Whenever I write about the troubles of a particular segment of our vacation home market, I find myself in some degree of trouble. I get emails sometimes, comments other times, angry looks from people I don't know, and huge red bricks thrown through the front windows of my office. The last one is not true, and the third one probably doesn't have anything to do with this blog, but still. To write about a market in trouble, or in decline, or to write about one that is stuck in neutral even as other markets fluidly and easily shift gears is to write about what most people would rather ignore. Some markets at some times find themselves in trouble.
Most of the people who find the truth about this to be disconcerting are those who subscribe to an antiquated way of thinking. This way harkens back to the days when real estate inventory was a closely guarded secret. Before the MLS, agents would have inventory books in their offices- inventory books that listed their inventory and nothing more. Listings, at the time, were prized and secret, and if you wanted access to the best selection you had to work with the firm that held the most cards. Then the MLS came along and broken up this individual monopoly, but it didn't significantly impact the power over pricing and perception that brokerages and their agents still wielded.
There were growing pains then as the internet grew and usage became widespread. Consumers could find information that they had previously relied on brokers for, and with that information came an education. Brokers are useful for opinions and transactional assistance, but are no longer a necessary cog in the information gathering wheel. This enabled some and deeply disturbed others. Some people (always sellers) want sales to be guarded. They want low comps to be swept under giant rugs where they will stay out of sight until they are no longer important. They want happy faces and name tags and sales. They want to pretend bad things don't happen to individual markets. They want the world to be one shiny happy place.
But it isn't. There are markets in trouble, here and there, in fact, everywhere. To say a national market is recovering is fine, but to assume that this recovery will touch every corner, that it will somehow be a tide that raises all ships, this is a mistake. Over time this will be the case, but in the early throws of a recovery there will be stubborn pockets of resistance. There will be trouble, and while even small markets find their way towards recovery some segments will burst to life well before others. It isn't fair, but neither is life.
The upper tier lake access market on Geneva is a market in a slight bit of trouble right now. There is volume, some of it. Priced from $600k to $1MM there are three homes pending sale. Two in Cedar Point Park and my listing in Indian Hills ($659K) too. These three homes are fine homes, but in a slight twist not a one of them has a boat slip. The homes with slips in this segment are currently unable to attract buyers in the way that they could have once. The three pending properties are all somewhat close to the water, and all are fairly substantial homes, but not a one has a slip.
During the past 12 months there have been seven sales in this segment. Two of newer big homes in Country Club Estates, one in Cedar Point on a parkway, one in Somerset, one in Oak Shores, another in Indian Hills, and the last a co-op at the Congress Club. We'll exclude the Congress Club from that list, and instead focus on the others. The two in Country Club were fine sales, but neither had a slip. The third was a sale in Indian Hills that closed at $755k. That price, by the way, in my opinion was ridiculous. It was a very high number that hasn't proved to be consistent with other sale prices in the neighborhood and in this segment. I wasn't a fan. The listing in Cedar Point didn't have a slip, leaving just the Somerset listing and the Oak Shores homes. Both had slips.
Today there are 24 lake access homes priced from $600k to $1MM. One of my favorites is in the Loch Vista Club, and my listing in Somerset of a great big log home is pretty darn unique in this price range ($949k, pictured above). I have a listing in Oak Shores at $675k with a slip, and there are several other homes in that segment that stand out- including and perhaps amazingly- a home in Loramoor that measures more square feet that we can count and has a slip, a pool, a tennis court, and heaps of interesting history. Priced at $780k it's a downright steal for someone who requires copious amounts of square footage.
The segment, even with the three pending sales, is slow. The softness here belies a recovery that isn't fully engaged, no matter what your agent is telling you. The recovery is uneven, with some segments benefiting but most feeling more like 2011 and 2010 rather than some sort of amazing rendition of 2012. There will be slowness in this segment throughout the year, even while sales occur with some mediocre consistency. When I get an email later today that reads "I was going to list my home with you but all you do is complain about prices and tell buyers that the market is still slow. How dare you!", this will be a shame.