Blog : Lake Geneva Buyers

Lake Geneva Water

Lake Geneva Water

I see the world in black and white. I see it in wrong and right. I see the people who dwell in the gray and I wonder why. Packers fans see Bears fans and wonder why. Bears fans feel the same. Some people saw that dress as being gold and some saw it as blue. Some think the President is good and some think he’s bad. These are binary situations with predictable outcomes. It’s one or the other. Black or white. Blue or Gold. Orange and Blue or Green and Gold. Capitalism or Socialism. Two choices, nothing in the middle. No gray to be found, anywhere.

My lack of gray awareness extends to the Lake Geneva lakefront, as do most things in my life. In this case, there are once again two sorts of people. Two types of buyers. Two positions that can be adopted, each a religion, one of conviction and one of ignorance. There are really only two types of buyers on this lake. An easy play here would be to assume that I’m talking about the smart buyers who work with me, and the other buyers that don’t. But this is the low hanging fruit and we’re not seeking the easy way out. That’s for the other group, the group that we don’t belong to. The two groups? Those who understand that the water adjacent their would-be-lakefront-home is important, and those who are wrong.

It’s true that all of Geneva Lake is divine. While the lakefront homes themselves can vary by make and model, many subscribe to the belief that the lake is the lake. If they’ve found their way here, they know they’ve already eschewed the bad lakes in favor of this, the good lake, and in that they feel as though they have made the correct decision. They would be correct, in a way. But if we dig deeper we can find that not all of Geneva Lake was created equal. This is a lake of good and better, and ultimately best, but there is a misunderstood part of this lake, one that can only be considered to be nothing but bad.

Sacrilege, you say? Heresy? Or is it just the truth, the sort that can only be discovered after a lifetime of walking this path and swimming these waves and casting from these piers? Should it be any surprise that there are good spots on this lake and bad spots? And what exactly does that mean? After all, if you’re a buyer looking for lakefront you’ve certainly already identified that this is the only lake worth buying on, which means you’ve already gained membership into a most exclusive, enlightened group. This is where many buyers stop. This is where they assume the decisions from here on must all be relatively equal. And this is where they are wrong. It’s not nuanced, it’s as binary as anything has ever been. It’s one or the other, either the water matters or it doesn’t, and it does.

The lake is deep. We know this. 150′, give or take. But this isn’t the unique aspect of Geneva Lake that keeps it so remarkable and shimmery. It’s the volume that does that. 70% of Geneva is 70′ or deeper. So this isn’t some spread out mud-puddle in Texas, the sort with swimming tarantulas and brain eating amoebas, this is a sparkling, natural, spring-fed lake of royal proportions. In spite of this magnificent volume, the lake still has its edges, and by default, those edges feature shallow water. It would be forgivable if you viewed a home in the winter without the assistance of an informed agent and you weren’t aware of the quality of the water adjacent that home. But in the summer? In the spring? The fall? With piers in and lawns mowed, this shouldn’t be difficult to figure out.

A proper pier on Geneva should feature end of pier water depth in the 5-8′ range. If you are on Black Point, you might be in 20′ range. But if you’re in a shallow corner of the lake, the sort of corner that might have been a straight up swamp before the property owners of the 1800s filled those corners in with rocks and dirt and tree stumps, then you very well might be in trouble. Full sections of the lake suffer from this shallow-water concern, and I’m positive that the owners of such homes no longer find themselves concerned with the lack of water at the end of their pier. But if you’re a buyer you have a choice, and the choice is simple. If you’re considering a lakefront home on Geneva, be sure you’re buying at a price point that matches the quality of the water. If you’re considering a home search and you’re uncertain what sort of water might be good or bad, don’t sweat that detail. Just ask me.

Lake Geneva Buyers

Lake Geneva Buyers

I had never written a blog post from the day I was born in 1978 through March 28th, 2007. Then, on March 29th. I wrote one. It wasn’t really a post, it was more of an introduction. But every blog since the beginning of time has started with an introduction. And so that introduction and then some fits and starts and lack of commitment to the idea. Since then, 1531 blog posts have been published here, which is meaningful, I think. If you’re a Lake Geneva buyer and you’d like to know about a certain association at the lake, you could search that association on Google, or you could skip that step and just come to this Lake Geneva real estate blog and search the association. The blog has been somewhat important to my career.

There have been common themes written here.  The first theme is that you’re wasting your life if you’re affluent enough to have a Lake Geneva vacation home and yet you don’t have one. That’s the first and most important theme. The next theme is that if you’re wealthy enough to have a vacation home and you don’t have one in Lake Geneva, then you’re just being ridiculous. The other themes are all sort of spun around those two most important themes. The third theme is that if you are indeed looking at Lake Geneva, then you should be working with me. That’s actually the most important theme, so the other themes are somewhat less important, assuming you care about my children and their future.

Another theme that I’ve often touched on is the desire of sellers to find buyers, and to find them in all the places that they live, the places that they work, the places that they think about Lake Geneva real estate. I’ve oft wished for a new medium, a new place where the buyers hang out, where I might enter and meet them all and them sell them all properties at the lake. But this secret location, this secret medium, it doesn’t exist. I’ve given sellers extreme exposure at times, and yet, when a buyer does materialize the buyer hails from places we already know. The buyer for a Lake Geneva property is usually already in Lake Geneva.

Not that he or she lives here, but that buyer is usually already somehow connected to the lake. Rarely, if ever, has a buyer found an ad in a magazine and decided, based on that introduction to this market, that indeed Lake Geneva sounds like a nice place to spend several million dollars.  The buyer may be aware of the lake, aware of the market, aware of the need to transform his weekends, and that ad may push him over the top, but that ad was rarely, if ever, the initial catalyst for the purchase. I deal with this often.

And it got me thinking, where do these buyers come from? Who are these buyers? Where do they live? Why are they here? Thankfully, these are questions that I can answer. I wouldn’t have asked them if I couldn’t. In the past 36 months, there have been 60 (MLS)  Geneva lakefront and lake access sales over $1MM. There have been another 12 lakefront and lake access lots (several in the South Shore Club) closed over $500k. That’s 72 sales in 36 months, and that’s a pretty large sample size. So where do these Lake Geneva buyers call home?

That’s kind of a tricky question, as I can only look at the address where the tax bills is mailed, which is, more times than not, the location of the new owners primary home. Sometimes the tax bill goes to an attorney or an accountant, but rarely. 11 of the 72 times the tax bill is being sent to the Lake Geneva address of the home they bought here, but does that mean 11 of the 72 buyers are primary owners? Of course not. Of those 11, I would estimate just three are actually calling their Lake Geneva address their primary. So what of the other 61?

Eight are in Chicago proper. Four in Barrington. Four in Hinsdale. Two in Wilmette, two in Winnetka.  Three in Naperville, two in Lake Forest, two in River Forest.  Three buyers call Texas home, four are from Florida, one from Hermosa Beach, California.  Of the 61 properties that don’t list the property address on the tax bill, two are from other parts of Wisconsin, eight are from Florida, Texas, and California, and the remainder, the overwhelming majority, are from Illinois. None of this should be a surprise.

Then again, there is one tax bill sent to Marseilles. That’s by Ottawa. In Illinois.