A lovely Lakewood Balmoral Queen Anne at 5344 N Lakewood is still for sale — the price has been reduced to $1,050,000.

This 1893 Victorian 5 bedroom home, on a 37.5′ wide lot, has been on the market for 120 days.  The current owners purchased it in September, 2008, for $ 1,187,000- they snapped it up after it had been on the  market for only 3 days.

This is one of several homes in the historic Lakewood Balmoral neighborhood that didn’t sell in the last year.

Why did these vintage historic homes NOT SELL?

  • When the market contracts, buyers forego the outlying neighborhoods for those more traditionally sought after (and near the city).  Those who wanted to live in south Lakeview or Lincoln Park but couldn’t afford the prices have had some success lately snagging distressed homes at cheaper prices.  In their minds – why live north when you can be closer to the city for the same price? In response, the homes in outlying neighborhoods, such as Lakewood Balmoral, will have to reduce their prices further to stay competitive with the cheaper homes selling in Lincoln Park/Lakeview.
  • Historic vintage homes generally are not in favor today- unless they’ve been totally restored.  Few buyers today want to put in the money or “sweat equity” to create the home of their dreams.  They want to buy a turnkey “McMansion”.  Faced with a competitive buyer’s market, sellers have to repair, improve, and fully stage their homes  in order to attract offers (on top of pricing them competitively!!!).  Tired and functionally obsolete homes must be priced much lower to compete with shiny new homes.

  • Let’s face it — the older Victorian double parlor / no-great-room floor plan is out of style!  Few buyers have the dollars available to undertake the $ 400K + renovation to add a great room on a home that doesn’t already have one, and they’re willing to keep searching until the great room post-90’s single family becomes available.  Don’t even mention the basement!  Ever see a pre-1970 single family basement (unless it’s had a full blown dig-out)?  Concrete floors, low ceiling, metal posts breaking up the floor plan….  highly inconvenient for today’s highly desired media room/home theater/kids’ gynormous plastic playroom (say most buyers today).
  • Schools –nothing beats being in a good neighborhood school district.  Look at properties around Abraham Lincoln, Bell, and Blaine Elementary Schools.  They shot through the roof, and are still relatively stable given today’s soft market.  Lakewood Balmoral’s  Peirce (elementary) and Senn (high school) district isn’t a value-builder.

So how do vintage home sellers get offers in Lakewood Balmoral, East Ravenswood, Graceland West…..?

It’s a challenging recipe!  Read my next Historic Homes blog post for answers!

For information on Chicago historic homes, contact Anne Rossley at Prudential Rubloff.

BEWARE!– the explanations revealed in this blog DO NOT reflect the writer’s love and devotion for historic property nor of the Lakewood Balmoral neighborhood- this blog merely describes the prevailing thought process used by the masses in their home-buying purchase decisions.

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