Here’s what’s behind November’s mini-rush of luxury home sales

Six homes have sold in the ultra luxury sector this month, despite an overall slowdown in the market

When broker Ryan Preuett listed a house in the Sheffield Neighbors area in September, he had no doubt the property would trade despite its $4.2 million ask amid a slowing real estate market both nationally and in Chicago, where the high-end segment also dipped in 2023.

The sale of the 5,500-square-foot, six-bedroom home at 2040 North Clifton Avenue in Chicago closed earlier this month for $4 million.

It’s one of several in the $4 million-and-up range — the standard delineation point for Chicagoland’s upper luxury market — to sell in recent weeks in the face of a sluggish housing market.

Preuett, an agent with Jameson Sotheby’s International Real Estate, said the property benefited from potential buyers increasingly narrowing in on the highest quality of properties.

“When something is the nicest in its respective category, there is usually a buyer,” he said.

To sustain through the toughening market, Preuett is upping his focus on snagging clients who need to move versus those that want to, by approaching people nearing job relocations, marriage, divorce, empty nests and pregnancy.

The Sheffield Neighbors home was on the market for a month as a result, with the listing opening in September and coming under contract in October before a November close.

Other homes that recently sold in the ultra-luxury category were substantially different types of listings, and the recent rush of high-end sales may not line up with exactly where the broader Chicagoland housing market is going.

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Across the market as a whole, inventory and home sales fell again in October, and prices have continued to increase, according to data released Tuesday by Illinois Realtors. In the Chicago metropolitan area, a total of 7,118 homes sold last month, down 8.3 percent from October 2022 sales, when there were 7,764 home trades. Experts working with Illinois Realtors expect challenging market conditions to extend through the end of the year.

“Our forecasts indicate that these trends will continue over the next three months throughout the state,” said Daniel McMillen, professor of real estate and associate dean for faculty affairs at the University of Illinois Chicago College of Business Administration.

Still, overall prices haven’t started to come down despite surging interest rates and declining deal volume, as Illinois’ median sale price last month of $265,000 was 7.1 percent higher than it was a year prior.

However, Chicago’s luxury market is somewhat of an outlier, since market forces that limit purchasing power for an average buyer, such as increasing interest rates, are less impactful given high-end buyers often purchase in cash.

Still, Chicago’s luxury market has lower pricing limits than other major cities, like New York, Miami and Los Angeles. Of the six Chicago-area homes that sold so far in November over $4 million, all but one — a new construction property in Lincoln Park — took cuts from their listing prices to get to a sale.

One property, a 15,000-square-foot home at 222 West Van Buren Avenue in Naperville, sold after being on and off the market since 2021. It was originally listed at $15 million before selling for $8 million at a luxury auction in October. Despite the big price chop, it still set a DuPage County record for the priciest home ever sold in the area.

Another home, at 1421 Lake Road in Lake Forest, sold for nearly $7.8 million this month, in the second-priciest deal in the northern suburb in at least five years. Originally listed at $7.9 million in September, the much smaller 1 percent price cut shows that some homes are selling more quickly than others.

And, as Preuett noted, those that are trading are at the extremely high end of the housing stock as multiple other luxury Lake Forest listings have been marketed for months without drawing deals.

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