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Get a Pre-Recession McMansion at Yesterday’s Prices

In South Barrington, massive single-family homes continue to list at the same prices they did in the ’90s.

Though the Great Recession of the last decade is solidly in the rearview, its aftereffects still loom large over the American real estate market. In many ways, the recession catalyzed an awakening about using homeownership as a stand-in for financial security — and a greater debate regarding what types of residences younger generations will value.

No other structures illustrate this cautionary tale quite like the McMansion. The homes, which popped up en masse in the suburbs through the ’90s and 2000s, are easy to identify, with zig-zagging roof lines and arched entryways flanked by ornamental columns. Ironically, the aesthetic draws from actual bank designs — pillars and all — to evoke a physical manifestation of savings. The homes weren’t just a showcase of wealth, but the owner’s piggy bank.

Of course, when the market crashed, the inflated prices on these newly constructed structures plummeted.

In South Barrington, home to swathes of McMansions, the market has been slow to recover. There, large single family homes regularly hit the market at the same prices they sold for in the ’00s, indicating an enduring lack of demand in the northwestern suburb. 

Despite the risk that these homes presented leading up to the recession, it would seem they’re a more sensible investment today — so long as buyers know what they’re getting into. Pound for pound, McMansions are a ton of house for the money. But they’re not speculative equity, and they’re not a retirement account.

Here are five on the market that last sold for comparable prices at least a decade ago.

3 Spring Creek Drive, $1.198 million (Last sold for $1.2 million in 2001)

Photo: RE/MAX Central

Built in 2000, this 6,400-square-footer hits on all the McMansion design tropes: a dramatic entryway and foyer, a four-car garage, and a living room with incredibly high ceilings. Despite its grandeur, the house listed in March for the same price it last sold for nearly 18 years ago.

70 Wood Oaks Drive,  $1.098 million (Last sold for $1.184 million in 2008)

Photo: RE/MAX Central

Folks who bought homes in 2008, right before the crash, tend to have taken the hardest financial hit — and the pricing history on this 5,000-square-foot mansion backs that up. The property, which features five bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms, listed in February for nearly $100,000 less than it last sold for in early 2008.

3 Red Ridge Circle Current, $975,000 (Last sold for $915,000 in 1999)

Photo: Coldwell Banker Residential

Here’s an example of just how much house you could buy for less than $1 million at the turn of the millennium. Built in 1995, long before the housing bubble burst, the 5,800-square-foot property was worth $915,000 in June 1999 when it last sold. Today, it’s seeking only slightly more.

5 Mesa Drive, $799,000 (Last sold for $850,500 in 2008)

Photo: Coldwell Banker Residential

This 4,000-square-foot home sold for $850,000 in March of 2008, amid a financial panic that would turn real estate markets across the nation upside. The property was listed most recently in March — 11 years later to the month — with a price tag of $50,000 less than it last sold for.

17 Westlake Drive, $799,000 (Last sold for $835,000 in 2001)

Photo: RE/MAX Central

With a construction date in 1989, this 6,200-square-foot home was ahead of the game design-wise. However, aging interior finishes impact its value in Barrington’s already fragile housing market. The house is available today for $799,000, down $35,000 from its last sale price in 2001.

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