Lake Geneva Market Update

The year is still young, but it’s March 1st and that means the year isn’t quite as young as we think. With two full months of 2024 under our belts we have enough market space to make a few observations as to what has, and what hasn’t, happened. While some agents are incredibly busy pretending it’s mid-summer 2022, it most obviously is not. But what is it, exactly? Is it 2019? 2012? 2009? Let’s consider what we know so far.

At this point in the year it’s apparent to me that there is no significant rush of inventory waiting in the wings. If there had been, it would have already found its way to the market. There have been new lakefront listings, but mostly just the regurgitated variety, some of which have found bids after price reductions from their 2023 targets. The mid-tier of the lakefront stalled a bit last year as agents and their sellers tried to come to grips with the fact that the pricing model of 2022 no longer worked. It was sad to watch this slow realization develop, as I knew the market was changed in early 2023, but everyone else seemed to only figure that out through trial and error. The good news for these recycled 2023 listings is that there has been a continued drought in fresh inventory so they’re able to sneak onto the market without much competition. If the market seeks to perform well into the summer, we’d do well to clear these stale pieces of inventory from our books, and that flushing is well underway.

The buyer activity on the lakefront appears to be pretty consistent, with continued showings and incoming interest, mostly from buyers who were on the hunt in 2023 but also from some new buyers. I found one such buyer a lakefront deal this week, that of an off market property with some very desirable traits. And if I’m still turning out off-market deals, I have no choice but to assume other agents are trying to do the same. Perhaps there are some more deals percolating, perhaps there aren’t. Either way I have showings tomorrow at two other off-market ideas, so the market continues to churn even if it isn’t available through your Zillow feed or out of town casual market participant.

Something that has surprised me is the appetite for any variety of new construction wherever it exists. Location, location, location? Not really. That was a cute idea but no one cares about any of that anymore. They just care about new. High quality new? Not really. Just new. A new spec house on some terrible street in AnyTown, Wisconsin? Sounds like $750k-$1M to me! The incredible rush towards new construction is somewhat explainable by the overall lack of inventory, but 7% interest rates should have put a very expensive, very wet blanket on this market activity. Except it hasn’t. And so the market continues to absorb inventory in locations that I find questionable.

There are more commission lawsuits flying in the world of corporate real estate, and last week the DOJ chimed in with some directive. They don’t want to see sellers and their hired brokers make offers of compensation to buyer’s agents. Instead, they want the buyer’s agents to write in their request (demand?) for compensation in the offers they write. This has an unintended consequence, which is to place the desire for compensation into the negotiation, which creates a significant conflict as buyer’s agents seek to find the desired deal for their buyer but also the most lucrative deal for themselves. The best and brightest in our judicial system are telling us that instead of offering 2% (or whatever) to the buyer’s broker, listing broker’s should offer 0% and then have the buyer’s broker ask for a 2% (or whatever) commission in the offer they write. This makes sense if you don’t understand anything, but it’s further proof that the future is very, very dumb.

On March 1st, there are lots of things to consider. Is winter over? Was February winter? What is winter, exactly? These are things to think about. But the bigger thing to think about is what do you want your summer to look like? Summer might feel far away, but it’s right around the corner and you’re probably not ready for it. If you want to enjoy July at the lake, you have to do the work now. I’m here, ready to help, intent on guiding you through this deceptively complicated market with visibility into both the on and off market maneuvering, and dedicated to not letting you make a market mistake. If that’s of interest to you, let me know how I might help.

About the Author

I'm David Curry. I write this blog to educate and entertain those who subscribe to the theory that Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is indeed the center of the real estate universe. When I started selling real estate 27 years ago I did so of a desire to one day dominate the activity in the Lake Geneva vacation home market. With over $800,000,000 in sales since January of 2010, that goal is within reach. If I can help you with your Lake Geneva real estate needs, please consider me at your service. Thanks for reading.

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