Sellers of homes typically tout a location’s best qualities: its excellent schools, quaint shopping areas, or easy access to major commuting routes. But the owner of one southern Wisconsin property opted to extol a very unusual advantage of his location—buy there and you can get away from the corrupt politicians of Illinois.
“A lot of people are really fed up with what’s going on in Springfield and in Cook County,” John Lack says. He is the builder and resident, with his wife, Priscilla, of a rustic-style 6,500-square-foot home in Salem, Wisconsin, halfway between Kenosha and Lake Geneva. The couple built the place ten years ago and now has it on the market for $1.45 million.
On ads that Lack has placed on Yahoo, a series of attributes of the property scroll along, but one catches the eye more than the rest: Escape Illinois Corruption. “It’s definitely an attention-grabber,” Lack says. He moved out of northern Illinois about 13 years ago and says that the corruption there isn’t as much of an irritant to him as it is to the man who wrote the ad for him, Tony Muno, an ad salesman for the Daily Herald. (The Daily Herald has a deal to sell ad space on Yahoo as well as for its own newspaper and website.)
“Hell, yeah, I’m tired of the corruption,” says Muno, who lives in Palatine with his wife and children. “It’s ridiculous. I have kids in junior high and high school, so I’m anchored here,” he says. He channeled his frustration into ad copy when trying to distinguish Lack’s home from other online offerings. “I was thinking, this place is so close to Illinois, maybe you can attract somebody who’s sick of the corruption here,” he says. “Maybe somebody who has an at-home business on the North Shore can say, ‘I don’t need all this corruption anymore. I’m out of here,’ and move across the border.”
The goal with the ad was to reach affluent people between the ages of 35 and 65 who have conducted real-estate searches online (that would explain why the ad pops up on my screen two or three times a day). “I wanted them to think, ‘Hey, there’s an alternative. I don’t have to stay in Illinois [and pay taxes toward] corruption,’” Muno says.
The ads began running in May, shortly after the Lacks cut their asking price from $1.8 million (the house went on the market three years ago priced at $2.5 million). For June, John Lack has ordered 500,000 impressions from Yahoo, in the hope that the ad will connect with potential buyers who will then make the drive to Salem. Then, he says, “the house will sell itself.”
With wooden floors and beams, knotty pine kitchen cabinets, and custom-made Craftsman-style tile, the house sits on nearly 13 acres of woods, with public nature trails lacing an adjacent 90 acres of parkland along the Fox River. It certainly sounds peaceful—incorruptibly peaceful.