Michael Jordan’s Chicago-area mansion has been on the market for 7 years. A buyer may not exist

“It’s a tough sell. There’s a lot of work that would have to be done to make it your own.”

TRD CHICAGO /
Oct.October 17, 2019 03:00 PM
Michael Jordan and an aerial view of his Highland Park property (Credit: Getty Images)

Michael Jordan and an aerial view of his Highland Park property (Credit: Getty Images)

As his massive compound in Chicago’s northern suburbs collects dust, Michael Jordan is now trying to part with another sprawling mansion.

On Monday, His Airness listed a 10,000-square-foot mountain hideaway in the ritzy ski city of Park City, Utah. But the Park City home, for which he paid $7.9 million, already looks a good bet to sell before the Highland Park property he’s been trying to sell since Barack Obama’s first term in office.

The mountain retreat, built in 2006, has five bedrooms and eight bathrooms, with waterfalls on the property and dramatic mountain views. It’s priced at $7.5 million — cheaper than some neighboring mansions — and, though luxurious, lacks the extreme personal touches that define Jordan’s gargantuan Illinois compound. You won’t find a “23” welded onto the front gate or multiple basketball courts on the premises. Judging by the listing photos, you wouldn’t even know it was his.

It’s a very different story in Highland Park. The basketball great first listed the home in 2012 at $29 million, and has since slashed the price to $14.85 million. But even after four price drops, a failed auction and unsuccessful marketing tricks over the years, the property remains unsold and faces significant selling challenges, including a sagging suburban luxury market.

(Credit: Zillow)

(Credit: Zillow)

One key reason the home has failed to sell is the intense level of customization, brokers said.

“It’s clearly his home,” said Bruce Bowers of Bowers Realty Group. “It’s a tough sell. There’s a lot of work that would have to be done to make it your own.”

Gail Lissner, a managing director at Integra Realty Resources, said that while she couldn’t opine on the value of the property, comps are limited, especially in the home’s immediate neighborhood. “Any time you have these homes that are just kind of gross over-improvements for the area they do lead to very, very lengthy marketing times,” she said. “It’s located in an area that is much more modest.”

(Credit: Zillow)

(Credit: Zillow)

Homes at this price point are often situated along Lake Michigan — a couple miles from Jordan’s former home, she said. And there is not a robust market for such expensive properties in general. The home’s closest competition in Highland Park is a $9.75 million home on Crescent Court. It’s about a third of the size of the Jordan estate, sits directly on Lake Michigan and boasts a private beach. Bowers Realty Group reported the average median Highland Park for 2019 was $520,794 as of September. This is down from an estimated home price of $672,000 in 2018, according to Coldwell Banker.

Jordan, who has an estimated net worth of almost $2 billion, moved into the Highland Park estate with his wife and three children in 1995, but said goodbye to the property after getting divorced in 2006. Compass’ Katherine Malkin, who has had the listing since 2012, declined to comment for this article.

Jordan doesn’t have history on his side. Lissner said the MLS shows just one detached, single-family home that sold for more than $14 million in the Chicago metropolitan area since 2007: a Lake Bluff home listed at $25 million that sold for $16 million. When expanding that search for homes sold above $7.5 million, only 26 popped up.

Other homes of similar sizes currently on the market vary in price. In Winnetka, a 27,000-square-foot home with six beds and 10 baths is listed at $9.5 million. It’s been on the market 175 days. A 30,000-square-foot, eight-bedroom, 14-bathroom Barrington home is listed at $18.88 million. It’s spent almost five years on the market.

(Credit: Zillow)

(Credit: Zillow)

When homes sit on the market unmoved, like the Jordan property, a stigma sometimes develops around them, even if unfounded. “[Buyers ask] ‘Why has it been on the market for so long? What’s wrong with it?’,” Bowers said.

Janet Borden of Coldwell Banker Homes suggested that at this point, the seller should be marketing to the brokerage community and looking to international buyers or targeted marketing towards sports enthusiasts using different social media and online tools.

It’s a strategy that’s not too far off one used in 2015. That year, The Agency, a Los Angeles-based real estate brokerage firm focused on selling celebrity home, tried its luck selling Jordan compound. It offered a pair of each version of Air Jordan sneakers with the house and switched the listing price so that the numbers, when added up, reflected Jordan’s now-retired Bulls jersey number: 23. The gimmicks didn’t take, and it continued to languish on the market.

Even with a unique property, the home must fit the local market, brokers said.

“It’s pretty normal to have a longer than average market time on something like that because there aren’t that many buyers in the world that can buy it,” said Borden, who has toured the home. “The hard part is after a long, long period of market time, really what they should be looking at is price.”

Lissner agreed. There is a buyer for every house — at the right price point, she said. What that price point is for Jordan’s home remains to be seen.

  • While the home sits empty, Jordan continue paying taxes on the property, owing more than $120,000 in taxes for 2019. As of 2018, staff remained employed to maintain the 30,000-square-foot house and seven acres of property, which includes an indoor tennis court, custom basketball court, movie theater, cigar room and poker room.
  • In 2018, the Lake County Assessor’s Office placed an assessed value of $1.61 million on the home, down from $2.66 million the year the home went on the market.
  • Other former Chicago professional athletes have struggled to sell their homes at asking price in recent years. Scottie Pippen, Jordan’s longtime teammate, off-loaded his 10,000-square-foot Highland Park home for $2.25 million in 2018, down from the 2016 initial listing price of $3.1 million.
  • Former Chicago Bears player Julius Peppers sold his Highland Park house in 2018 for $1 million. He originally listed the property in 2015 for $2.499 million.

Even without his Highland Park and Utah homes on the market, Jordan still has two properties where he can spend his time. He moved into his South Florida home after spending two years and $7.6 million dollars constructing a house on the three acres he bought for $4.8 million. The 28,000-square-foot, 11-bedroom house sits in the Bear’s Club community, an exclusive residential and golf club founded by golf great Jack Nicklaus. He also purchased a 12,000-square-foot, six-bedroom home in the Charlotte, North Carolina area in 2013 for $2.8 million. At that time, he had recently purchased the Charlotte Bobcats NBA team, now the Charlotte Hornets.


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