List Price: $589,900
Sale Price: $590,000
The Property: Last Thursday, November 29, John Williams, the afternoon host on WGN Radio, and his wife, Brenda, sold their home of 11 years, a brick Tudor in La Grange Park. They are moving to Minneapolis, where Williams will work for WCCO-AM. Since April 2010, he had been hosting shows on WGN and WCCO, but he is leaving WGN in December at the end of his contract there.
It was the couple’s second house on the same block; they moved from just a few doors down in 2001. “Our kids were in school, so we didn’t want to go far but wanted more room,” he says. “ You wonder about people who move across the street? Meet me.”
Built in 1925, the house stands on a corner lot in a neighborhood of historical homes. It’s a few blocks from the La Grange Park Woods and Salt Creek Woods tracts of Cook County Forest Preserve, which contain a bike path to the Brookfield Zoo. Six blocks away are La Grange’s Metra station and humming downtown, and Ogden Avenue Elementary is nearby, as well. “It is a family neighborhood, that’s for sure,” Williams says.
The house has three second-floor bedrooms and three full baths. Two original bedrooms on the first floor have most recently been used as an office and a TV room. Williams says that the big basement was a plus: with room for a pool table, a sitting area, and a kitchen, “it was great for parties.”
Photos that accompanied the listing show crisp colors, some arched interior doors, and, in the living room, a wall of built-in bookcases. “That intrigued [potential] buyers,” says Kerri Mahon, the listing agent. “Everyone who saw it said these sellers must be so cool.” But, she adds, she did never revealed the names of her clients. The buyers, who are not yet identified in public records, are moving from the city, Mahon says.
The Williamses paid $505,000 for the house in September 2001, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. While in the house, they made many improvements, according to Mahon, including putting on an all-new roof; installing air conditioning and insulated windows; gut-remodeling two bathrooms; and giving the kitchen a cosmetic upgrade that entailed putting in new appliances, painting the cabinets, and laying new countertops.
A Joliet native, Williams interned at WGN in 1980 and worked at other stations before he began hosting a talk show at WCCO in 1993. He signed on at WGN in 1997, and for six months in 2008-09 was the host of the station’s morning show. He moved back to midday after that, and in 2010 started doing the double Chicago and Minneapolis shows. (Disclosure: I have been a guest on his show numerous times to talk about real estate.)
The departure is bittersweet, Williams says. “When you move from a neighborhood, you are suddenly reminded of how many friends you have and how much you like them. My focus had been so much on the details of the move, I didn’t really think about it, and then it hit me, literally as we were walking out the door.”
Price Points: Four offers came within a few days of the home going on the market on October 8, resulting in a sale at slightly above the asking price. “That makes you feel good and gives you pause,” Williams says. “We try not to what-if this market. If we wanted to be patient and more aggressive, I do think we could have made more. But the trade was a quick, clean sale at our price, and there’s something to be said about that.”