There isn’t any one secret formula that will produce a product on Geneva Lake that buyers will gravitate towards. I mean, there is, but the base formula for high end real estate on Geneva is usually mostly the same. Like baking bread. You know you’re going to have some flour and yeast, but those two ingredients form the foundation for the product they do not dictate what that finished product ends up looking, tasting, or feeling like. To be on Geneva and to command a price in excess of $5MM, we’ll assume our flour and yeast are 2 acres and 150′ of frontage.
But there’s an error in that assumption, and it’s in the frontage requirement. Historically, 150′ is a pretty important number. It puts a lakefront home in a different class and more easily allows whatever is built upon that wide berth to achieve higher, or lasting value. A lakefront sale from last week took that cute little market idea and tore it to shreds. Last week, the large lakefront home on Folly Lane listed for $7.9MM closed for $7.1MM. With just 129′ of frontage.
The 129 feet weren’t even level, in fact they were quite elevated, but those front feet had little to do with the sale. This property sold for this incredibly lofty sum, the highest price paid for a residential re-sale on Geneva since the Pritzker’s walked the grounds at Casa Del Sueno in 2004 and decided that it’d do, and it wasn’t even a sale based on the strength of the land. It was a sale based solely on the strength of the finishes. On the power of square footage. On the appeal of brick ceilings and hand hammered metals. It was a sale built on the back of luxury, and in this sale it provides both a curious talking point and a clear vision for the market: There are buyers that will reward superior construction, even if that construction isn’t on blue chip estate type property.
This sale does for the upper bracket on Geneva what my sale on Lakeside in May did for the South Shore Club. It gives other owners hope that should they decide to sell their newly constructed manse, there is likely a buyer out there who will wash their dollars for them. That’s what this is really, a sign that breaking even on some of the large new construction is a reasonable expectation. Before now, no recent buyer had proven willing to pay up for someone’s recently built palace. But this property on Folly is one of the few new builds of this scale to come to market, and in the sale at $7.1MM it’s obvious that while buyers in this strata are not common, they do exist.
The sale at $7.1MM was apparently even higher than that, perhaps, as some concessions for personal property pulled the printed price downward. There has always been a heavy compression at the upper end of the Geneva lakefront market. Square footage and extra fancies don’t allow a home to propel itself into the upper price ranges without significant drag. When considering how upper bracket homes fit into the market it’s important to figure out not just how large the home is, but to remember that at a certain price no one can, or will, afford it.
Today, if I’m an owner of a great big spread on Geneva Lake, I feel pretty good about myself. Just as comp bombs await this fall market (see north shore of Fontana lakefront down to $3.5MM for 235’ of frontage and 6 acres), there are reasons to celebrate prices from the ownership side as well. This sale is a wonderful thing, and to the new owner (I represented neither buyer nor seller) there is much to be excited for. A life along the shores of Geneva Lake might just be better than any other life imaginable.
PS. If you’d like to recreate this now sold property, my listing on Folly Lane for $2.695MM is still available.