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Lake Geneva Real Estate Spring 2010 Update

I am often asked about the current Lake Geneva real estate market conditions, in fact I would guess that I have the question asked of me at least once a day by prospective Buyers, Sellers or just about anyone new that I meet when they learn that I’m in real estate.
Having worked in the Lake Geneva real estate market for over 30 years, I feel like I’ve learned many valuable lessons about the market and what makes our market different than many others. In fact there is a saying in our business that there really is no such thing as a “National Real Estate Market” but rather many individual markets that combined together make up the National Market. The point being that how good or bad the market may be doing is determined by many considerations including jobs and job growth, general business strength, foreclosures, the weather and lots of other things. More than any other factor when it comes to real estate is a healthy balance between supply and demand. The total number of all property for sale at any given time is referred to as the inventory.
The number of qualified Buyers actively in the market looking at any given time is referred to as the demand. A high amount of inventory and low demand is obviously not a good thing. It tends to make for more competition when it comes to pricing and can limit the potential for appreciation. A high amount of demand and low inventory can tend to drive up prices and increase appreciation. What caused a lot of problems in many markets was mortgage lending practices that allowed for low or no down payments and little or no documentation of the Buyers ability to be able to afford a mortgage and most importantly pay the money back. The fact is that for a variety of reasons, many loans were made to people that just shouldn’t have been made. The other factor in play was that in many markets there was an unusually high amount of new construction taking place that was being artificially driven by these large number of potential Buyers in the market. When the number of Buyers began to decline as a result of stricter loan qualification guidelines, in some markets the inventory grew out of control.
When it comes to the Lake Geneva market there are a number of things going in our favor that has helped us weather the storm. First, they’re not making any more lakes like Lake Geneva. Second, many people don’t want to drive more than 2 hours from home so the days of going to central or northern Wisconsin for many is not an option. Third, there just aren’t many other options for other areas for people to go to. Many don’t want to fight the traffic nightmare going south and around the lake over to Michigan.
When you factor in the number of families in Chicago and the suburbs who have the financial means the desire to find a getaway home within a couple of hours of home, we are fortunate to have somewhat of a captive audience and as close as one can come to an assurance of Buyers who will just naturally come to the Lake Geneva area to find that ideal concept of the “On Golden Pond” vacation home.
So the answer to the question of “How’s the market” will depend on the time of year and which specific type of property and price range is in question. But the general answer to the question, when it comes to Lake Geneva, is “better than many other markets” and just because Florida or California or Las Vegas is struggling, that doesn’t mean those same factors affecting those markets are applicable here.…