner has been working with Scott Lowell to design the perfect lake house, and to the right buyer we can include those plans. A sneak peak of the elevation is above, and while you’d be well served to build this home on this beautiful lakefront parcel, you’re free to design your own if you so desire.

 

Loramoor Survey Shot

 

You can buy 100′ lakefront lots on this lake with some routine between $1.9MM and $2.5MM. These lots will host older, lesser homes, and if you like the older home and intend solely to remodel it, then you’ll be making a wise decision. But all too often these older homes are sold and torn down, and in that we must consider our surroundings. If you build a $2MM home on a $2MM lot, and you’re surrounded by $2MM built homes, do you suppose that’s usually a terrific idea? Of course not.  There’s safety in building in a  neighborhood with a proven tendency to support your target value, and that’s why this Loramoor lot is better than the others in this price range. There is no association immediately adjacent, no shared driveway, no sloped frontage or rough landscaping. There is only a beautiful canvas, grassed and treed and ready to host your lakefront vision. At $2.34MM,  there’s value here, and if you’re a buyer in the $4MM range you owe it to yourself to consider this parcel as your first, and finest option.

Because you’re super smart and reading this blog, you know about this property before the rest of the market does. It’ll be available to the masses next week, but in the mean time, I’m happy to show it this weekend should you desire. dave@genevalakefrontrealty.com