An Italianate Short Sale in Highland Park

List Price: $1.5 million
Sale Price: $1.2 million
The Property: This Italianate home with a two-story bay of windows positioned to capture breezes off nearby Lake Michigan was built in 1873 as a model home for the nascent Highland Park…

Highland Park home

List Price: $1.5 million
Sale Price: $1.2 million
The Property: This Italianate home with a two-story bay of windows positioned to capture breezes off nearby Lake Michigan was built in 1873 as a model home for the nascent Highland Park. The homeowners who renovated the house beginning in 2003 sold it on May 15 as a short sale, which means the place went for less than the amount owed on the mortgage.

The 11-room home stands on a one-acre lot on Belle Avenue, a blufftop enclave overlooking the Park Avenue fishing beach and boat launch. Jonas Steers, the man who constructed the house, built five of the six original homes on the street, according to Highland Park: Settlement to the 1920s by Julia Johnas. Today, there are ten houses on the block, four of them, including this one, tracing their origins to the Highland Park Building Co.

According to a document produced in 2001 for making Belle Avenue a local landmark, in 1927 this house got a two-story addition, presumably those bays on the east end. (The street is also part of a national landmark district that includes Linden Park Place, which is separated from Belle Avenue by a ravine.)

In 2003, Brian and Melanie Hoffman paid $1.15 million for the house, according to the Lake County Recorder of Deeds. Brian Hoffman has been an executive with Red Seal Homes, a family-owned development company. The recent listing sheet on the house, which first went back on the market in 2009, says the sellers conducted a renovation that included a new kitchen, new climate-control systems, and new lighting. The photos that accompanied the listing show quite a bit of original woodwork, large rooms, and an elegant sitting room in a glass-walled conservatory.

I could not reach the Hoffmans, and their agent, Debbie Scully, declined to comment on the renovation. The buyers are not yet identified in public records.

Price Points: The sellers were originally asking at least $2.2 million, Scully says. (I could not determine the exact amount.) The price came down several times over the next couple of years before landing at $1.5 million. The sale price is just 4 percent more than the sellers paid for the house nine years ago. Because I couldn’t get details on the renovation, it’s not possible to say whether the $50,000 the sellers got above their purchase price covered the cost of the rehab. The fact that the agent labeled it a short sale suggests that the renovation costs were lost in the sale. The recorder’s documents are unclear on the mortgage amount. Scully would only say that the house “should have sold for much more. It’s a victim of the market.”

Listing Agent: Debbie Scully of @Properties; 847-432-0700

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