(Published Nov. 14, 2007, 10:33 a.m.)
There’s real hope for people looking for an affordable home in Wisconsin’s Lake Geneva area. It’s Geneva Homes, (847) 922-2599, and their 2,000-square-foot offering for $299,000 just a half mile from the lake.
“It’s all about hunting for premium lots at affordable prices, then building homes that are appealing to buyers,” explained John Bakken, president of Geneva Homes Inc. in a news release. “Also, being a small builder we don’t have enormous overhead, which helps us keep prices within the range of many middle-income families.”
Bakken, who has been building homes for over 20 years, uncovered a niche for affordable vacation homes in the Lake Geneva area that was largely ignored by other builders.
“Lake Geneva is known for its high-priced vacation homes,” he said. “Most builders are in the $450,000 to $750,000 range. Many of them figured there was no way to build an affordable home in the area, but we really did our homework and figured out a way.”
Geneva Homes’ sites include features that are in demand for vacation properties, such as close proximity to the lake, an abundance of trees, varied terrain, convenient access to major roads and enough land to accommodate a garage big enough for a boat.
“Many of the properties we find have been owned by families for years,” Bakken said. “There might be a small cottage on a large parcel and then the family situation changes and they decide to sell. These tracts of land are not plentiful. They’re disappearing fast and it requires a lot of research and the right connections to find them.”
Bakken, who lives with his wife Lisa and their four children in Lake Geneva, believes that buyers shouldn’t have to cut corners on vacation homes. To that end, he includes many features that most builders charge extra for such as 9-foot ceilings on the first floor, a fireplace, a whirlpool tub in the master suite, walk-in closets in every bedroom, hardwood flooring in the foyer, kitchen, dining and powder rooms, a full-basement, a top-of-the-line energy-efficient furnace and air-conditioning.
Other standard features that give each home the look of custom quality include 3 1/2- inch casings on all doors and windows, 5 1/4-inch base molding throughout, paneled solid core doors, a breakfast bar and 36-inch upper cabinets with crown molding in the kitchen, and KitchenAid ranges, microwaves and dishwashers. Bathrooms have ceramic tile on the floors and tub decks.
Knowing how important low maintenance is to vacation homebuyers, Bakken finishes the exterior with durable Hardiplank siding, which has a 15-year warranty on the color finish. It’s more expensive than cedar, but also has no cracks or knots. Other exterior features include aluminum overhangs; upscale architectural-shingle roofs and vinyl-clad energy-saving oversized windows.
Large front porches and dormers give each home the cottage ambience that, Bakken says, buyers are looking for.
“It’s a very nice standard package,” he said. “People don’t have to buy a lot of options to live in a home that meets their criteria.”
The price of the home does not include the garage, which Bakken customizes for each homeowner to accommodate recreational equipment. It generally takes about five months to build – meaning, for a spring move-in, fall is the best time to build.
“We’ve found a way to bring high-quality Lake Geneva area vacation homes to families and couples who never thought they could afford one,” Bakken said.
For more information and/or to make an appointment, call Geneva Homes at (847) 922-2599.
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