Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Island Market

Fractional Ownership Offered on Private Island in Wisconsin

Hit by the economic downturn, the owners of a private island on Little Muskego Lake in Wisconsin are looking to fractional ownership to keep them afloat. Will buyers be enticed by the shares – starting at just over US $69k?

(Image Courtesy of Muskego Patch)

It’s an all-too-common tale in the United States these days – people discovering that their properties, no matter how attractive, are languishing in the doldrums of the country’s depressed housing markets. While many other aspects of the US economy have begun a tentative recovery since the 2008 recession, housing has remained a visible laggard, with once-skyrocketing prices now returning to the pre-bubble era of the early 2000’s.  This depression, according to a report in the Muskego Patch newspaper, has even affected one local private island.

The three-acre island on Muskego Lake, historically known as Bergen’s Island, was purchased by Tom and Jennifer Sauer in 1999, who have been renting it out on a weekly basis to cover costs. Available in its entirety for around US $375 a night, the island is ideally situated for fishing, hunting, and just enjoying the bucolic views of the native wilderness. The 1,800 square foot home, completely renovated in 2002, offers lake views from every window, a Jacuzzi, a wrap-around deck with a swing, and plenty of the comforts of civilization.

One reviewer, who came in the heart of winter, was glowing about her family’s experience: “The island was a perfect location for our family getaway weekend. We felt like we were on a retreat with little attention paid to clocks ticking and rushing through a packed schedule. Instead we enjoyed the warmth of the fireplace, the gathering together around the table for meals, thoughtful conversations, and views of the frozen lake.”

(Image Courtesy of Muskego Patch)

Another reviewer on a local advertising website wrote that: “We spent a week on the island and had a great time. The home’s unique location was the highlight. Surrounded on all sides by Little Muskego Lake, the home gives the feel of being ‘up north’.” Yet despite its charms and happy visitors, the island was a tough sell on the market.

Originally intending to sell the island whole, the Sauers were unable to find a buyer, citing the current depressed market conditions. As Tom Sauer is self-employed, he found that banks, which rapidly became unwilling to lend during the crisis, were unwilling to refinance his property. With no sale or leverage on the horizon, a creative solution would have to be found. Having read about the growing popularity of fractional ownership in other types of properties, and after mulling it over for a year, Sauer decided it may be a perfect match for the island.

The owners hope to sell 9 shares in the island at $69,900 each – allowing purchasers to use the island for one week out of every three months, and themselves retaining use of the island, as well. Recently appraised at $750,000, some prospective fractional owners may find this a bargain. Connected to the mainland via a driveable causeway, the island is close to local amenities. Found  just 90 miles from Chicago, and even closer to Milwaukee, it has access to perfect markets to find city-dwellers looking for the occasional country retreat.

According to the article, the owners say that three or four people have shown serious interest in the investment so far, and a major part of the attraction is the hands-off approach that busy investors will enjoy. “I think it’s priced affordably if someone is looking for a second home that they don’t have to drive five hours to go and maintain,” said Sauer. “I know there are people who would love to do this if they knew about the opportunity.”

To read the article, please visit:

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