First Quarter Market Update

First Quarter Market Update

I figured I’d follow up yesterdays inventory update with the sales update for the first quarter. While volume at Lake Geneva is historically low during the first quarter of the year, the numbers should still be able to give us a bit of a sense as to where the market may be heading from here. Among the chief statistics that can mislead when reviewing a real estate market, is the sold statistics and attributing those sales to the activity of that same quarter. In other words, sales that close in January usually took place in November or December, and properties rarely close in the same month that they went under contract. It happens, but not that often anymore. So the sales figures for the first quarter of the year often reflect market activity in the previous quarter, and so on. This is why the fourth quarter of the year often has strong closing volume here- because the sales actually occurred during the summer months.

The first quarter yielded just ten lakefront and lake access sales here (per MLS), ranging from a $2.2MM lakefront all the way down to a $180k cottage in Sunset Hills. Two of the ten were lakefront, the other sale being a home on Bluff Lane in Wooddale on the south shore of Geneva. There is no clear trend that I see in the ten properties that sold, but many of the properties that closed were quite good deals. Of particular interest to me was the lake access home on Shoreview in Knollwood that closed at a budget pleasing $360k. That was a ton of house for the money, and Knollwood is one of my very favorite lake access associations.

With ten closings, it’s also important to look at new pending contracts as well. I know there have been a ton of offers floating on many of these vacation homes, but few of those offers are being put together. Remember that battle between affluent sellers and affluent buyers? It’s a battle that remains engaged, with either side refusing to give much in most cases. There is one lakefront property in Fontana that is supposed to close today (or maybe it did yesterday), but it’s an off market property in the high $3MM’s, so we’ll have to wait for the transfer return to be recorded before we’ll know the final number. It was an estate type home on North Shore Drive, and it was one that I have a painful history with. Thankfully, I have a painful history with many homes, and in the vast number of disappointments I find comfort.

Currently I see four pending sales in the lake access and lakefront market, two lakefront, two lake access. Not exactly a hot market as of today, but judging by the number of buyers active in the market, I think we’re going to see a dramatic increase of activity during April and May. There’s little impetus to buy in February, but by the time May is in full bloom, smart buyers feel the opportunity of a Lake Geneva summer and tend to make decisions. If we can combine a little more added inventory with some warming spring weather, I think we have the makings of a very interesting spring market at Lake Geneva.

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