Lake Geneva Market Update

Lake Geneva Market Update

If you’re reading this now, which you must be, and if you read my post yesterday, which you should have, then you may be confused by today’s post in light of yesterdays. The market, as I said yesterday, is showing signs of a transition. That much is obvious to those who are finely tuned into this market (me), and it remains a subtle shift that is missed by agents who continually proclaim the transition to be progressing. In other words, if your agent was telling you, in frantic tones, “the market is changing, the market is changing, the market is changing!” (read like the Yankee’s announcer after a Yankee’s win), and your agent was telling you that two years ago, then you could correctly assume your agent was crying wolf. The market today is shifting, but as with any increase in activity or decrease in price, not all segments of an already narrowly defined market will shift at the same time.

When I tell you that the market is moving to a place where motivated buyers are returning in solid numbers, I do not mean this as a sweeping statement that includes every property in every segment of our Lake Geneva vacation home market. I’m seeing an increase in activity, but not every property is a beneficiary of this upswing. Two weeks ago, a new listing at the Congress Club hit the market. This was a “new” listing to the uninitiated, but to those of us who have been paying attention, this was simply a regurgitated offering from summers past. The large cottage on the western shore of Williams Bay was listed first as many as three years ago for around $1.8MM. After some market time, the owners began the dangerous descent that is the chasing of a retreating market. The property was on the market, then off, then on again only to go off. Two weeks ago it came back on- this time with an asking price of $1MM. The market is such that I knew an offering like this would sell immediately and indeed it did. When it closes we’ll discuss the merits of the sale. I want to see a number around $900k, but that’s just me.

This pending sale was one that I reference as proof of the market changes. A property that had been stagnant for years finally achieved the sale that it had been desperately wanting, but in this sale there is plenty of market truth. The seller of this property made every attempt to match the market through significant and steady price reductions. Had this property hit the market for anything over $1MM, the reaction may have been slightly different. Buyers took notice this time around because the price had softened to an extent that the property made plenty of sense given the other available inventory. It should be pointed out that this property was more than likely a direct beneficiary of the lack of quality entry level lakefront inventory this year. If you want to see more proof of the changing market, just wait for the next lakefront priced at $1.65MM or less to hit the market. Unless it’s positioned next to a boat launch or tucked high on a hill somewhere, it’ll more than likely sell, and sell fast.

Today, the market is filled with buyers, but it remains a buyers market for most properties. There are lakefront homes around $2MM that I think should be selling for $1.5MM, which should be enough to entice any fence-sitting buyer to pound out a quick inquisitive email to me. The lakefront in the mid $2.5MMs with prodigious frontage continues to be one of my absolute favorites, and it looks ready to sell for $2MM or less (only my opinion of course). The two Harvard Club cottages that I’m brokering are receiving attention, and both represent value for buyers looking to buy right next to the lake with slips for prices in the $400k-$550k range. The market is teeming with opportunity, even while levels of buyer confidence slowly increase.

The greatest thing about June is that it’s still only June. 97 and sunny today sounds quite nice to me, particularly if there will be boat times, but early June heat is just a precursor to July and August days that soak you with warmth with regularity and ease. June is a great time to poke around Geneva mostly because a June buyer can be a July vacation home owner who can, in turn, be tanned and rested by August. See you at the lake.

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