List Price: $3.195 million
Sale Price: $1.75 million
The Property: Secluded at the end of a long wooded lane in Lake Forest, this North Shore chateau had been on the market since May 2008. Its sellers were originally asking $5.8 million, but the house was sold on February 28 for $1.75 million—30 percent of its initial list price.
Built on four acres that back up on a Lake Forest Open Lands strong preserve, the French-style home stands behind its garages, as you can see in the photo above. The courtyard beyond the long garages (seen in the photo at right) offers the kind of welcoming embrace that would delight a traveler arriving after a journey across the Gallic countryside—or the half-mile trip along a narrow lane from Green Bay Road.
Sergio and Lucy Amato bought the land for the home in 1994, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. It had been previously owned by the family of Edward H. Bennett, who, with Daniel Burnham, coauthored the 1909 Plan of Chicago; he also designed Chicago’s Michigan Avenue Bridge (since 2010, officially known as the DuSable Bridge). Today’s 12-room house, designed by the architect Garret Eakin, was finished in 1997. It has six bedrooms, a library with knotty pine paneling, and numerous handcrafted architectural details.
“Truly the best time of day in that house was sunset, with the sun coming in the back as you looked out over the open lands,” says Kelly McInerney, the Amatos’ listing agent. “It’s a very romantic place”—though its secluded locale may have contributed to the slow sale. “Some people didn’t want to be in such an isolated home,” McInerney explains.
The Amatos cut their asking price half a dozen times over the years, landing in October 2011 at $3.195 million. At that point, according to McInerney—who was the sales agent for the property from its original listing in 2008—the eventual buyer made a bid of about $1.75 million. At that price, the home would have been a short sale—going for an amount less than what’s owed on the mortgage—but the lender, not clearly identified in public records, agreed.
Although she would not identify the buyers (and their names are not yet in public records), McInerney admits they got a great deal. “They had watched this house for years, and it was finally at a price they could afford,” she says. I could not reach the Amatos for comment, and McInerney would not discuss their reasons for moving.
Price Points: A few years back, affluent home sellers were often able to hang on longer than people who were farther down the income ladder. But as the depressed housing market ground on, many have seemingly opted to let go. In recent months, there has been a run of landmark North Shore properties sold at deep discounts. Among them were Bill Wrigley’s Lake Forest mansion, which sold at 35 percent of its original asking price; a Winnetka mansion (46 percent); another in Lake Forest (47 percent); homes in Wilmette (48 percent) and Winnetka (58 percent); and one in Highland Park (58 percent).