I have been wrong before. I was wrong when I waited until the fall of 2006 to list my last home in Geneva National, as the market slipped through the summer and fall and my “wisdom” cost me at least $75,000. I was wrong in 2001 when I thought that the South Shore Club would be a dud- even though my prediction slowly appears more accurate as time passes and the development stalls on the resale market. I was wrong when I was in 7th grade and I knew kids were stealing pop out of the pop machine by snaking their skinny pre-pubescent arms past the mechanized guard and I didn’t tell the teacher. I was wrong when I figured the Cubs would win game 6 of the 2003 NLCS, and I was wrong when I thought Michigan would understand what sarcasm is. I was also wrong when I said that Abbey Springs would probably have a tough 2010.
As of today, there have been 7 year-to-date sales in Abbey Springs. There are an additional three properties pending sale, which will bring the total to ten possibly before the end of June. For a little perspective on those numbers, consider that the YTD sales total in 2009 was 4, and the YTD total in 2008 was only 3. The market in Abbey Springs continues to defy my housing logic, and in these cases, I am glad to be wrong. I was not glad to be wrong about assuming that Alex Gonzales would field a routine grounder and propel the Cubs to a World Series appearance. You’re right, I’m still bitter.
Pricing at Abbey Springs plateaued a little later than the broader vacation home market at Lake Geneva, and has slipped different percentages depending on what type of property within the association you’re looking at. Alpine units, the two bedroom stalwarts of the Abbey Springs development, have probably only fallen around 10% from their one time high’s in the $340k- $360k range. Yvette Somerville, one of the agents in the Geneva Lakefront Realty fold who has joined me in my search for Lake Geneva vacation home market domination, just closed on an Alpine unit last week for $310k, which is in line with the current Alpine price range of $305k to $335k. Most of the sales have been at levels that range from 10%-%20% off the previous market highs. This means, in my humble opinion, that Abbey Springs has fared better than the broader vacation home market.
I think much of the strength of Abbey Springs lies in the uniqueness of the community in this market. While typical residential lake access associations have some sort of lakefront park and pier system, Abbey Springs pushes the amenity limit and features a golf course (extra fee), tennis courts, indoor and outdoor pools, yacht club, volleyball courts, sand beach, and on-site restaurants. The price structure is also unique in the market, with prices now starting at $159k for a basic one bedroom unit, all the way upwards to $1.1MM+ for a single family home. Association dues are a bit hefty in the association, but when you consider the glut of amenities available, the fees are worth it to many buyers. A note of wisdom and restraint- only buy in Abbey Springs if you plan on using the amenities, otherwise you’re a bit of a sucker for paying the dues and not utilizing the available activities.
What to expect for the rest of 2010? My guess might be as good as yours. In spite of new found volume the prices remain well off their peak, and I expect them to stay stable for the next year or more. That appreciation-less recovery is what I think we’ll see everywhere, as an increase in buyers doesn’t mean an increase in prices. That simple statement bucks the conventional hyperventilating Realtor talking points, but I think it’s going to prove to be correct. Just because buyers have returned to Abbey Springs and elsewhere doesn’t mean prices are going to increase. It’s going to be a recovery void of any immediate price increases, and for that, buyers can be thankful.