List Price: $1.65 million
Sale Price: $1.34 million
The Property: The television journalist Zoraida Sambolin and her husband, John Hobbs, have sold their six-bedroom Prairie-style home in Oak Park. The former morning anchor at WMAQ-Channel 5, Sambolin left Chicago late last year to become the cohost of CNN’s Early Start program.
The Oak Park house was built in 1905 in a neighborhood that now has many landmarks of residential architecture, such as houses by Frank Lloyd Wright (including his own home and studio) and other Prairie architects, as well as the house where Ernest Hemingway grew up. George Maher designed today’s house for the pioneering advertising man Charles R. Erwin and his wife, Melissa. They lived in the home with their ten children.
The distinctive element on the outside of the house is the curve-topped parapet over the front door, breaking up the horizontal Prairie look. Photos accompanying the listing showed that the large foyer, main living room, and staircase have much of their original banded wood trim intact.
Sambolin and Hobbs paid $1 million for the house in 2004, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. According to Patricia McDonald, the agent who sold the couple the house and then represented then in their recent sale, the home had been in the hands of one family for over 50 years; it was sold to Sambolin and Hobbs by the estate of a deceased owner. “It was in bad shape when they got it,” McDonald said. “It needed everything.”
Sambolin and Hobbs did extensive renovations that included stripping layers of paint off original wood trim and combining three small rooms into a modern kitchen. They created a master bath and walk-in closets on the second floor (reducing the number of bedrooms from seven to six), updated all the utility systems, and added a three-car garage. Outside, they installed a swimming pool, new landscaping, and an in-ground sprinkler system. An original porch on the south end of the house, open at the street side but screened toward the back of the house, now overlooks the pool, McDonald said.
Asking $1.8 million, the couple listed the house for sale January 3, one day after Sambolin and her CNN cohost, Ashleigh Banfield, debuted on Early Start with a fumbled prank call to a daughter of Robert F. Kennedy. The house went under contract April 30; the sale closed June 28. The buyers are not yet identified in public records; when I happened across one of the new owners in front of the house last Tuesday, he declined to comment or give his name.
Price Points: Although the Chicago Tribune reported last week that “Sambolin reaped a profit on the 5,288-square-foot house,” it’s possible that she and her husband lost money. Their top-to-bottom rehab and additions to the house and grounds may have cost much more than the $340,000 difference between their 2004 purchase price and last week’s sale price. Asked if her clients lost money in the deal, McDonald said, “They could have. I don’t know the amount they had in the house.” The sale price is 74 percent of the original January asking price.