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Ultra high-end homes remain niche market in McHenry County

Published: Friday, Jan. 31, 2014 7:07 p.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 8:11 a.m. CDT
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(Kyle Grillot – kgrillot@shawmedia.com)
Premier Living Properties broker Tamara O’Connor shows the view from the family room inside a Woodstock home on the market for $5.95 million. The 20,000-square-foot home on nearly 20 acres has amenities such as multiple kitchens, two elevators, two servants' suites, launderette, nine full and three half bathrooms, seven bedrooms, home theater, spa, and an outdoor pool with a rock waterfall and cabana. It also has an art gallery, banquet room, bar, and library.
Caption
(Kyle Grillot – kgrillot@shawmedia.com)
The view from the foyer balcony inside a Woodstock home listed for $5.95 million.
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(Kyle Grillot – kgrillot@shawmedia.com)
A detail from a dining room inside a Woodstock residence listed for $5.95 million.
Caption
(Kyle Grillot – kgrillot@shawmedia.com)
The entrance to a $5.95 million Woodstock estate. The 20,000-square-foot home is on nearly 20 acres. It has amenities such as multiple kitchens, two elevators, two servants' suites, a launderette, nine full and three half bathrooms, seven bedrooms, a home theater, an in-home spa and an outdoor pool.
Caption
(Kyle Grillot – kgrillot@shawmedia.com)
The main kitchen.
Caption
(Kyle Grillot – kgrillot@shawmedia.com)
The theater room a Woodstock home listed for $5.95 million.

Property values in McHenry County might not be rising as swiftly as in some areas of the country, but the long pendulum swing from buyers’ to sellers’ market continues to arc in sellers’ favor, area real estate experts said.

In fact, a general shortage of inventory means that properly staged, appropriately priced, median-value homes are selling lickety-split, said Don Prigge, a managing broker with Baird & Warner in Crystal Lake. 

Should you possess a luxury home, however, be prepared for a longer wait, although that market, too – even with its relative few qualified buyers – appears to be trending toward faster turnaround. 

Sales of homes priced at $1 million plus are up in the seven-county metropolitan Chicago market, even as the median sales price held steady, according to a recent RE/MAX report.

Sales of such homes in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties numbered 2,038 in 2013, with Chicago seeing a total luxury sales increase of 26 percent. 

While homes at or above $1 million typically are considered “luxury” market homes among real estate brokers, more bang for the luxury buck can be had in McHenry County. Searching homes priced at $750,000 or more, Midwest Real Estate Data showed that 12 McHenry County homes had sold in 2013 at prices ranging from $755,000 to $1.36 million. Their average days on the market was 152. 

In 2012, seven houses priced at more than $750,000 sold, ranging from $770,000 to a Barrington Hills residence that sold for $7.5 million. Their average days on the market was far higher, at 537.

The glut of all home inventory brought on by a plethora of foreclosures in the mid to late 2000s is indeed history, according to area real estate experts and data.

That’s good news for most homeowners looking to sell. The bad news is values are not rising locally on a par with many other rebounding areas that have been making the news, such as San Francisco, San Diego, Naples, Fla., Las Vegas and many areas of Arizona.

“We are experiencing more in the flat to less than 5 percent appreciation year over year,” Prigge said. “But if we get a listing in the Crystal Lake or McHenry County area that is priced according to the market for today, not in the luxury range but in the more normal range, say $250,000 to $300,000, we’re seeing a tremendous amount of activity. … I’d be surprised if it took more than 30 days. And in many cases, we’re seeing multiple offers, which we hadn’t seen in years.”  

But imagine you wish to sell a 20,000-square-foot home on nearly 20 wooded, rolling acres. It’s an estate with four kitchens, two elevators, two servants’ suites, a launderette, nine full and three half bathrooms, seven bedrooms, a home theater, in-home spa and a resort-like outdoor pool with a cabana and rock waterfall. It also has an art gallery, banquet room, bar and library. This home, listed at $5.95 million (down from $6.75 million), is nestled among the trees off Dunham Road near Menge Road in Hartland Township.

The home is listed with Premier Living Properties, and certified luxury home marketing specialist Tamara O’Connor recently provided a tour as she talked about the effort it takes to sell such a property.

The owner and her husband, who ran a plumbing school in Chicago, scouted properties for 10 years before buying the land and spent two years building the three-level house, O’Connor said. In the about six months it has had the listing, Premier Living Properties has spent more than $15,000 marketing it, with six showings to qualified buyers, she said.

“What’s exciting is that in 2012, two of the highest sales in McHenry County occurred, one at $7.5 million and one at just under $2.5 million,” O’Connor said. “But rural properties take longer in any market. You’ve got to find the right person.”

In a rural area, open land remains, and along with it the ability to build one’s own dream estate rather than buying someone else’s. 

“Properties like this take several years to build, though,” O’Connor said. “Not everyone wants to do that.”

Along with extensive marketing – such as in glossy national publications like “Unique Homes,” professional photography and highly detailed websites (see www.19802dunham.com, for example) – selling a high-end property may require a global approach, and even an eye on a non-residential demographic. 

“We’re marketing the property on Dunham nationally and internationally,” O’Connor said. “It lends itself to other things besides a residence, as well. It could be a corporate retreat.”

O’Connor is prepared to work hard and to have patience, she said. 

“There have been only eight sales of over $1 million in the last 24 months in all of McHenry County, and that’s just normal – even in the heyday,” she said. “You have to remember that McHenry County’s average price is in the $200,000s. Property values of over $1 million are not the norm.”

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