Blog : Lakefront Homes

250 Circle Parkway

250 Circle Parkway

I’m in the process of designing a new office for my business. The current location, an office that I’m quite proud of, has grown tedious with envious conflict and expense, so I must leave. The process is exciting, the new building full of promise, but there is just one hurdle now. The Design. Do I make the office sleek and modern, like the sort of offices I see only on the silver screen? Do I make it comfortable and mature, with the smell of rich mahogany perfuming my masculine new space? Should the floors be wood or stone? The walls drywall and clean or wood and textured? Do I bite at the trend to make at least one bathroom clad in deep blue grasscloth with a shiny brass mirror and faucet? The questions are many, the answers hard to find, the situation perplexing. This is my office problem.

Lake Geneva Lakefront Home For Sale

Thankfully, on the lakefront, there is no such problem. The design aims are true. If we have a cottage and we wish to elevate it, the exterior choices range from shingles, to shingles, to also, shingles. If we’re having patios, they must be stone. There is no other choice. The driveway should be brick, and if we’re going through the trouble and expense of adding brick walks and driveways, then we should be smart enough to lay a herringbone pattern. What good is a superlative driveway without an equally impressive landscape? We have to add hydrangeas and perennials galore, to make the earth look as good as the materials we’ve applied to it. If the brick is set and the stone patios laid, the landscaping thriving, the shingles applied, we should also frame the view with tall and wide divided light windows. The bigger the better, but not so big that we ruin what we’re creating. This is what it’s like to design a proper lakefront home that stays true to the cottage style.

Views. And views. (and more views)

As is my way, if I’ve described it, I’m offering it to you. Consider 250 Circle Parkway in Williams Bay. The Tippy Top of Cedar Point isn’t just some normal spot on this anything-but-normal lake. It’s the spot with the best view. As one customer said after walking through, I can’t unsee that view. You can’t have many things that are “the best”. Hamburgers? Sure, plenty of places will serve you the best burger. Same with pie. But a view of Geneva Lake? There isn’t much of a competition here once you’ve laid eyes on that westerly view from 250 Circle. There is nothing else like it on the lake, and when I tell you that it makes all other views ever seen by human eyes in the history of humanity look like absolute mediocrity, you’ll have to see it for yourself to decide if that’s hyperbole.

Family Room

This home, aside from the landscaping and the views and those shingles and that new pier, is delightful. Thoughtfully, painstakingly, and beautifully renovated by the current owner, this home exudes a gracious lakefront style that is comfortably unpretentious. There’s nothing here that you might not need, but there’s little else you’re left to want. We have three bedrooms upstairs with three baths, along with two sitting areas and a private covered deck where that view demands you to sit and stare, at least for a bit. The bathrooms are renovated with playful pattern tile. The sweeping staircase that joints the bedroom level with the living level is oversized and grand. On the main level, you’ll find a bunk room with adjacent sitting room, vaulted and fun, with access to the private rear patio and entrance. The lakeside living room is complete with fireplace and ample seating, with large french doors that lead to that lakeside patio.

Master Bath

Once you take the bait and head to that patio, there’s nothing more you’ll care about seeing. I’ll suggest you check out the kitchen, with stone counters and stainless appliances and hidden pantries with clever nooks for storage, but you won’t care. That view is there and now you can’t unsee it. And why would you want to? It’s here, it’s ready, and it’s for sale. Now, that view can be yours, and you’ll have a hard time looking at anything else ever again. $2,825,000.

Lake Geneva Lakefront Market Update

Lake Geneva Lakefront Market Update

I was sitting on a pier last night, just after a lakeside dinner, watching the remnants of a cloudy evening sunset. Kids jigged for bass under the pier. Everything was quite fine. Fine, that is, until someone said that it’s almost August and when it’s August then summer is almost over. Sixteen weeks, someone else said, until Thanksgiving. This is what it’s like to be from the Midwest. We know when things are good, but we’re smart enough to know they won’t last forever.

If you must know why the market is still hot, take a look at your equity positions. They’re up, and when they’re up like they are, for as long as they’v been up, our market can’t help but follow. After a soggy June and a rather tranquil market, July has been as active as any month could ever be. It’s been hot outside, we know that, and that heat has poured over the market as well. If June had you thinking that the market was slowing, then July should have you feeling pretty silly for thinking such a thing.

New lakefront contracts have touched many segments of the market, with current pending deals on a charming home in Geneva Manor ($2.395MM), a new listing in between Pebble Point and Knollwood for $4.5MM, and a decent parcel on Basswood listed at $4.799MM. The Manor home and Basswood have both experienced some time on market, and both are testaments to the way our market behaves when inventory is tight. Buyers may choose to pass on certain lakefronts for a while, but after not finding a perfect match for some period of time, buyers will come back to the existing, perhaps aged, inventory and take another swing. But these two do not tell the story today, the lakefront by Knollwood is the one with the story.

I should note that this is not my listing, a condition that is causing me untold amounts of grief. This listing came to market last Sunday, and I acknowledged the really nice Lowell renovation on some of the interior spaces but didn’t feel overwhelmed with excitement. That property sold in a day. The lesson? If you have an older home that lacks excitement, and you’re thinking of selling it, you should consider your options before you list. Is your property on a large enough piece of dirt that a likely buyer will tear it down? Good, don’t remodel it first (see the Basswood pending contract). But is your property on a smaller piece of dirt that won’t necessarily make for an ideal tear down candidate, and is your house nice, but not super nice? Is it comfortable but not inspiring? Is it good enough, but not great? If so, you may want to follow the smart move of the owner on the North Shore and renovate before bringing home to market. Design tastes have changed, and if you want to capture a high dollar, you’d be wise to consider a remodel. Of course there’s only one way to determine whether or not this is right for you and your property, and that’s obviously to ask me.

For my involvement, you may have seen a listing in Indian Hills that I brought to market a week ago for $1.99MM. That lakefront home was the subject of intense showing and offer activity, but the sellers have decided not to sell. The market behaves oddly at times, and this is one of those times. Since I wrote that we’d be seeing price reductions, no fewer than six lakefronts have reduced their prices, proving that even in this active market sellers are still willing to accept the reality of their pricing aims. Today there are just 18 available lakefront homes to choose from, including one in Trinke’s, two in the South Shore Club, one at Westgate, and my listing at Clear Sky Lodge (reduced to $2.699MM over the weekend). Expect to see inventory increase over the next two months as sellers who wished for one last summer find themselves on the tail end of that summer, their wish nearly fulfilled in an exceptionally bittersweet manner. As always, if you’re looking to buy or sell on the lakefront and need help making sense of the highly nuanced and at times aggravating market, I’m here to help.

Above, the lakeside gazebo at Clear Sky Lodge.