Sold: Wright Name, Wrong Price
In 1906, Frank Lloyd Wright designed this wood and stucco Prairie-style house on a wooded slope overlooking the Fox River. His client was a widow, Mrs. A. W. Gridley. Suffering from financial difficulties, Gridley had to sell it—to a windmill manufacturer—after living there for only six years.
Exactly 100 years later, the house was again caught up in an economic downturn: In November, it sold as a short sale (that is, for less than was owed on the mortgage) for $850,000. The sellers, Kevin and Mary Kane, had paid $980,000 for the house in 2004 and listed it in January 2009 at $1.575 million. The new owners, not yet identified in public records, got a steal of a deal: a classic Wright residence that received a pricey overhaul just 20 years ago.
“I know that it was for sale for a while, which is a shame, because it’s a beautiful house,” says Janet Halstead, executive director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy. “There may have been location issues. But I don’t think this one [sale] tells us anything about the [marketability] of Wright houses. Several have sold in the past few years for what were good prices, and there are others still on the market.” These include the George Millard House in Highland Park (priced at $1.15 million), the William Martin House in Oak Park ($1.295 million), and the Isidore Heller House in Hyde Park ($2.5 million); all three have been for sale for a year or more.
Sold: Minor Manor Gain
Built in 1926, this baronial mansion with a brick, limestone, and copper façade and a wood-beamed ceiling in the living room sold last fall for $1.91 million. The sellers, whose names don’t appear in public records, paid $1.85 million for the house in 1999. They had originally asked $2.4 million when they put it on the market last April. Their agent, Andi Wich of Coldwell Banker, did not respond to a request for comment.
February's Deal of the Month: $219,000
The owners of this one-bedroom loft in the Clybourn Corridor paid $240,000 for it in 2001. Now they have bought a new home and are eager to sell, “so we set the price below the current market [value],” says their agent, Dana DiPasquale of @Properties. Under a different agent, its asking price had been as high as $289,000.
3%: That’s how much rents rose on average for a suburban two-bedroom apartment from the third quarter of 2011 to the third quarter of 2012, according to the Chicago-based Appraisal Research Counselors. (The median monthly rent was $1,152.) Rents had risen 5 percent in the prior 12-month period, according to Ron DeVries, the company’s vice president. They slowed in 2012, however, as landlords focused on leasing empty units. “Owners had said, ‘Let’s fill the buildings,’ ” DeVries explains, “so in effect they were collecting more money without raising rents.” Now that rentals have exceeded a 95 percent occupancy rate, “owners are going to shift gears and push on rents a little more.”
Photography: (top) G. LeTourneau; (top right) Dennis Rodkin; (bottom right) courtesy of the developer