Posted in: Selling a home, Lakeshore homes

Is it time to sell your lakeshore home?

Sunset over a lake

Key insights:

  • It’s a great time to be a lakeshore owner — and an even better time to be a seller. Many areas are seeing spikes in vacation home sales and prices.
  • Selling your home doesn’t mean you need to leave lake life behind. Check out other lakeshore homes and cabins that may better fit your needs.
  • Still contemplating whether or not it’s the right time to sell? Gain confidence in your decision with guidance from local housing experts.

If you’ve been holding on to your lakeshore home, it may be time to consider selling. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, vacation home sales were up 16% in 2020, as more people sought out safe retreats and took advantage of remote work opportunities due to COVID-19.

Locally, the trend is similar; buyers are circling and are ready to purchase lakeshore properties, and the low inventory in the traditional market is extending into the waterfront home sale market.

Outlined below are a few of the top markets for lakeshore home sales, with data provided by Multiple Listing Services in Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin. But remember, everything is hyper-local, so we recommend connecting with a real estate specialist who knows the lakeshore trends in your area.

Market snapshot: Brainerd Area

Waterfront home sales in the Brainerd area are up over 6%, and so are prices. In July 2021, waterfront properties in the Brainerd statistical area reached an average sales price of $509,000. That’s the highest prices have been in the 15 years our data covers.

Meanwhile, new waterfront listings in Brainerd are not coming on the market fast enough, and all indications point to a very strong sellers’ market. New listings are down 5%, but sales are up 14% and the average days on market is down to just 88 days, a decrease of 43% from last year.*

The lesson here? If you’re considering offloading your Brainerd home on the water, start the process now. If the steady flow of hopeful buyers continues, high-quality waterfront homes in Brainerd may sell faster and for more money than they have in the last 15 years.

Search Brainerd waterfront homes.

Market snapshot: Alexandria Area

In Alexandria, lakefront home prices increased 21% in July 2021 over the previous year. Alexandria waterfront homes are now selling for a median price of $380,000. Sellers are also getting what they ask for, averaging 99% of their last listing price at the closing table.

Buyer demand is surpassing inventory, and the number of new lakeshore listings in Alexandria decreased 12% in July, even as pending sales increased by 7%*. Whether you have an Alexandria lake cabin or a larger Alexandria luxury waterfront home, it may be a great time to sell to eager buyers who are already in the market.

Hunt for lakeshore homes in Alexandria.

Market snapshot: Siren, Wisconsin Area

Siren, Wisconsin has always been a desired spot, but this year’s stats show a clear surge. Lakefront home prices in Siren increased 19% in July over the previous year, giving Siren lake homes and cabins a median sales price of $277,500.

While new listings are increasing, with a 16% increase in July, they aren’t keeping up with the pace of sales, which were up 24%. Waterfront home sellers in Siren are also receiving more than 102% of their last list price at the closing table.*

The message? Your Siren-area lakefront home may be in high demand. By listing in the next month or two, you can still catch 2021 buyers who are hoping to close a deal quickly.

Search Siren, Wisconsin lake homes and cabins.

Market snapshot: The Twin Cities

Of course, not all lakeshore homes are up north or in western Wisconsin. Many of them are within our 13-county metro area. Right now, this local market area is seeing its highest median lakeshore home sale price in over 15 years, at $622,500. While that’s already great news for our local market, the real celebration is taking place at the closing table.

Lakeshore home sellers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area are garnering 100% of their last listing price and average days on market has decreased 33% from last year, down to just 60 days*. That means in most cases, homes are selling faster and buyers are willing to pay a fair price. If you’re thinking of selling your waterfront home in Minneapolis, St. Paul or the surrounding suburbs this year, you’re likely to get the list price you’re asking for — and a faster path to the closing table.

Search for lake homes in the Twin Cities.

Other considerations for lake home sellers

While market data is important, you might want to reflect on other aspects of your lake home when making your selling decision. Ask yourself these questions if you’re still on the fence about selling.

Does the size of my lake home fit my needs, including hosting guests? If your family or friend group has expanded since you first bought your lakeshore property, it may be a tight squeeze when all the guests come for the weekend. Outside of selling, your best options are to limit your guest list or expand your current property’s footprint.

Is it too difficult to maintain my lake home throughout the year? Whether your property is higher maintenance than you were expecting, or you simply don’t get to the lake home as often as you hoped, the maintenance may begin to overwhelm your weekend trips. If you’re not ready to sell, you could consider hiring a year-round resident or maintenance worker who can do some of the upkeep so your weekends away are more relaxing and less work-intensive.

Am I spending enough time at my lake home? No matter how much you prioritize life at the lake, there are plenty of close-to-home summer activities that can keep you from heading lakeside each weekend. If you’re starting to feel that your lakeshore property isn’t being used as much as you’d like, you may want to consider renting it out on off-weekends or even think about co-owning a property with family or friends.

Is the location of my lake home ideal? Consider your commute time and access to shopping, entertainment and other amenities. If you’re spending too much time getting to and from your cabin each weekend, or heading into town for basic errands, you may want to consider a location that works better for you.

Is this the right lake for me? Whether you’re a wakeboarder, an avid fisher, a kayak enthusiast or simply want to boat to a dockside restaurant every weekend, there is a right lake for your needs. If you’ve realized that your lake doesn’t match with your interests, it may be worth speaking to an agent who can help you find the right waterfront property for you.

Keep in mind, wanting a home that better meets your needs doesn’t mean you have to give up living by the lake. However, it could indicate that it’s time to move to a different lakeshore property.

Prepare to list your lake home for sale

Remember, we’ve highlighted the market details for a few areas in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. But every county, city, lake or river can vary in its conditions for local sellers. The best way to get started on the process of selling your waterfront home is to get a professional home value estimate from one of our experts.

Reach out to Edina Realty or your agent to get an expert opinion of what your waterfront home is worth today.

* Based on information from NorthstarMLS for the period 2020-2021. Data is based on 12 months of activity ending July 2021.

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Status Definitions

For sale: Properties which are available for showings and purchase

Active contingent: Properties which are available for showing but are under contract with another buyer

Pending: Properties which are under contract with a buyer and are no longer available for showings

Sold: Properties on which the sale has closed.

Coming soon: Properties which will be on the market soon and are not available for showings.

Contingent and Pending statuses may not be available for all listings