A buyer called yesterday. Actually, it's hard to know if he was a buyer, but he talked like a buyer and asked questions like a buyer, so I talked like a Realtor and answered questions like one too. I supposed I didn't talk exactly like a Realtor, since I told him a certain home is "garbage" and a certain other one was only 40% overpriced. Other than the candid nature of the call, I talked sort of like I imagine other Realtors talking, but obviously in a more intelligent manner. We were discussing different associations, and I offered praise for the Loch Vista Club, and a tepid endorsement of Indian Hills. He asked about Knollwood, and it was then that I uttered the phrase that led to this post. "Knollwood? Knollwood has the absolute best lakefront park of any lake access association, period". Like how I threw in the "period" part to sound more authoritative? Thanks.
I've always liked Knollwood, but I have to admit that I like the way it fits into the market more now than I have ever before. A few years ago I brokered a private sale for a buyer who was in search of a lake view vacation home. The home they ended up buying was in Knollwood, and the lake view is still there and impressive, as are my clients. Knollwood is located on the North shore of Geneva, roughly bordering Cedar Point Park to the West and Ara Glen to the East. Highway 50 guards the North boundary of the association, and the Lake does the same to the South. It's a large association, but not as large as a Cedar Point Park or Country Club Estates. The development lies entirely within Linn Township, creating a reasonable tax burden. The Linn Township location also means the properties are all served by private well and septic/mound systems, as municipal water and sewer are not available in Linn. The geographic location is ideal, leaving any home in Knollwood roughly a 7 minute drive to the city of Lake Geneva, and a 3 minute drive to the village of Williams Bay.
The convenient geographic location aside, what really sets Knollwood apart is the quality and size of their lakefront park. If you had to look for three things in a lakefront park, you'd look for a sand beach, ample grounds, and plenty of parking. Knollwood breezes through those criteria and adds large piers, for boating and a dedicated one for swimming, and a truly park like association setting. While the topography that makes up Knollwood is largely undulating, the lakefront itself is relatively level, creating easy access to and from the parking lot and lake. Of course many vacation home owners can walk to the lake, but in the event that your home is further from the water, the availability of a parking lot (gated nonetheless) is highly valuable. The lack of parking is always a trouble spot for me when considering a vacation home East of Cedar Point Drive in Cedar Point, as the distance to the lakefront parks is walkable, but not conveniently so.
Unlike many smaller associations, Knollwood typically carries a fair amount of active inventory. There are currently five single family homes active on the market right now, priced from around $320k with an average list price of $542,380. Slightly troubling is that there has only been one sale in Knollwood YTD, that sale being a wildly charming cottage that sold this summer for $304k. The inventory is a tad top heavy, which is obvious if you look back at historical sales to gauge the market here. 2008 was a terrific year for the association, when seven sales were registered YTD at an average sale price of $325,812. You need not be a math major to see that we have a pretty significant value gap between current inventory averages and previous sales price averages. Four of the sales in 2008 were priced under $400k, whereas only one of the currently available homes is priced under $400k. Looking back a little further, 2007 didn't record a single YTD sale, while 2006 added 4 YTD sales. It was also in 2006 that I sold the private lakeview listing, which closed at a price of $862k as I recall.
It boils down to this. If you're looking for a high quality lakefront association in a convenient location, Knollwood is worth your time. The lakefront is impressive, and among the larger associations, this is indeed my absolute favorite park on the lakefront. The sand beach might be taken for granted, but it's the largest private sand beach on the lakefront, so if you have younger children that crave sand and water, you owe it to them to look at Knollwood. I think you know who to call if you'd like a tour of the property. Knollwood asked me to ask you why you're ignoring it.