I think it's sweet of Crain's Chicago Business to try to outline your entertainment options within Chicago this weekend. It's nice of them. They're just trying to help, after all. What difference does it make if you have to slug through throngs of anarchist protesters in order to attend some art show at some gallery? That's half the fun! Or, at least half the fun, perhaps more if you're anything like me. There are all sorts of things to do in the city this weekend, but these things will be hard to do if you're taking the proper approach to your weekend and leaving the scrum all together. The city will be cleaned for you when you return on Monday, but for today, tomorrow, and Sunday, there is just one place to be: Lake Geneva.
This advice, or decree, doesn't differ from my regular weekly advice, but this weekend it might be even more important. Why push a stroller down to the park when you might be accosted along the way? If you were to push Junior in his stroller down Main Street in Lake Geneva this weekend the only accosting being done will be that of your delighted senses. The air will be cleaner, the smells sweeter- but not that sewer sweet smell that boils up from the ground on 85 degree summer days in any city- and the scenery generally anarchist free. So there you have it, ignore Crain's and get thee to the lake.
The market, at that lake, is sort of strange. There are pockets of solid activity and pockets of vast nothingness and in between there are wisps of activity here and a few more there. The market recovery that seemed all but certain in late January appears now to be anything but. That isn't to say that we're experiencing some sort of slow down, but it is to say that the widespread market resurgence that seemed pervasive in March is now existing only in particular segments and on particular days. This is why some sellers are delighted with weekly showings and others thumb through obituaries in search of my name and cause of death.
I see activity in the upper reaches of the residential lakefront market, but not so much that every home is involved, or invited, to the party. I have listings in nearly every segment of the lakefront, including condominiums, entry level lakefronts, mid-upper lakefronts and straight upper tier lakefronts. The most surprising aspect of the lakefront market today is that the entry level lakefront home is struggling to attract buyers. I wrote about this often during 2010 and 2011, and questioned if the vast display of strength, and in turn volume, within this segment would lead to a slow down as buyers bought and new buyers failed to replace them. This is what has happened. The entry level lakefront market, long the prize of the lakefront market, has slowed.
Perhaps it has slowed because most of the entry level inventory requires a purchaser to have a solid dose of vision. I know there are plenty of buyers who would strike at a $2MM type offering, if that offering was new and beautiful and high end. But those same buyers do not want to entertain the idea of stealing an entry level lakefront in a desirable location and swiftly and aggressively cleaning the structure from the lot and building up new. When you consider that $220 per square foot can build a fantastic home, and you consider that several of these entry level lakefronts might sell in the very low $1MMs, this is a formula to capture value that most overlook.
There are other pockets of strength (lake access priced under $350k), and other pockets of weakness (pretty much any lake access property priced from $650k to $1MM), but I suppose this all makes sense when you consider just how small of a market Lake Geneva really is. We are a low volume market in times good and bad, so it should be no surprise that during years of recovery we'll have good weeks and bad ones, strong segments and weak segments. The May lull will give way once school is out and summer is here, and I believe we'll see a consolidation of market activity once some buyers wake up on some weekend in July and wonder why on earth they're not waking up in Lake Geneva.