Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lake Cabins versus Lake Homes

There was a comment recently on this blog, which was really more of a question on my thoughts pertaining to the difference between the lake cabin market and the lake home market. Or if there is a difference at all.

One thing many of my clients have heard me say over the years is to make sure they were buying a cabin where they want to have a cabin. In other words, if it is going to be your getaway you may want to know that it feels like that ahead of time.

Although there are many wonderful properties on lakes throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin, some areas have turned into what feel like residential neighborhoods with the majority of the owners living there full time. Those people many times have to get up for work each day and don't enjoy loud parties, laughing and music late into the night out their windows.

But cabin owners often have a different goal, and that is to wind down away from their daily routine...which sometimes means extra friends and family to help them in that process. And singing, joking, laughing, water-skiing, yelling and late-night campfires may all come into play, sometimes creating problems between neighbors.

Obviously, people live full-time on lakes everywhere. But as you get into more remote locations away from population centers, there may be more leniency toward weekenders and off and on "weekdayers" that might disrupt the solitude now and then.

Lake areas that are only a few miles from the Twin Cities were once mainly vacation homes and cabins, but today you won't find a lot of them left. If you want to have yours there, you may not be quite as welcome as you would a little bit further away. And if you're thinking of setting up a campground on your 50 foot lake lot for a few days (no matter where it is) - with some of the campers relieving themselves in the neighbors' bushes, along with disposing their beer cans in their yards - you might have a hard time getting invited to the neighborhood gatherings you don't host! Make sure you keep that in mind as you choose the setting that works for your needs.

I may have swayed some from the question about the contrast in the two markets currently, but I think it is important to understand the overall difference between an area that feels like it is meant for cabins...and one that may not yield the same emotion. And it certainly isn't only tied to lakes around the Twin Cities; you will find this same type of variation of properties around communities as small as Grand Rapids or Bemidji as well. It's just that the neighborhood-like atmosphere around the lakes won't extend as many miles away from the center of town as it does in the more populated areas.

It seems that at the present time the actual lake cabin market may be a bit stronger than that of the lake home market. But I think that part of that is due to the fact that some smaller cabin properties have dropped into a very affordable price range as low as $150,000 to $200,000, which was nearly impossible to find anything in a couple years ago. Many people that were once priced out of the lakeshore market completely are now back in it again based on this correction of prices, and that is seeming to spur the cabin sales.

As this activity has picked up in the lower end, it also seems like we are starting to get more contacts in the next price ranges above that than we were just a month ago. And we have also begun to get more of the calls like we used to, where people are looking for lake homes two or three hours away to retire to. Perhaps things are turning around in front of our eyes without us really recognizing it is happening.

I do think that some of the early buyers are now starting to see the values on many of these great lake properties that are priced like they were four or five years ago. If you are thinking of joining them, now might be the time.

2012 Update: The prices in the lakeshore market continued to decline across most of Minnesota and Western Wisconsin until this year, which has made it even more affordable for waterfront buyers to find good quality lake homes in many popular markets as low as $250,000 -- where those used to be prices for lots and cabins just a few years back. If you would like more information on current market conditions in the lakeshore real estate market, you can contact Dan Anderson at 888-346-5253, or find him on the web at Lakehomes.com or LakehomesMinnesota.com.

1 comment:

Lake Home said...

There are some wonderful lakehome prices around at the moment. It's a great time to buy!