In the news this week, more of the continuing saga surrounding Stone Manor. I suppose most of this story is my fault, so I should take some time to explain myself. Several years ago I was hired to represent the marquee unit at Stone Manor. The first floor residence is as marquee as marquee gets, and since I’m the agent with the most success in that particular segment (no matter what the stapled letter you received in the mail from some other agent says), I was chosen to sell this space. After some market time, I sold it for just under $6MM to a strong buyer. As a point of fact, you won’t ever see me drop my client or customer names in this blog. That’s low-class and I’ll leave it for the online gossip pages to fill in the gaps that I intentionally leave empty.
After all, that’s what this story is all about. That’s why it has legs. The story has personalities involved, and media types love a personality. But again, here I am getting ahead of myself. The first floor unit sold in late 2016, and I was pleased to represent the seller. Stone Manor, for those who are unaware, features(d) several condominium units. There is a double unit and a single unit on the top floor, the same configuration on the second floor, and the large single floor unit that I sold on the first floor. Shortly after the first floor unit sold to this buyer, a double on the top floor sold. Then, some fancy deed work between two owners, and ultimately the second floor double unit sold. In November, the single unit on the second floor sold. That unit, by the way, was the unit owned by Tony Rezko, infamous associate of a prior president.
Even though the sales prices have been poorly or inaccurately reported, the transfer returns point to sales prices as follows: First Floor: $5,995,000. Top Floor Double: $1,899,667. Second Floor Double: $3,400,000. Second Floor Single: $2,250,000. The top floor double may have sold in a different manner to reflect that lower transfer price, but I’m not privy to any details, and those don’t matter. What matters now is that a singular owner now owns all of Stone Manor excepting one single top floor unit. The price paid so far? $13,544,667. This means every reported number you’ve read over recent weeks and months is wrong.
So now what? An owner who isn’t well known locally now owns nearly all of Stone Manor. The new owner has paid a handsome market rate for the property acquired. And because of this, everyone is going insane. Local news reports on the purchases as if they’re somehow unexplainable. Los Angeles based bloggers can’t figure out what’s going on here. Why would someone want to own so much of a building in rural Wisconsin? Has the world gone mad? We demand answers. We must know. We have to know. What’s going on at Stone Manor?
The answer, is nothing. Stone Manor is a monster limestone structure. It’s somewhere around 30,000 square feet. The property has 400′ of frontage and nearly 10 acres. It is, without question, the most important estate on this lake. No matter what other billionaire lakefront owners think, Stone Manor is actually the king. And if you’re a lakefront owner or a lover of this lake, you should be thrilled that the property is on the verge of returning to single family ownership. Why would we bemoan a purchaser investing so much in our market? Why would we wish to understand this beyond what it looks like on the surface? It’s an owner who loves a property that had previously never been given much attention on the market, and that owner now seeks to turn 400′ of frontage into a singular estate. This matters, and we should be appreciative.
Let’s say the top floor holdout owner sells. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t, it matters little to me. But if he does, and the price is in line with prior sales in the building (let’s not consider the alternatives for an owner who no longer has meaningful voting power in the condo structure), then the singular owner will have purchased the entirety of Stone Manor for around $16MM. Want to know what Stone Manor, in its entirely is worth? Probably around $16MM. Has the new owner overpaid for this property? No. Does it matter if she did? No. Does it matter that she might be from California and her husband might be from New York? No.
My advice to the community is to recognize a compliment when paid one. This owner could choose to spend millions of dollars in any vacation home market in the world. She chose Lake Geneva. I, for one, am flattered by her interest, and as a caretaker of this market and this lake, I welcome the consolidation of ownership. To that new owner, I say thank you. I say congratulations. I say welcome to the lake.