A recently-sold River North townhouse

List Price: $1,849,900
Sale Price: $1,575,000
The Property: Five years ago, this 7,000-square-foot townhouse in a former industrial section of Chicago’s River North neighborhood sold for $3 million. This spring, following a foreclosure, it went for $1.575 million—or 52 percent of its 2006 price.

The buyers, John and Jackie Baldassari, weren’t shopping foreclosures specifically; they were focused on the Near North Side and wanted a large home. “We saw this, and we saw places that were 4,000 square feet for $2 million,” says John Baldassari, an investment adviser for Wells Fargo. “It didn’t make sense [to spend more].”

The Baldassaris’ agent, Steve Missirlian of Chicago Apartment Seekers, notes that, on a price-per-square-foot basis, his clients got quite a deal. They paid about $225 per square foot, while another home they considered—not in foreclosure and several blocks north in Old Town, a more established neighborhood—went for $347.40 per square foot. That home was smaller by 2,000 square feet, but it still went for $1.737 million.

With ten rooms, an elevator, and three balconies, today’s home is part of an area where decaying industrial buildings and Montgomery Ward’s employee parking lots have been replaced by mansions, townhouses, and condos over the past decade. Henry Jones, the agent who sold the home for the foreclosing lender, Deutsche Bank, says that the home has a very large gourmet kitchen with a commercial stove, double ovens, and a wine cooler. Its master bath, he says, has a shower that “could fit six or seven people and has speakers inside of it.”

In December 2008, the Chicago Tribune reported that Congressman Luis Gutierrez had been a short-term investor in the home during its construction. After four months, the newspaper said, Gutierrez sold his share in the project and netted a $52,000 profit.

Baldassari says that he and his wife had been renting nearby for about a year and enjoy the neighborhood’s restaurants and the short walk to Michigan Avenue. They were happy to buy in the area at a low price, he says, because the area “will be a hot spot for many years.” They closed on the sale in mid-February.

Price Points: The 2006 buyer who paid $3 million for the home was hit with Deutsche Bank’s foreclosure action in 2009, and in August 2010, the bank put the home on the market with Jones, asking $2.375 million. The price dropped three times before landing at $1,849,900 in November. The home behind this one also sold at foreclosure this spring; it went for $1.625 million. I could not determine its previous sale price or mortgage amount.

Listing Agent: Henry Jones of Jones Realty Co; 312-602-9830