The priciest home sold this year is just one flight—and about $423,000—up from last year’s most expensive home.


A look at the past decade of high-end sales

For the year ending June 30, 2011, the highest price paid for a home in Chicago’s six-county metropolitan area was $8.606 million, which the sports executive Bryan Glazer laid out for a 6,432-square-foot condo on the 53rd floor of the Elysian [2], the superluxurious condo and hotel tower that opened at 11 East Walton Street in early 2010. Topping last year’s list was a 52nd-floor Elysian condo that an options trader bought for $8.182 million. Glazer, the cochairman of the family firm that owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team and the Manchester United soccer team, bought his condo in November 2010.

Since the heyday of the residential real-estate boom, the number of local million-dollar home sales has slipped precipitously. For the 12-month period from July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011—the same time frame covered by the house price charts that begin on page 80—1,363 area homes were sold for $1 million or more. That’s a slight decline from last year (1,419 sales), but it is only 59 percent of the number of $1 million–plus homes sold in 2006, the peak year for our survey (2,408 sales).

This year, high-end sales became more concentrated in blue-chip neighborhoods and towns, suggesting that much of the drop-off in those sales occurred in communities that had ascended into that elevated stratum during the boom years. In four of the five locations with the most $1 million–plus sales, the number of those high-end sales was up this year. The Near North neighborhood had 227 sales (up from 206 in 2010), Winnetka had 109 (up from 102), Lincoln Park had 99 (down from 141), Hinsdale had 98 (up from 91), and Lake Forest had 78 (up from 71).

Amid a glut of upper-end properties on the market, “those that have sold are properties that were priced right,” says Janet Owen, the Prudential Rubloff luxury property specialist who sold the second- and fourth-priciest properties on this year’s top-five list. “The buyers in the upper tier are knowledgeable about the market, and they will pick the property that they perceive to be priced correctly. It’s the sellers who realize that the market even affects the upper end who get their homes sold.”

Joe Nicholas homeCase in point: The year’s second-highest price was $8.5 million, paid by the hedge fund chief Joe Nicholas for an 11,000-square-foot home [4] in Lincoln Park. Represented by Owen, the residence was on the market just three months and never took a price reduction. On the other hand, the third-highest price—$7.2 million—came in April 2011 for a 66th-floor penthouse atop the Bloomingdale’s building [1]. Although it was on the market for less than three weeks, it fetched just 72 percent of the seller’s list price. Pam Miles, the Prudential Rubloff agent who sold the home, said at the time that the seller “was ready to move on.” So while the penthouse may not have been priced to sell, perhaps the seller recognized a current-market price when he saw it. (The buyer of that condo is not identified in public records.)

In fourth place is the $6.8 million that Michael Polsky, an energy company CEO, paid in October 2010 for the Gold Coast mansion [3] that had been the home of the banker Jamie Dimon before he moved to New York as head of JPMorgan Chase. The only top-five home sale outside the city limits was the lakefront Winnetka mansion formerly owned by Edgar “Ned” Jannotta, chairman of the William Blair banking firm, and his wife, Deborah, for which the buyer (not identified in public records) paid $6.5 million.

Hinsdale mansionEach of the five top home sales was in Cook County. Here are the top sales in the region’s other five counties:

In Lake County, two North Shore mansions tied for the top price. This past May, a lavish ten-year-old Lake Forest mansion sold for $5.5 million, though that was only 64 percent of what the sellers were asking when they put the house on the market in 2009. In June, a lakefront mansion in Lake Bluff also went for $5.5 million—the highest price ever paid for a home in that town.

In DuPage County, a mansion [5] in Hinsdale with seven bedroom suites—each has its own bathroom—sold for $4.65 million, 93 percent of its $4.995 million asking price.

Naperville homeIn Kane County, a 21-room waterfront house in St. Charles sold in July 2010 for $2.4 million; the same home had sold for $2.856 million in February 2005.

In McHenry County, a 13-room house in the town of McHenry, on 16.5 acres that encompass tennis and volleyball courts, a stable, and seven waterfalls, went for $1.55 million in January, after having been on and off the market since September 2007. That was a mere 58 percent of the sellers’ earlier asking price of $2.65 million.

In Will County, the priciest home sale for the year was a foreclosure—the first time a distressed property has made this list. Sold in 2007 for $2.65 million and foreclosed in 2009, the 16-room 12,600-square-foot Naperville home [6], overlooking a forest and the East Branch of the DuPage River, went in May for $1.29 million—48 percent of its 2007 price. (Some homes in the DuPage County section of Naperville sold for higher prices than this one.)

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Photography: (1, 2, 3, 4) Todd Urban; (5, 6) Dennis Rodkin