A recently sold house in Oak Park

Sold: Notes from the Underground

The last time this house sold, in July 2011, it had sat on the market for 20 months. This time around, in May 2012, it was offered for just 11 days before finding a buyer. The difference? The basement.

Mike Miller and Emilie Debyl bought the house, which is a block from Oak Park and River Forest High School, for $923,000 last year, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. They then commissioned a $60,000 basement upgrade that included a fifth bedroom and a new media room, bar, and laundry room, says Cissy Binkley. A Baird & Warner agent, Binkley listed the 1917 Tudor in early May after Miller’s employer, Kraft Foods, transferred him out of state.

The sellers were asking $960,000—not even enough to cover their investment in the basement—but settled for $901,500. Binkley says that the new owners, who are not yet identified in public records, were only the second family to look at the home. In addition to the upgraded basement, the 3,052-square-foot Prairie-style residence features a three-season porch, a formal dining room that opens onto a big private patio, a sun-filled family room, and an elegant kitchen with walnut cabinetry, granite counters, and high-end appliances.


A recently sold condo in Millennium Park

Sold: Art Deco Discount


A 54th-floor three-bedroom, three-bathroom condo at the Heritage—the curving seven-year-old tower that overlooks the Cultural Center—sold in July for 8 percent less than what the sellers, John and Wendy Tinnon, had paid in 2005. Back then, the condo was just raw space, and they finished it in an art deco style. The cost of those improvements is unknown.


A North Park home currently for sale

Deal of the Month: $464,900

After a series of price cuts, that’s what Tim and Laura Jeric are asking for this four-bedroom house on a street adjacent to Northeastern Illinois University. The Jerics paid $522,500 for it in 2007 and spent $50,000 on renovations. In 2011, the home, which has a two-car garage and a big backyard, was appraised at $500,000. Sue Serra of Gabel Real Estate is handling the sale.




Average number of years you have to own a house in the Chicago area to make it a better deal than renting. That puts the city and suburbs at the low end among 224 U.S. metro areas surveyed.

San Francisco: 5.9 years

New York: 5.1

Boston: 4.3

Philadelphia: 3.8

Minneapolis–St. Paul: 2.7

Dallas: 2.1

Miami: 1.6

SOURCE: Zillow


Photography: Dennis Rodkin