If Abbey Springs were a perennial flower, it would currently be residing in some sort of hall of fame for perennials. It would have a plaque by its unwithered blossoms, and the plaque would eloquently, but scientifically, state that the flower has defied all natural inclination to die when it was supposed to only to come alive again at a later date. There is a cycle in the perennial world, and a cycle in the real estate world, and both plants and property tend to follow relatively cyclical patterns. While I can enjoy the blossoms of a hydrangea in July, I’m well aware that come December the plant will be reduced to a collection of unshapely wooden stalks, resembling nothing of the plant that earned my admiration mere months before. But Abbey Springs, whether I had looked upon it over recent years in July or January, it always looked the same. Always with a pleasing blossom and a green trunk, giving away nothing that would lead you to believe there was any winter coming, ever.
I’ve written about this often over the years, the phenomenon of Abbey Springs and its stubborn refusal to give in to a broader market trend of overall softening. I’ve been confused by it at times, as periods of 2009 that appeared so dark it was all but certain we would never find our collective way back to the light and the accompanying stability we were seeking, there remained one Abbey Springs. In full bloom, oblivious to the market surrounding its gated borders, aloof in a way, but pressing on, reassuring buyers and assuaging sellers, it was a stalwart of a market. And it still is, to some extent, it’s just that today, as I scan the MLS, there appears to be not a single home or condominium pending there. This dry spell isn’t cause for alarm, rather it’s possibly a quick admission by the market that Abbey Springs may not be immune to the broader trend after all.
The broader market is a bit soft at the moment, more so than it was earlier this year, even though it still has plenty of time and opportunity to rebound before 2011 is out. The quiet spell in our vacation home market is expected now, but should be increasing starting this week and into the next if we are to follow fall patterns from preceding years. There have been 12 sales YTD in Abbey Springs priced from $155k to $505k. This isn’t entirely dissimilar to 2010 where the YTD total was 14. What is striking is that 2010 saw three single family sales in excess of $548k by this time last year, and this year we haven’t a single lofty sale yet. It’s not for lack of inventory, as of the 31 active properties in Abbey Springs today 7 of them are priced over $500k. Abbey Springs finished 2010 with 17 total MLS transactions, a number that I’m not confident can be reached again.
Is this a break in the considerable momentum that Abbey Springs has gained over recent years? Doubtful. But it is a market taking a breath that it has long needed. Perhaps sellers will view this momentary silence as an opportunity to reduce prices, which will, in turn, tempt a few more buyers into the market. There is reason to believe that the association dues are a touch exaggerated in Abbey Springs, though I’m assured by owners that the dues are well worth it if you, as an owner, are utilizing the facilities to their fullest potential. If you want to come to Wisconsin to sit in the woods, Abbey Springs will gladly oblige your deciduous desires, but your money is probably best spent elsewhere. If you, however, vacation as you work, which is to assume that you do both aggressively, then Abbey Springs might be the best thing you’ve ever imagined. With a gorgeous 18 hole golf course that is assuredly capable of breaking Tim Allen’s fragile heart before dawn, Har-Tru tennis courts, and indoor and outdoor pool, two restaurants, sand beach, private piers, and exercise facilities, it’s obvious that Abbey Springs is an unparalleled option if it is activity that you seek.
Even with all of those vacationing options, the dues are a bit lofty, and the association would do well to reign in their spending while maintaining the quality of the grounds. Just as state and federal governments are, in theory, battling budget crises and some are responding by making tough, unpopular decisions to right sinking ships (thanks Scott Walker), small associations would be wise to do the same. Several condominium developments in the area have assessed their owners to such a degree that their properties are not viable in the marketplace, and Abbey Springs should pay close attention to their monthly dues if they wish to continue to be the preeminent condominium development on the shores of one Geneva Lake.