Quick. Let’s pretend we have somewhere around $500k to spend and our singular goal is to get as close to the lake as is humanly possible. If you believed that supposition, then you’ve never sat in my car as a curious spectator to the showings that I guide. See, no one, ever, wants to simply get as close to the lake as possible. They don’t. They say they do. They know they should. At dinner parties with their friends they discuss politics and then lake homes, and when conversation veers towards the lake house and the search thereof they announce, without any intended irony, that they are looking for a home and what they’d really want is to be on, or as close to the lake as possible. They don’t mean this.
Generally. But sometimes, they do. Sometimes a home is both close to the lake and actually nice, and actually affordable. This does not happen often, not at Lake Geneva anyway. And if it did happen at other lakes, who would care? Certainly not any of us. When this rare confluence of proximity and niceness occurs at Lake Geneva, it is something to be considered, and then celebrated, and then seized. 521 Wilmette in Cedar Point Park was such a property, and the surprise today is not that it just sold for $525k to a buyer whom I was happy to have worked with. No, that’s not a surprise in any way. What is a surprise is that I listed that property for the first time last June and it finally sold this July, a year and a month after the market had the first taste of this hybrid dish.
Admittedly, the initial price of $629k was a bit stiff. It wasn’t out of line in the way that some prices are, but it wasn’t a price that the market was expected to swoon over. It was a price that reflected the pristine condition of this newly renovated home, and it was a price that was engineered to attract one motivated buyer, not legions of them. The price failed to drive interest, and while the high end nature of this house was never debated, the size of the house commensurate with the price was not an immediately effective formula. So the home lasted the past summer and rested during the past winter, only to come back to market this season and finally snag the buyer who saw what it was that they had been searching for- luxury appointments tied up in a perfect high end cottage package nestled just off the lake. For $525k, that’s a price I’d pay again and again if similar offerings were ever available.
That sale brings us to an interesting discussion about Lake Geneva real estate. Let’s say you were a buyer and you had interest in this now sold home. Let’s say you even took the time to come and see it with me, to put up with my nonsensical, yet possibly compelling, conversation. Let’s say you loved the house, and we’re saying this because I’m assuming you’re completely normal and any normal person would find it hard to feel anything for this house but love. Even so, you loved the house and you loved the countertops and you loved the location, but you thought that perhaps you desperately needed just one more bedroom. Not because you have so many children that you couldn’t possibly fit them all inside that home, but because you have a great Aunt Edna who just might come to visit you every summer, and you are many things but you are not the sort of person who would make one of your kids sleep on a couch so that Edna could have that bed.
With Edna and her once-annual visit in mind, you walked through the home and then you walked out of it. You told me you’d call but you never did. You didn’t even write. But you did think about that home some more, and you drove by it a few more times, and then, when it was all said and done you decided firmly against the purchase. You figured you’d wait for the next high end $525k cottage located one home off the lake to come to market, and then you’d be ready. But only if it had one more bedroom. Now you scan the internets, daily, and on sunny Saturday afternoons you drive to the lake to wind down lakeside roads in search of that next best cottage, the one that will be just like the Wilmette one but with an extra Edna space. This is what you’re doing, and this is just how it is.
Hopefully, if you’re reading along, you’ve now understood the error of your ways. Lake Geneva is a small volume market. Always. At all times both now and forever. Which means that when a home presents itself that hits on 7 out of your 10 purchase criteria, you’d be best served to pounce on it. To grab hold of it and smother it and own it forever. The reason you’d be smart to do this is because you don’t want to become one of those 90 percenters. You don’t want to sit on the sidelines until you find something that scores 9 out of 10 on your vacation home satisfaction scale, because to do so is to become a perpetual market watcher. You’ll become the person that never gets in your car on a Friday afternoon to head to the lake and actually stay. Except for that one weekend when you stay at the Abbey, and while the Abbey is pretty nice now, that still sounds absolutely horrible. I’d rather be staying at 521 Wilmette, like the people who just purchased it.