Although it’s been a painful year in the real-estate market, there has been some news this week to make us all thankful: the announcement that the mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will not pursue any more foreclosures until January 2009, and the Federal Reserve’s plan, unveiled Tuesday morning, to buy up to $600 billion in mortgage-backed assets to help stabilize the economy and the housing sector.
Even so, we have a tradition here at Deal Estate—dating all the way back to last year—of serving up a platter of turkeys: houses that have been lingering on the market for a while not only because of the slow market, but because of their own apparent negative curb appeal. In the past few weeks, I shopped for turkeys in the city and the suburbs, and I’ve found a worthy handful—five residences that aren’t so much works of architecture as occasions of archi-torture. (In order to spare their owners, builders, or real-estate agents any embarrassment, I have withheld addresses and other contact information.)
Skokie (Frank Lloyd Wrong)
• This Skokie house may look like a small apartment building, but in fact it’s all one residence. The listing information touts the home’s “Frank Lloyd Wright design,” but those three different stripes of building materials suggest that the real architect here was Frank Lloyd Wrong. The four-bedroom, four-bath house, priced at $795,000, has been on the market for 445 days.
Park Ridge ("like a collage")
• In a Park Ridge neighborhood full of picturesque homes, this new brick and stone house seems more like a collage than a single, coherent picture. There is a stone turret on one side and a brick gabled bay on the other; windows of assorted shapes and sizes; and rooflines that are sometimes angled, sometimes curved, sometimes flat. This house seems unable to make up its mind—but buyers have made it clear that they intend to stay away: the house has been on the market for 505 days. The price is $1,349,000.
Highland Park (not enough windows, exaggerated arches)
• Another house that stands out in part because it is so much less sophisticated than its neighbors is this six-bedroom blonde brick residence that sits among gracious estate homes in Highland Park. All of the builder’s money allocated for windows seems to have been spent on the exaggerated arches beside and atop the front door. How else to explain the tiny windows on the rest of the façade? Priced at $1,125,000, the house has been on and off the market since May 2006, most recently for a stretch that is now at 283 days.
Skokie (again, not enough windows, especially on façade)
• Another home that skimps on windows is this one in Skokie—and that’s curious, considering that the windows on the front of this house would afford views of the splendid old golf course across the street. There is also the issue of the rough stone veneer: while I think it looks pasted on, some people would argue that the section around the front door gives the entrance some grandeur. But can we all agree that the panel of stones over the garage door looks like leftovers from the entrance that were left there by accident? This five-bedroom house, priced at $779,000, was completed in August 2006 and has been for sale since then. Its current listing is 407 days old.
Lincolnwood (shoehorned into lot)
• We have all seen big new houses that look as if they were shoehorned into their slim lots. But this seven-year-old house in Lincolnwood shows the strain: the middle part of the house seems about to pop out from its too-tight space between two other pieces of the house. The four-bedroom house has an asking price of $1,725,000; it’s been for sale for 273 days.
Are you full yet? Enjoy some real turkey tomorrow and meet me back here on Monday. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.