It can be exhausting to continually cheer for something for a long, long time. This is why Cubs fans were so relieved in 2016 when we finally won the World Series. I didn’t go to the World Series that year because I tragically assumed we had a dynasty on our hands and that I could just go to a game the next year, or maybe the year after. In the same way that I have cheered for the Cubs for my entire life I have cheered for the Lake Geneva real estate market. Through good times and bad, I have tried my best to convince others of the magic that is vacation home ownership here. When things were terrible in 2011, I cheered. When things were amazing in 2023, I cheered. I just cheer, man. But today I have to admit to you what you’ve likely known all along: I also aggressively root against certain pieces of real estate.
At first it was just a simple variety of hatred, really. I have always hated houses on highways or near high voltage power lines. I have never driven on an interstate or large highway and not looked at the houses near those busy thoroughfares with incredible disdain. Did you know that at the exact moment Some Person bought the ranch with the highway view there was another house for sale in the same town for a similar price that didn’t have the highway in the back yard? But then my housing hate spread, and I included in my disgust homes that were finished with lame finishes. When did “stainless steel appliances” become a luxury item worth noting in a real estate description? It was around that time that I started the hate. Did you know that people build lavish homes and then install registers over their HVAC inlets and outlets that they source for $7.98 from Home Depot? Just awful.
Then, once I had aggressively hated the highway homes and the poorly finished luxury homes, I added in specific homes at specific prices. All homes are worthy of a buyer, this is true, but shouldn’t there be a price attached to the scenario? Should any house find a buyer, even if priced foolishly? I decided a long time ago that the answer was no, so I started my most recent variety of housing hate and targeted homes and condominiums that do not deserve to sell. To see these properties sell would be an insult to reasonable and grounded pricing methods, and I am nothing if not a cheerleader for fair and accurate pricing. One horribly mis-priced sale later and the market skews. Two horribly out of line sales creates a trend, and the market often can’t tell the difference between a collection of outliers and an actual market trend. This is why I must root so aggressively against certain things selling at certain price points.
During 2023, I had hoped there would be fewer of these “outliers” to root against, but here I sit, at the very end of this year, watching these outliers perpetuate. Maybe it’s the strong year end rally in the equity markets causing this misplaced confidence. Maybe it’s the 30 year rates dropping. But regardless of the potential reasons, I continue to see homes either just introduced to the market or languishing on the market that have no business occupying the pricing structure they’re trying to claim. Now I must worry about these pieces of property selling to buyers who fall victim to the Overton Window pricing scheme, wherein a cottage without lake rights that was originally listed for $913,950 is reduced to $747,899 and a buyer who thinks a large price reduction must equate to a good value, jumps. The problem is that cottage that I’ve been actively rooting against shouldn’t sell for more than $502,250. To pay more would be an egregious error that borders on sinful.
And yet, the market persists and the outliers remain, and so I, the market cheerleader, must continue to root for the good properties and against the other ones. It’s not easy to simultaneously host so much love and hate towards just one market, but I’ll keep it up simply because I can’t help myself.