This Couple Bought a Bargain Foreclosure and Sold for a Big Profit

This rehabbed Wicker Park place was like tossing fresh meat into this spring’s hot market—and its $822,500 price was still a six-figure increase for the sellers.

A recently sold foreclosed home

Photo: Dennis Rodkin

List Price: $839,000
Sale Price: $822,500
The Property: A couple bought this home after its foreclosure in 2011, and an unexpected job transfer this spring made them seem doubly smart: Smart once for saving big bucks by buying at a discount, and smart twice for then being able to sell on a moment’s notice and still make a profit.

“They made out well by following the cycle [both] down and back up,” says Robert Macko, the listing agent on the sale, which closed May 23. They seriously lucked out in having to sell when the market was super-hot this spring. Macko says that he posted the listing in MRED’s multiple listing system at 11:30 p.m. on April 16, and “at 11:40, I got an e-mail asking for a showing the next day. I don’t think I’ve ever had somebody act so quickly on one of my listings.” He says there were about 20 showings in the next three days: “It was absolute pandemonium.”

The house went under contract April 19—not to those first e-mailers, Macko says—and the sale closed May 23.

Here’s the backstory: Hubert and Louise Stoffels had paid $531,000 for the home in June 2011, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. At that point, the house had been on the market for a little more than three years, its price dropping several steps from an original February 2008 ask of $849,900. The bank took back the property in early 2011 and re-listed it at $531,000.

Transferring in from out of town, the Stoffels (who declined to be interviewed for this article) looked at discount properties in part because “they didn’t expect to be here for 15 years,” Macko says. Buying at a discount would make turning the house over when the next relocation came along less likely to be a financial hardship. But Macko says they didn’t expect to transfer again so soon.

While in the house, the Stoffels saved money by “investing sweat equity,” Macko says. “They’re house people; he’s very handy, with a lot of skills.” Their upgrades included rehabbing the kitchen. Built in 1888, the house has three upstairs bedrooms plus one in the basement and had been remodeled into a more open plan than the fusty, small-rooms style of that era. The photos that accompanied the listing show a nice kitchen and stylish finishes like bubble-textured wallcovering, horizontal tile work, and exposed brick.

When the news of an out-of-town move arrived this spring, Macko says, “they wanted it sold quickly.” Their wish was granted, thanks to the combination of the low price they had paid and the heated-up market in neighborhoods like Wicker Park.

They tossed onto the market the equivalent of fresh meat: a house that looks good in a great location and priced well. Buyers snapped it up fast. By the end of its three days on the market, Macko says, “I was exhausted.”

Price Points: Macko would not say what the sellers had spent on their improvements to the property; that means we don’t know just how much profit was in the $291,000 difference between what they paid for the house and what they got for it. “There was definitely a good profit for them,” Macko says.

Listing Agent: Robert Macko of American International Realty, 847-401-5447; bmack99@aol.com

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