Crash Course

The region’s costliest homes took a beating, with declines in prices and the number of sales


WILMETTE: $7.25 million

 


EAST LAKE SHORE DRIVE:
$6.9 million


WINNETKA:
$6.5 million


LAKE FOREST:
$5.15 million

The high end of the real-estate market is feeling the crunch here, too. Over the past year, the top local sale was the $7.25 million that Jeffrey Chookaszian, a principal at McKinsey Consulting, paid in July 2007 for a 14-room house in Wilmette that was designed in 1914 by the Prairie school architect John Van Bergen. That’s a hefty sum—yet it is still $350,000 below the fifth most expensive house on last year’s list. (Each year, Chicago surveys the area’s priciest home sales; this year’s report looks at the 12-month period between July 1, 2007, and June 30, 2008—the same period covered by the house-price chart beginning on page 100.)

Overall, according to records at Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED), 1,627 homes in the city and suburbs were sold over the past year for $1 million or more—a 29.3 percent decrease from last year’s survey, when 2,304 homes were sold in that price range. Home sales at the upper end took less of a beating than the rest of the local market: In the 12-month period covered by our chart, the total number of home sales in all price ranges dropped by 41.5 percent from last year.

The densest concentration of high-end sales came in Chicago’s Near North neighborhood—where 236 homes went for $1 million or more—followed by Lincoln Park (126); Hinsdale (89); Winnetka (86); the Loop, including the area east of Michigan Avenue from south of the river to Millennium Park (85); and Lake Forest (80). Some privately conducted sales may not have shown up in MRED’s records.

One stratospheric sale doesn’t appear on this year’s list. In July 2007, the developer Orren Pickell paid $16 million for a 21-acre estate in Lake Bluff. But because Pickell is now building six new homes on the property, the deal seems to have been more a land transaction than a residential sale. These homes rounded out the region’s top five sales:

  • A 12-room, 6,300-square-foot co-op at 199 East Lake Shore Drive was sold for $6.9 million in August 2007; neither the buyer nor the seller is identified in public records.
  • In September 2007, Gregory Silich, the COO of Capital H Group, which consults on human resources, paid $6.5 million for a nine-year-old 15-room house on the Winnetka lakefront.
  • Also in Winnetka, a 15-room house owned by Peter and Shelley Hempstead (he is a senior executive at the Wrigley gum company) was sold for $6.4 million in October 2007; it originally had an asking price of $8.39 million.
  • At a nine-year-old building in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, an 18th-floor penthouse with 11 rooms and its own indoor pool was sold for $6 million in July 2007. The sale price, which was $1.75 million more than the asking price, may have included some of the furniture and art in the condo; the agent for the sellers, Glenn and Erika Kofman, declined to comment. 

The five top transactions were in Cook County. In the other five counties in the Chicago metro area, these were the year’s top sales:

  • In DuPage County, a new 9,000-square-foot Hinsdale mansion was sold for $5.2 million in December 2007.
  • In Lake County, a red-brick house built on the Lake Forest lakefront in 1955 was sold for $5.15 million in September 2007.
  • In McHenry County, a new 14,000-square-foot stone mansion on five acres in Barrington Hills was sold for $3.2 million in May 2008.
  • In Kane County, a two-year-old 13-room brick-and-limestone house in the Campton Hills area west of St. Charles was sold for $2.4 million in November 2007.
  • In Will County, a new 17-room Naperville house was sold for $1.49 million in December 2007. (Several houses in the DuPage County portion of Naperville sold for more than this property.)

Photography: Kim Thornton

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