When that one guy went to Alaska to live, he chose a spot with straight trees. Had he been truly rugged, he would have chosen a plot with crooked trees, like the boxelders and walnuts and mulberries that plague my land. It’s not all that difficult to chop down a straight little tree, strip it of its straight little bark, and put a notch into its straight little end. I could do that time and time again, and then some more, until I had something that looked like a cabin. What I’m having a hard time doing, however, is building something with my crooked trees. They’re lame. The old timey tools I bought have suffered some casualties- the wooden mallet broke in two while driving a dull hatchet into the unruly end grain of a crooked tree. The twisty-auger-drill is dull and unable to drill through anything. I have adjustments to make, mostly in finding straight trees and sharp tools, and mallets that don’t break. If this were real, I would have frozen to death by now.
Alas, the civilized world that exists outside of my crooked tree line has printed a new lakefront deal. $1.5MM for the lakefront on the North Shore of Fontana, with 100′ of cliff like frontage both in front of, and behind the house. The sale is important for our market, as it proves that any property, at any time, will sell if the price is low enough and the adjacent inventory light enough. This property was not my listing, and while I brought many of my customers to those old concrete steps, I didn’t provide this buyer, either. This is not sustainable, the not listing and not selling of these lakefronts, but with a little help from my friends, we can avoid these sorts of embarrassments in the future. Onto the sale.
To describe this location as “North Shore Drive, Fontana”, is to give the location far too much credit. It’s off of North Shore Drive, sure, but it is a goat trail that parts with the paved road and extends towards the lake, following the cliff just long enough to provide access to eight or nine lakefront homes. If we were in a holler, walking this route in our boots and waders, with our fly rods and our fishing hats on, this would not be a difficult walk. But here, in this pristine place, this road is an anomaly. There’s a rumor that says these owners that access their lakefront homes via this route keep the road sketchy on purpose. The rumor goes that they don’t want to encourage tourist traffic, those wandering souls that dip and dive down any paved road, posted or otherwise. If this is why the road is as narrow and difficult as it is, then fine. If it’s this way for another reason, that other reason isn’t any good.
This lane is a mix of improved, over improved, under improved, and “what does improved mean?”. There are large homes, beautiful in nature and in practice, and there are others that remain mostly untouched by gentrification. The home that just sold for $1.5MM was on the untouched side, with very little improved here over the course of time. That vintage nature held much of the appeal, at least for me, as old homes that have not been butchered by some style-depraved decades are rare and should be celebrated. This home was that home, rare, possibly celebrated, but that slope. Front yard slopes are a fact of our hilly life. Homes perch, yards fall, the lake licks the shore far below. But back yard slopes that do not allow a convenient paved route to the home and garage are few and far between. This home was that few, and it was that far between, and the route to the house was troubled first by that goat trail then by an extreme twist and slope that led your car to these old steps. Steps. Lots of steps.
This home originally came to market in early 2012 for $2.195MM. That price, to be fair, wasn’t the worst price I’ve seen. It wasn’t a great price, either, and to understand that you must remember that January of 2012 was very close to our market bottom. Sales were rampant, yes, but prices were down. Two million dollars for this home wasn’t acceptable then, nor was any lower iteration of that number from that date until the summer of 2014.
Finally settling at $1.7MM, I knew this home was going to sell right. I wanted it to sell in the $1.4s, and had any one of the customers that I brought here thought the reward would be worth the work, I would have sold this in that range. $1.5MM is a fine sale price, but I sure would have loved this sale a whole lot more at $1.45MM. Even so, $1.5MM for 100′ of frontage on the north side of Fontana is a good enough win for me.
This sale continues the trend here, of moving these entry level lakefront homes, and slowly but surely removing them from the entry level market. This home will now either get demolished or remodeled, but whatever the avenue chosen, it will no longer be a $1.5MM home. Another one down, even fewer left. If you’re an entry level buyer, I’d like to work with you. I’d also like you to realize that every sale in this range is one less property that’s ever going to be available to you.