2020 Lakefront Condo Year In Review

For all of 2019, the lakefront condo market at Lake Geneva closed seven condominiums. That’s it. I suppose there might have been another one here or there that didn’t make their way to the MLS, or a unit in a condo complex where an uncle sold to his nephew, but as for open market participation, just six units traded. Three units at Vista Del Lago, two at Geneva Towers, and two at the Old Boatyard Condominiums. Look back to 2018 and the volume was up, with 13 total sales for that year. I provide you with these year end totals so you can understand the typical sizing of the lakefront condo market at Lake Geneva. It isn’t big. If you consider I view the lakefront market here as consisting of 12 total buildings, we essentially average one sale in each building annually, even though some buildings sit idle while others pick up their slack.

With those prior years’ volume understood, the fact that we collectively closed 17 lakefront condominiums on Geneva in 2020 is quite impressive. And why shouldn’t it have been? After all, we know the market was active at all price points and that buyers were seeking any piece of this place they could find, so the elevated volume in the lakefront condo market should have been expected. The story for the residential market in 2020 was one of increased volume and valuations, so it stands to reason that the lakefront condo market experienced a similar year. Except that it didn’t. In spite of volume being up considerably, prices were essentially flat.

That doesn’t mean that some units didn’t appreciate at a decent clip last year, and it doesn’t mean that the broad condo market didn’t receive some boost from the activity of 2020. What it means is that I think the lakefront condo market should be better. I think it should be more active. I think there should be more buyers and fewer sellers. I think that because the lakefront condo on Geneva can give buyers an opportunity to live in the front row, with a view of the lake, and often times those units get a slip, too. Consider the most expensive condo sale last year was of a Somerset three bedroom unit (not my listing or my buyer) that closed for $1.25M. Compared to the single family inventory that buyers had to pick from last year, this condo looks like a relative value. The other sales in the lakefront condo market occurred in Bay Colony, Bay Colony South, Fontana Shores, Fontana Club, Vista Del Lago, and Geneva Towers. No public sales closed last year in Bay Shore, Eastbank, Stone Manor (duh), Harbor Watch, or the Old Boatyard.

I don’t expect 2021 to feature as much transaction volume as 2020. That big boost was likely due to some left over 2019 inventory that found buyers, and we aren’t entering 2021 with any inventory. And by any inventory, I mean, like none. Zero. Zilch. I imagine that will change, but you won’t find me rooting for new inventory. The lakefront condo market has had a choppy recovery since 2009, and I’d like to see demand build a bit before inventory trickles from these different lakefront buildings. 2021 should give the condo market just what it needs, and I expect the low inventory this year will vex would-be buyers and thrill current ownership.

Above, the incredibly stylish unit I sold last year in Bay Colony.

About the Author

I'm David Curry. I write this blog to educate and entertain those who subscribe to the theory that Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is indeed the center of the real estate universe. When I started selling real estate 27 years ago I did so of a desire to one day dominate the activity in the Lake Geneva vacation home market. With over $700,000,000 in sales since January of 2010, that goal is within reach. If I can help you with your Lake Geneva real estate needs, please consider me at your service. Thanks for reading.

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