If you’ve been in the market for a while, or you’ve spent time on the lake at some point during the past 25 years, there’s a very good chance you know the modern home on Black Point. I haven’t had any client relationship with any owner of this home since it was first constructed, nor did I represent the most recent buyer who paid $5.2M for the home this week. With those disclosures understood, there’s a lesson to be learned from this property. In spite of the market heat and the buying frenzy that has been churned to an exhausting level, there are still glimmers of sensibility if we’re paying attention. And I am.
The lessons are market lessons, and every sold property is a matter of public record that can, and should be, discussed. The property on Black Point sold for $5.2M, which is a fine price for this particular property. I personally thought the Valley Park 2020 sale for $3.87M was the most reasonable comp for this home, but the market thought otherwise. In light of recent sales on North Lakeshore Drive ($5.425M) and the pending contracts on Harvard and Oriole, this sale looks to make perfect sense and proves that the market has heated up even when compared to the fall 2020 market. If you’re a buyer, you’re painfully aware of that fact.
The lessons from this property involve a very well known real estate truth, and one lesser Lake Geneva specific truth. The first is that properties that miss the initial valuation by a wide margin are punished by lengthy market times and the commensurate price deterioration. Price deterioration is not well understood by sellers, as echoed by the common mantra “the worst thing that can happen is I don’t sell and I get to enjoy the house”. This is what sellers tell themselves, and often, it is true. But the worst thing that can happen is usually something far less benign. The worst thing that can happen to an overpriced listing is that a once ambivalent seller becomes more motivated, and as their motivation increases so does the market resistance. The once confident seller is now chasing the market, and the only way to chase a market is through lowering the price. Beverly Hills brokers suggest all you need to do is throw a party with instagram models and a half dozen leased Ferrari’s, but in the real world sellers chase buyers by enticing them with price concessions. Southland was initially listed in 2019 for $7.95M. It sold in 2021 for $5.2M even as the market heated up during that listing tenure.
The other lesson from this sale involves architectural styles. The market at Lake Geneva loves normal. It pretends to be progressive or otherwise interesting, but what this market loves is simple, calm, expected style. This is why old white painted homes with THIS WAY TO THE BEACH signs sell remarkably well, and sexier modern homes rarely sell without difficulty. My Valley Park sale from last fall was designed by the same architect as the Southland home. The primary style is modern. There is no secondary style. Lake Geneva will absorb modern architecture, but never, ever, without some pause. The only way a modern home would sell well into the market is if that home were the most perfect version of itself. Modern should stay modern, but if you want it to sell into the lakefront market, you have to polish that modern gem until it shines. In that, we can make a modern offering appeal to what buyers really love most: location. But don’t you see what I’ve done? I’ve lied to you, because people only care about location in theory. What they really love is shiny.
Want to sell your modern home in the Lake Geneva market? Make it remarkable. Remove objections before you list, knowing the market has given plenty of hints as to its opinion of modern homes. And beyond that, if you want to sell your home for the highest possible price, don’t overshoot your initial listing price by 50%. The market is hot, but it’s proving that it isn’t that hot.