Lake Geneva Market Update

Lake Geneva Market Update

I suppose it could be said that spring buyers are those with immediacy on their minds. If you search for a home in March, at the tail end of a deep and dark Midwestern winter, it’s somewhat obvious that you’re searching for a summery reprieve. If you look then, buy a bit later, and close before that Memorial Day weekend, then you’re a buyer who looked and bought in time for a full season of instant, ready-made summer. You get to close on a Friday and boat on a Saturday. You close on a Tuesday and swim from your pier on a Wednesday. You close on Thursday and are first in line for fish fry on Friday. This is what happens when you close right before summer, and this is rather wonderful.

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But today, it is no longer just about to be summer. It might be the dog days of summer now, but these are old dogs, and this is late summer. Drive around and look at the signs. While the cicadas have finally chimed in with their endless tune, and that’s typically and always a sign of summer vitality, the greens on the trees tell a different story. Things are green, yes, but these things are less green now than they were just two weeks ago. The cone flowers are in bloom alongside the Black Eyed Susan’s and the hydrangeas. These are not flowers that enjoy early anything, instead preferring to only blossom after the summer has worn on, and the fall is approaching. It’s 43 degrees as I write, and 43 degrees has as little to do with summer as the gloves I wore yesterday morning while fishing a small spring creek.

This summer is getting late, and people who pay little attention to our real estate markets might think that means things are on the wane. Spring is for buyers, they say. Late summer is for revelers, and fall is for leaf kickers. That’s what they say, I think. But I say each season has its own flow, its own rhythm, and while this season has a rhythm set by an unruly bunch of tree-dwelling insects, it’s still a rather upbeat tune. The market is active, and unlike previous posts in previous years, the market is somewhat uniformly active. There are buyers about, on the lakefront and in the associations, looking for slips and hoping for buoys, searching for a view or just a short enough walk to a white, wooden pier. There are buyers, and they are paying the dulling green of the leaves very little attention.

Because to be a looker in the late summer is to be a buyer in the fall, and buyers in the fall have time on their side. If you buy on May 20th, you need to get yourself in gear, pronto. There’s a boat to buy and a lawn to have cut, there’s this and that, but mostly a lot of each. It’s a harried time, the spring. The fall? It’s slower, it’s easier, it’s less frantic. To buy in the fall is to sign onto an easy transition where there is no rush, no immediate concern, but instead, a gentle switch from primary home existence to lake home life. These late summer contract-seekers will be fall buyers, and to be a fall buyer is to ensure there’s plenty of time to be ready for next summer.

Around the lake today there are contracts. That spec house in the South Shore Club is under contract, as I mentioned on Wednesday that I thought it might be. That’s a big sale for the club, as any spec home situation inside of a small segment of the market has the potential to do damage. Why? Well, because spec home owners are owners only because they want to sell, and those who want to sell quickly are more tempted to adjust their price downward than are traditional sellers. Taking a spec home off the table is wonderful for an association, and this case is no exception.

There is a new contract pending with a buyer whom I’m pleased to represent over in Lake Geneva, that of a home listed at $1.6MM or so. It’s a nice home, under contract to a wonderful family, and I couldn’t be happier for the lifestyle adjustment they’re about to undertake. Three homes in the Birches remain under contract, adding to the mass exodus of sellers within that association over the past three years. If you ask me, I’d say it’s strange that so many homes in such a confined space have changed hands over such a short time frame. I’d be apt to subscribe to a conspiracy as to why they all might want to sell, but I know it’s just a cyclical thing and sellers sell mostly when it’s time to sell. And if you live on the lakefront in the Birches, it’s apparently time.

The lakefront in the South Shore Club ($3.799MM) is pending sale, as I mentioned the other day. There’s activity galore on the lakefront right now, which doesn’t mean that a buyer has to make a poor decision. It’s true that if just 20% of lakefront buyers hold some sort of high octane motivation it’ll spoil the market for the remaining 80%, but that doesn’t mean there can’t still be deals printed this fall. I continue to look at the aged inventory for value, and love to snipe new listings in the event that they come to market at a reasonable market price. The temptation for new sellers to list at absurdly high prices will be rather potent this fall, so we’ll just sort of watch those sellers bring their bravado to market and then we’ll quietly hope that one of the 20% doesn’t buy it. Watch for a new listing in Lake Geneva in the coming days, likely hitting the market at a price that’s wildly above market.

Sellers, please stop listing your properties with the highest bidder. Buyers, please work with me so we can avoid those sellers.

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