In a Down Market, Flatlining Can Be a Good Thing

List Price: $1.299 million
Sale Price: $1.325 million
The Property: The roofline isn’t the only thing about this Lake View house that is flat. On November 2, it sold for the third time in its six-year lifespan—and it went for roughly the same amount as it had the first two times…

A recently sold Lake View home

List Price: $1.299 million
Sale Price: $1.325 million
The Property: The roofline isn’t the only thing about this Lake View house that is flat. On November 2, it sold for the third time in its six-year lifespan—and it went for roughly the same amount as it had the first two times. Since Chicago home prices have been largely down that entire time, especially for residences built during the boom years, maintaining a relatively flat price line is something of note.

The house’s buoyancy has been helped in large part by location: It’s in the neighborhood served by Blaine Elementary, a highly ranked CPS school. “Living in a great school district is always a safety net for property values, even in a challenging market,” says Nancy Thomas, the home’s listing agent. “Purchasers are focusing on safe investments.”

Toss in quiet, tree-lined streets, full service by the CTA, and the abundant shopping, dining, and cultural resources of the Southport Corridor, and you begin to understand why home prices in the neighborhood have remained relatively stable during the bust years.

Even against that backdrop, this particular house is a standout for its stability. All three of its sale prices have been within about 4 percentage points of one another. When newly built in May 2006, it went for $1.375 million, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. It sold again in August 2008 for $1,322,500 (a decline of 3 percent) and again this month, this time for $1.325 million. That’s up 0.1 percent from the 2008 sale and 3.6 percent off the 2006 price.

By comparison, overall prices in Lake View are down about 10 percent from 2006, as indicated by my research into the records at Midwest Real Estate Data. That’s significantly better than many Chicago neighborhoods, where it’s still common, even after this past summer’s price increases, to be down more than 20 percent. But as you can see, today’s house has out-performed even its well-performing neighborhood.

Thomas also notes that the house is built of solid masonry, has been maintained well, and is on a one-way street—all attributes that buttress its rep as a safe bet. This time around, three potential buyers bid on the place, driving its sale price above the asking price of $1.299 million. Thomas says all three bidders either had kids at Blaine or have younger kids and wanted to be in the neighborhood when they’re old enough to enroll.

Price Points: Selling the house for within a few percentage points of what they paid doesn’t necessarily mean the sellers didn’t lose any money. Their transaction costs (agent commissions, next year’s property taxes, etc.) may have put them in the red.

Listing Agent: Nancy Thomas of Koenig & Strey; 312-893-3547 or nthomas@koenigstrey.com

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