A Frank Lloyd Wright home in Oak Park

Photo: Rick Talaske

OAK PARK (Under Contract)
When Laura and Rick Talaske decided to sell their house—a three-story 1903 gem by Prairie Style master Frank Lloyd Wright—they relearned a lesson from when they had bought it two decades earlier. “We price [Wright’s designs] as art,” says Laura, an agent for Better Homes and Gardens Gloor Realty. “But they sell as houses.”

In 2010, the couple listed the place at $1.6 million, or $900,000 more than they had paid in 1990. But it didn’t go under contract until this June, when the asking price was $1.2 million. (The sale is expected to close this month.) That price “makes sense for a home of this size in Oak Park,” Laura says, “but [ignores] the fact that we have 50 art-glass windows.”

Why don’t Wright buildings command a premium commensurate with their pedigree?

For one thing, they often have small kitchens, narrow doorways, and built-in furniture that limits decor options—and a few lack basements, which limits storage space. Because local governments granted some houses landmark status, making repairs or building additions requires navigating a byzantine approval process. And they have a reputation for being prone to crumbling foundations and leaky roofs (but “[only] a very small number have had those problems,” Laura insists).

Finally, they’re not as rare as you might think: At presstime, at least seven other Wrights were on the market in the Chicago area. See three of them below.


Three More of Frank’s Finest

A Frank Lloyd Wright home in Elmhurst
Photo: Courtesy of realtor.com

First listing: $2 million (September 2007)
Current listing: $1.3 million


A Frank Lloyd Wright home in Highland Park
Photo: Courtesy of redfin.com

First listing: $1.4 million (May 2011)
Current listing: $1 million


A Frank Lloyd Wright home in Hyde Park
Photo: Courtesy of redfin.com

First listing: $2.5 million (January 2012)
Current listing: $2.4 million

Got a question about the local market? Tweet @DealEstate or e-mail dennis@rodkin.com.