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Lake Geneva makes top list

March 16, 2011 | 09:22 AM
What do The Hamptons, Aspen, Martha's Vineyard, Lake Tahoe, Pebble Beach, Palm Springs and Lake Geneva have in common?

According to Barron's financial magazine, they are among the top 15 second-home and resort communities in the entire country. Lake Geneva was ranked 14 on the list, which took into account attributes such as beauty, comfort, convenience, a range of lifestyles and most importantly, value.

"I think this is a testament to the great and beautiful area we live in and sometimes take for granted," Lake Geneva Mayor Jim Connors said. "It is great we are viewed by people in such a manner. Now our charge is to try to maintain that."

Geneva Lake Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director George Hennerley said the listing is "gratifying" to those in Lake Geneva. He said Lake Geneva has never rested on its laurels and is always trying to enhance popularity.

"We want to continue to be a quality destination and a place that is real, new and fresh and continues to renew itself," Hennerley said.

Keefe Real Estate agent Bob Webster was contacted by Barron's and provided a photo for the article and talked with someone doing research for the story. However, he wasn't told what the basis of the article would be.

He said at first they asked him about the real estate market and then about history and families on the lake. Webster said the researcher told him they were doing an article about Lake Geneva.

"I assume they saw that I had upper end, higher end listings," Webster said. "It's nice when someone like that picks you, but I don't know that it means a whole lot to be quoted in the story, but it is neat."

Webster also provided housing statistics and other information for the story when he was called by the magazine.

It wasn't until late last week he found out he was quoted in Barron's. He said, jokingly, some people are "jealous" of him being quoted in the magazine.

"I didn't know anything about it," Webster said of the article being out. "I have been contacted by a of people. Someone in my spin class at the YMCA came up to me and said I was quoted in Barron's."

As among the top real estate agents in the area, Webster said he was pleased Lake Geneva was on the list.

He said Lake Geneva's uniqueness is what lifts it to the level it's reached. He said there aren't are lot of markets in the Midwest that can compare to Lake Geneva and that is key to the area's continued success.

"It's impressive from a national perspective," Webster said about Lake Geneva.

According to the Barron's online, article:

"Wealthy Chicago families have long gravitated to the shores of Lake Geneva for summer and, increasingly, winter fun. A two-hour drive from LaSalle Street, the lake boasts 26 miles of shoreline and a reputation as the "Newport of the West." The Wrigleys, the Mortons (of salt fame) and the toilet-making Crane family all built mansions along the shore. Lake Geneva is now the preserve of the Pritzgers, AON founder Pat Ryan and noted investment manager Richard Driehaus. Some 35 lakefront properties are now on the market with more coming this spring. Good bargains pop up from time to time: A foreclosure sale of a home with 'lake access' garnered $1.5 million. In all, 17 homes changed hands last year.

Webster said the story also focused on the improvement of the second-home real estate market.

According to Barron's, overall luxury real estate sales are up 10 to 15 percent and are starting to move.

Webster said people may find it interesting to read about real estate news that isn't all "doom and gloom." He said this story is a positive slant on the real estate market.

"A second home is a state of mind more than a geographical location," Hennerley said. "I can't imagine this falling on deaf ears for our real estate community. It certainly is nice honor. All the people who live here in Lake Geneva are here because it's a great place."

Barron's is the country's premier financial magazine and this is the second time the list has been created. Seven of the 15 were on the list the first time around, all in the top 10. The list appears in the PENTA section of the current issue of Barron's. PENTA is a stand alone pullout special report that appears quarterly in Barron's. It offers advice for families with assets of $5 million or more.

"I think it should be looked as a great pride for all the communities surrounding the lake," Connors said. "It is positive PR for our area, a great honor and a testament to the lakes area."

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