I was recently asked what my favorite properties have been among the hundreds I have sold over the course of my residential real estate sales career. It was an intriguing question, and I was still thinking about it as I put my kids to bed that night.

First, however, I had to ask myself, “Just how many homes have I sold?” Was it hundreds? Thousands? Just for kicks, I checked.

Since I received my real estate license in 1994, I have sold 792 properties including 589 “attached” properties (condos, coops, lofts, and townhomes) and 192 single-family homes. In 63% of my sales, I represented the seller, and the buyer was my client for the other 37%. There were a small number of sales where I was a dual agent representing both sides in the same transaction. My average sale price to date is $771,574 which is quite high considering that when I started my career in the 1990s, prices were considerably lower than in recent years. To date, I have sold $612 million worth of homes.

But which of these 792 had been my favorites? I had to sit down and scan the pages of homes sold, remembering each one as I read down the list. Looking at the properties, I recalled each of my past clients – the persons or families who had sold or bought these homes. As I started to narrow my list, I realized that my favorite homes were the ones that best reflected the spirit of their owners.

Here are some that rank high on my list.

Ultra Cool

2124 W. Grand

After just two years in the business, I had the opportunity to list 2124 W. Grand, a very unique property in Ukrainian Village which was at that time pretty gritty. A former automotive repair shop, this bland, industrial-looking 50 x 125 foot building had been transformed inside by architect Anthony Moss into a sleek, sun-filled 5,000+ square foot home with an attached 2,000 square foot 3-car garage. Featured in a Chicago Tribune Magazine story by Victoria Lautman, this cool, loft-like oasis included a 40-foot long industrial skylight, huge tropical plants, and a waterfall. My client was a prominent designer, and it fit with his clean, clutter-free aesthetic. It took me 298 days to sell (an eternity in that market), but it was so much fun. I loved seeing people’s reactions as they stepped inside.

A Home with a Soul

1724 N. Dayton

In 2004, I met a couple about my age over the Internet. They were relocating to Chicago from Mill Valley, California as a part of his career path at Citadel. We connected immediately, and I showed them everything that seemed to fit their criteria. They were looking for a sophisticated yet comfortable home that would be suitable for entertaining, for their two dogs, and for their hobbies which included woodworking (his), gardening (hers), and wine collecting (theirs). It quickly became clear that the only way to get exactly what they wanted was to build, and they were already enamored with the craftsmanship offered by one of the city’s top builders, Melrose Partners. We put the deal together and 18 months later, my clients moved into their dream home at 1724 N. Dayton (brochure).

I had the pleasure of attending several dinner parties in their home, and with each visit, it was exciting to see how they had made this home their own. Among other things, she had exquisite taste, cultivated beautiful gardens and was an extraordinary cook.

I was sad when they called one day to let me know they were moving to a ranch in Montana, but I was not surprised when their home sold quickly with multiple offers. This was not just a house; it was a home with a soul.

Pre-War Reinterpreted

Lakeview

I am a big fan of Chicago’s pre-war architecture. Many of the buildings constructed in the 1920s are exceptional. When I got a call to list an 8,000-square foot cooperative apartment at 2450 N. Lakeview, I was excited. With only eleven homes in that building and minimal turnover, it was a rare opportunity to step inside. My client and her late husband had engaged Chicago interior designers Marvin Herman and Bruce Gregga to complete a spare-no-expense renovation, and it was spectacular. The photos speak for themselves.

A Secret Garden

Garden home

Last year, I met a couple who were contemplating a move. We photographed their Lincoln Park home and prepared all the marketing materials in anticipation of listing in the immediate future. In the meantime, their plans changed, and they decided to build a new home – a process that would take a couple years. I sold them a large lot in the neighborhood and we deferred our plans to list until they finished constructing their new home. When the time comes, I know their home will go fast!

When I first arrived at this home, I stood before the heavy front gate. I could not see over the massive masonry wall, and I started to wonder what I was getting myself into. What I found on the other side of the wall was a complete surprise… it was a magical garden completely out of context for a city home. My clients love their outdoor space and it showed. Features included a child-proof fountain, a corner sandbox, and a romantic terrace for outdoor dining with a vine-covered pergola.

Perfection

1524 Astor

I am one of the listing agents for 1524 N. Astor (brochure), an exquisite Gold Coast single-family home offering unobstructed east views of historic Astor Street, and north views of the Cardinal’s mansion and Lincoln Park. This Art Deco-inspired residence is currently on the market for $9,995,000. Built for an empty nester couple, this is the most finely finished home I have seen ever. Every detail is perfect. Highlights include elegant metalwork, state-of-the-art Smart wiring, luxurious fabrics, antique and imported lighting, three outdoor venues, and a one-of-a-kind natural stone countertop on the kitchen island that is filled with large natural fossils.


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Comments

  • Jenny

    What about the Playboy Mansion?!

  • Wow! Great memory! Yes, in 1999 I sold 1336 N. State Parkway, the south wing of the French style James Gamble Rogers designed mansion once owned by celebrity Hugh Heffner of Playboy Magazine fame.

    Mr. Hefner had divided the mansion into two parts. The main building (1340 N. State) was sold to a developer who converted it to seven luxury Gold Coast condominiums. The “south wing” was donated to the Art Institute of Chicago, who sold it to my clients.

    At the time I listed the home for sale, it included incredible original architectural details like plaster moldings and mahogany paneling, as well as a finished basement with an operational bowling alley and décor dating back to the 1960s – a remnant of the Hefner party days. The only thing that was missing was Hefner’s famous Playboy bunnies!

  • Jenny

    Do you remember the rowhouse you sold in (I think) 1999 – I believe it was the one with the summer/winter garden photos. You had people trying to make offers before it went on the market, then at the Tuesday Open House one agent and her client kept outbidding all offers by $1000 until it was theirs? I am sure you could tell this story better, and even remember the address. 🙂