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Down (20 Percent) by the Riverside

List Price: $899,000
Sale Price: $795,000
The Property: In December 2003, fresh off an extensive restoration, this house in a picturesque section of Riverside sold for $1 million…

A restored home in Riverside

List Price: $899,000
Sale Price: $795,000
The Property: In December 2003, fresh off an extensive restoration, this house in a picturesque section of Riverside sold for $1 million. Last week, it sold again, for $795,000, a little more than 20 percent below that nine-year-old price.

“Well, that’s where the market is,” says Judy Jisa, the Burlington Realty agent who represented the sellers both times. The most recent sellers, she said, were moving to another state and “understood what’s going on in the market.” Eric Zuschlag, who with his wife, Beth, sold the house on January 23, declined to comment.

Built in 1889, the 11-room house stands on a low hill overlooking the Des Plaines River as it rambles into the oxbow that surrounds the original residential neighborhood of Riverside that locals call the First Division. With its broad front porch framing the view over parkland to the water, the house exemplifies the close relationship with nature that Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux wanted for the residents of the little suburban village they laid out in 1868.

Eric Zuschlag’s research, on file at the local historical museum housed in the town’s water tower, shows that the home was originally owned by John C. Smith Jr. His father, brevetted a brigadier general during the Civil War, served as lieutenant governor of Illinois from 1885 to 1889.

The Smith family, who dubbed the house Lonesome Hurst, may have lost the home during the Great Depression, Jisa says. There were only two or three more owners before 1997, when Julie and Jeff Kochanek paid $415,000 for the somewhat battered house. It still had much of its original woodwork and stained glass—which can be seen in the most recent listing photos—but the Kochaneks redid virtually everything else (as they told me for an article in the April 2004 issue of Chicago). That included updating mechanical systems, creating a large new kitchen in the original kitchen footprint, and turning the third-floor ballroom into a master suite.

The Kochaneks moved to Indiana and in December 2003 sold the house for $1 million—from a $1.225 million asking price—to the Zuschlags. They put the house on the market in March 2012, asking about $947,000, Jisa says.

Price Points: Jisa says that the drop in the house’s sale prices from 2003 to 2013 closely tracks what’s gone on with Riverside home values overall. My own research, for the annual real-estate charts we will publish in the April issue, shows that Riverside’s prices in 2012 were about 33 percent below their level in 2006, the last of the bubble years. But Jisa says that Riverside real estate “has picked up in the past few weeks. We’re getting two or three offers” on homes, including on this house. The buyers are not yet identified in public records.

Listing Agent: Judy Jisa of Burlington Realty; 708-447-7207

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