Realtors See Rising Demand for Lakefront Homes
The inventory of multi-million dollar lake front homes is larger than local realtors have seen in years, and they anticipate a busy season as buyers return to the market, and to Lake George.
“Traditionally, people interested in Lake George vacation homes don’t come up here to buy in winter; they’re spending their winters where it’s warm. But it’s a good, healthy market and I expect an onslaught of interest this summer,” Lonnie Lawrence of the Sherwood Group said earlier this spring.
According to Lawrence, there are at least 22 properties in the $1.5 to $3 million range for sale in the south basin alone.
“In the past few years, only four properties listed at prices of $2 million or above found buyers,” said Lawrence. “There are some fantastic properties out there.”
“We’ve worked through our supply of properties listed for less than $2 million,” said Dan Davies of Davies and Davies. “We expect the sale of homes in the $2 million range to pick up because this is the last, best opportunity to buy a property of that caliber. As the supply diminishes, the prices will rise. But as of now, it’s a buyer’s market.”
Sales of lakefront homes slowed after 2008, perhaps because prices did not reflect the decline in the economy.
Linda Boden of Leavitt Realty said that a property in the north basin that she helped sell for $1.8 million last year was originally priced at $3.2 million.
“Buyers aren’t making ridiculously low offers any more, but they’re still looking for concessions; if you’re interested in selling, you still have to listen to what the buyer will offer. Otherwise, a property in the $2 million range can stay on the market for years,” said Boden.
Buyers for $2 million properties are highly discriminating, said Lawrence.
“It’s not for lack of money that houses haven’t sold,” said Lawrence. “With taxes on lakefront property as high as they are, and with the costs of maintenance increasing, people want something they can use all year. If they can’t find something they like, they’ll rent by the month.”
Dan Davies noted that many buyers are especially interested in properties that have an Adirondack or rustic character.
“They want a style that’s different from their homes in the New York area; they’re getting away from busy lives and they want a house that reflects that relief at getting away from it all and which has a different atmosphere,” said Dan Davies.
Eight lakefront properties are for sale in the Town of Bolton, said Willie McDonald of McDonald Real Estate Professionals. Six priced within a range of $1.4 million to $2.175
were sold last year.
“In the past, it was a sellers’ market for lake front homes. But since 2008, people have grown more realistic about the prices they can expect to command. So there are some good values in Bolton, and as people grow more comfortable with the recovering economy, you’ll see more sales,” said McDonald.
Of the four properties that fetched $2 million or more in recent years, all sold above their assessed value. Only one property sold below its assessed value.
“The market value for lake front homes tends to be higher than the assessed value; in part because every lake front home is unique and there are few comparables,” said McDonald.
Lawrence noted that roughly half the homes sold on the lake are bought with cash, which also propels prices above assessed values. Banks are reluctant to grant mortgages for purchases when prices exceed assessed values, she said.
While the market for homes priced above $2 million has been slow thus far, realtors say the market for properties listed at $1.5 million and below has been busy.
Last year was the busiest for McDonald Real Estate Professionals since 2010, said Willie Bea McDonald.
Lawrence said the Sherwood Group was also busy, selling many properties within the $400,000 to $1 million range.
Davies said that his firm has already completed eleven transactions this year “and more are in the pipe line.”
“I’d say the market for multi-million dollar lakefront homes is percolating,” said Linda Boden. “With Lake George being considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, we can’t help but make a comeback.”