List Price: $2.99 million
Sale Price: $2.7 million
The Property: This new English-accented home in Lake View’s esteemed Blaine School district is the first project sold by a developer who came into the struggling residential real-estate market with a strategy of capitalizing on sagging prices.
Andrew Bowyer’s company, Middlefork Capital, bought the lot (and the older home that stood on it) in September 2008 for $860,000—a 28 percent discount from the sellers’ 2007 asking price of $1.2 million. That savings and the advantage he gained from the reduced prices for labor and materials added up to more than $400,000. “That allows you on the back end to sell at a much more favorable price,” Bowyer says.
The architect Gary Beyerl of Burns + Beyerl designed a brick and stone exterior that complemented the neighborhood’s other homes. The sophisticated touches for the interior include barrel-vaulted ceilings in the dining room and master bedroom and a skylit staircase with a seemingly continuous handrail running up three stories. Toward the rear of the house, a glassed-in breezeway between the garage and the family room creates a partially surrounded terrace, complete with a large outdoor fireplace whose smooth limestone mantel is set into the garage wall.
The 15-room house has seven bedrooms, four full and three partial baths, and a three-car garage. It stands on a 32-foot-wide lot (compared to the city norm of 25) a few blocks from the great shopping and dining—as well as the Music Box Theatre—on Southport Avenue. The house was sold in early December; according to Elizabeth Ballis, Bowyer’s agent, it fetched the highest sale price in Lake View for 2010. In mid-January, the Cook County Recorder of Deeds reported that the buyer was a trust and did not identify anybody by name. Bowyer and his Ballis declined to name the buyers.
“A lot of people have asked me if it was really a smart idea, building luxury houses when the market was down,” says Bowyer, who was formerly in a consulting business, “but it was such a logical decision for me. You can get [property for] prices that you pass on to the customer later.”
Price Points: Bowyer now has two more homes nearing completion within a block of this home; he does not yet know what he will ask for them. In April 2010 he bought the property two doors up from today’s home for $399,000 after it had been foreclosed, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. A block east, he bought another site for $518,000 when the owner was facing foreclosure but had not yet lost the property. A new home by a different builder on that same block started 2010 priced at $2.25 million; after three price cuts, it’s now going for $1.999 million.
Update: Bowyer has settled on the prices for those two new homes. He has priced the house on the same block as today’s featured home at $2.599 million; the other house, with about 500 fewer square feet, will go for $2.399 million.