You might have seen my 7 Dartmouth Woods listing and thought it was just a normal Dartmouth Woods house. This wouldn’t be your fault if you thought that way. In spite of its membership in Dartmouth Woods, that small enclave of lakefront homes just East of Yerkes, this listing of mine was really quite special. The setting inside the club was ideal, with ample space to the West owed to the positioning of the adjacent home. That space created a wider view that might otherwise be expected in Dartmouth Woods. Beyond the view, the house itself was special. A renovation by Lowell made it that way, and a massive deck project this spring made the outside living space world class. If you thought this house was just a normal little house, you were wrong.
That’s why it sold so quickly, and that’s why I had a back-up buyer wishing against the primary buyer. The market respects unique properties, so long as they’re unique without being weird. Unique is an interesting word. It could imply special qualities, but it could imply horrible, awful qualities, too. He’s unique, you’d say of a guy who sits shirtless at the intersection strumming a guitar without strings. He’s unique, you’d say of your daughter’s boyfriend when you really want to say he’s terrible and that you hate him. But in the case of this property, unique was a good thing, and that’s why I listed it for $3.195M a month ago and closed it for $3.2M yesterday.
For some context on this sale, consider this same home sold for $1.225M not even ten years ago. I sold it then, and when this buyer purchased it we knew it was a nice deal. It was a nice deal in the context of the entry level market at that time. Back then you could come to Lake Geneva with $1.4M and expect to have your pick of several lakefront homes. Now when you come here with $1.4M we try to be nice and let you take a look at some really blah lake access homes that may or may not have a boat slip. Sorry about that. So how does a $1.225M house become a $3.2M house? Well, you renovate it with Lowell. Then you add that deck. Then you decorate it. But really you just wait for the entry level market to rise so that your home will follow suit. It has no choice but to follow.
Today, entry level at Lake Geneva is squarely in that $1.9-3.5M range. If you find a lakefront for $1.5M, you should buy it before the seller changes their mind, or has a chance to call me. The interesting note about the entry level market is that it’s shrinking with each sale. I’ve sold several lakefront homes this year under $3.5M. Most of those homes will either be torn down or substantially renovated, meaning they are no longer bound by the price range that once forced their allegiance. If I sell a $2.5M house on a decent lot and it’s torn down, the new house is going to be liquid at $4.5M+, and you, the entry level buyer, has one less piece of potential inventory to ever consider. I don’t make these rules, I just play by them.
For now, a note of thanks to the seller of Dartmouth Woods. I met this client a decade or more ago back when we were both some variety of junior associate. Today, that buyer has become a good friend and his family is on their way to a beautiful lakefront upgrade. Lake Geneva has a tendency to do that to people. Buy a small house. Like that small house. Wonder how you ever lived without that small house. Then, when circumstances permit, swap out that small lake house a forever lakefront home. I recognize that every person has a choice in their buy and sell side broker representation, and I’m grateful to be chosen time and time again to work with the finest buyers and sellers in our lakefront market.