August Market Update

This time of year things should be forced to slow down. The sun has been shining for weeks on end, and the water is clear and warm, but not too warm. We should be swimming and playing, boating and sailing. We should savor these days. But we don’t. We don’t because that’s just not how we’re wired. If we did try to savor these days, the result would be a frantic race from one savoring to another. We’d rush through leisure so that we might fit them all in, and in doing so, we’d ruin the whole thing. This is our curse.


While the summer is in full swing and fall is just a troubling thought that lurks in the back of our minds, the market has turned its eyes towards fall. While summer is apparent and obvious, there is fall in the crunch of freshly fallen leaves, in the advertisements on television, in the school items at the ends of the shopping aisles, in the promise of an arriving football season. While we bask under this summer sun and we swim through these refreshing waves, fall is closer now than it has ever been before.

The market knows this, and the market has begun its preparation for this fall market. Buyers ask me often if the fall or winter is the best time to buy. They wonder if they should wait out this sun and warmth, and buy when the leaves litter the ground and the wind blows from the north. I tell them that it is possible to get a great deal in the fall, but that the Geneva market thrives or withers based on inventory, not on seasons. If you wish to land a terrific deal in the fall, you must be willing to chew off aged inventory, opting to swoop in and relieve a lethargic seller of his aged offering. This is optimal for securing value, but it’s not as sexy as finding a fresh deal and stealing it before the market had a chance to react.

That’s why if you’re a buyer in a particular market that’s full of inventory, you’d do well to avoid the trap of seasonal thinking. If a particular piece of inventory is to your liking, you have two options. You can lie in the weeds and seize the opportunity when the snow first starts to fly, or you can seize the opportunity now. If you wait until this year is older, might you secure a better value, on a percentage basis? Possibly. If there’s another buyer that thinks that particular property is worth more than you do and they buy it in August, then you’re lying in the weeds just for fun, and at some point that’s a bit creepy.

The market has begun to reduce properties in anticipation of securing a fall buyer, and there is perhaps no greater example of this than my listing on Bonnie Brae. That house was listed some time ago by another broker for nearly $5MM. I listed it this spring for $3.399MM, and then I dropped the price to $2.99MM yesterday. This is a reduction that matters, and this is a seller looking to capture a fall buyer. As with my earlier example, if you like this house and you’re waiting to buy it in November, that’s super cool. But there are three showings there this week, which means some buyer might be close to foiling your plan.

There is new inventory coming to market on the lakefront, and some of it is very, very high quality. There are some new offerings in the $2MMs, and some in the $4MMs. There are large numbers of buyers in the market right now, and many of those are move up buyers- those who already have a vacation home here but are looking to upgrade their position in the market. These buyers are wonderful, as their buy side creates liquidity that’s immediately followed with new inventory (their old house). Geneva thrives on this sort of property exchange, and this behavior is on full display right now. As of this morning, there are at least four lakefront homes under contract, and many more offers being negotiated.

All segments of the Lake Geneva vacation home market are impressively active. There are buyers seeking homes with slips, those priced in the $450k to $850k price range, but that market has been increasingly low on inventory this summer. There are buyers looking for entry level lakefront, with showings galore in this price segment. That said, this entry level market is still full of inventory, and I’m expecting several of these aged offerings will be picked off by opportunistic buyers over the next 30 days. On an average weekend, I’m having showings on several of my lakefront listings, and a day like today finds me at three lakefront showings at two different houses. Yesterday I had two lakefront showings at two different houses, and tomorrow I have a showing at a new listing that’s not even on the market yet.

This is the schedule of a vacation home seller, and yet for all the activity and all the papers being shuffled, there must be time to enjoy this month. That’s why I’ll work today and tonight, as that sun sets, I’ll find a moment to watch it. To marvel at it. To know that the next day will bring more of the same, and this is the sort of same I love.

Above, Bonnie Brae with 2.72 acres and 102′ of level frontage. Just reduced $400k to $2.99MM.

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 $800,000,000 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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