A Good Deal on a Car Dealer’s Winnetka House

List Price: $1 million
Sale Price: $900,000
The Property: In 2006, federal marshals seized this 7,400-square-foot, five-bedroom Winnetka house after its owner was charged with selling scores of luxury cars to Chicago gang members for cash as a way of helping them launder millions of dollars in drug profits…

A $1 million house in Winnetka

List Price: $1 million
Sale Price: $900,000
The Property: In 2006, federal marshals seized this 7,400-square-foot, five-bedroom Winnetka house after its owner was charged with selling scores of luxury cars to Chicago gang members for cash as a way of helping them launder millions of dollars in drug profits. The house’s owner, Amir Hosseini, had paid $1.925 million for the house in 2001, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds.

In March 2005, federal agents and Chicago police took more than 100 cars from Standard Leasing Sales, American Car Exchange, and SHO Auto Credit dealerships on the West and Southwest Sides. At the time, according to the Chicago Tribune, the U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said that one member of the Conservative Vice Lords estimated that 90 percent of that gang’s members had bought cars from the dealerships. Hosseini was the owner of the Standard dealership, the co-owner of the SHO dealership, and, according to the charges, the ringleader. “We’re not talking about car dealers who sold cars to people who happened to be drug dealers,” Fitzgerald said, but people who were “in the business to cater to people who were drug dealers and gangbangers.”

In February 2007, Hosseini and another member of the ring were convicted of racketeering, money laundering, and other charges; eight months later, Hosseini was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

As my picture shows, the five-bedroom house presents an underwhelming face of four garage doors to the street, but you can see from the online listing that its private side has a three-story façade in a Mediterranean style, with classical trim around windows and doors, and a clay tile roof. Inside, according to the listing, there is a rotunda with a curving staircase, a first-floor library, and a lavish kitchen. In June 2010, after the house had sat vacant for quite a while, Harris Trust & Savings got back the deed to the property. “There was about three feet of water in the basement, and some of the mold damage had spread to the first floor,” says Mike Olszewski, the real-estate agent who sold the house for the bank. “It was in horrendous condition. There were fixtures missing, and the home was suffering from years of deferred maintenance and a little vandalism.”

The bank fixed all the mold damage, but it otherwise left the house in as-is condition, Olszewski says. The property went on the market in September, with an asking price of $1,399,900; the price was later cut to $1 million.

Price Points: When built in 1999, the home sold for $2,106,500 (to buyers whose personal names are obscured on the deed), or 8 percent more than Hosseini paid for it two years later. This latest sale, which closed on March 4th, came in at about 42 percent of the 1999 price, not counting what the buyers will have to spend to make the house habitable. Olszewski, who would not identify the buyers, could not estimate what they will have to spend. “It’s going to take a lot to get it back to the standards of the North Shore,” he says.

Listing Agent: Mike Olszewski of Area Wide Realty; 708-656-3333

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3 years ago
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