List Price: $899,000
Sale Price: $840,000
The Property: By the time this stately Evanston house sold in February, it had been on and off the market for almost five years, its asking price slowly sinking from $2.1 million in 2008. The $840,000 sale price was just $1,000 more than the house sold for in 2002—and it had been renovated since then.
Set on a block of historical homes near Lake Michigan and Evanston’s downtown, the house is one of several hundred buildings in that city designed by the architect Stephen Jennings from the 1880s through the mid-1890s—whereupon he decamped for Seattle. Many of the Evanston homes Jennings designed are substantial and broad but without much fuss on the façade—in keeping with the town’s reputation at the time as a place for affluent people of “high character.”
Today’s property, built in 1883 with seven bedrooms, large living spaces, and a wide porch, still had many vintage features intact in the early 2000s, says Jodi Serio, the @Properties agent who sold the house this year for the lender that had taken it back from homeowners.
Those owners had done an extensive restoration, Serio says. The house’s abundant interior wood trim had never been painted, and they kept it that way, as you can see in the listing’s photos. They installed a new kitchen, whose design reflected the home’s origins, and otherwise “respected the vintage,” Serio says. In the listing photos, be sure to check out the wood staircase and the curves in the wall and ceiling.
The house lingered unsold for a few years, its asking price at one point dipping to $799,000—below where it would eventually sell—and going under contract twice without ever closing. “At that point it was [being offered as a short sale], so the bank must not have agreed to the deals,” Serio reasons. The homeowners released title back to the bank in late 2011. When Serio got the listing in 2012, the house itself looked great inside, Serio says, but “it was hard to market because there was a lot of other mess in there.”
She priced the house at $899,000, knowing she was offering a “spectacular deal.” She listed it officially on January 11 but had been able to show it before that. The sale closed February 8, to buyers not yet identified in public records.
Price Points: Serio says that she doesn’t know what the renovations cost; the foreclosed homeowners were gone by the time she got the listing. Data at the Cook County Recorder of Deeds show that in May 2008, the homeowners took out a mortgage of $2.838 million. The amount suggests an appraiser felt the home was at that point worth almost exactly $2 million more than the owners had paid six years prior; instead it sold for just $1,000 above the original purchase price. Whoops.