George Furbeck listed

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peterm
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Post by peterm »

So many Americans are now driven by fear, rather than adventure and curiosity. When one reads about the sacrifices original owners made in order to live in a Wright house, it is astonishing to see a masterwork like La Miniatura languish on the market year after year. I agree, outside in, that it doesn't bode well. A balloon dog by Jeff Koons can fetch over 58 million, and people are afraid to invest in a Wright house? http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-1 ... rtist.html

The popular misconceptions about Wright houses have been addressed here many times, but maybe they beg repeating. Too small, not enough storage, ceilings too low, impossible to maintain, roofs that leak, no place to hang your art, no garage to store your crap, no attic to store more crap, no basement to store even more.. The list goes on and on. When one reads this stuff in magazine articles written by unknowledgable cynical writers, it comes as no surprise that buyers would be leery of investing in such a thing.

It ultimately comes down to education, and not falling prey to fear and the propaganda of trend and style.

DRN
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Post by DRN »

I was hoping against hope the low sale price would make proper restoration of the house (reopening/resizing the front porch, removal of a third floor rear carbuncle, interior color analysis and restoration) economically feasible for a new owner. Is $650K more of a lot price than a house and lot price in Oak Park?

The FLWBC encouraged some of us to speak with a reporter from the Wall Street Journal last year in the hopes of telling the story that Wright houses are attainable, livable, and enjoyable. Unfortunately, the reporter seemed to have her own preconceived notion of what she wanted to write and was looking for "quotable quotes" and more importantly, sales prices and restoration costs, to flesh it out...her thesis was the houses are leaky money pits, sold at bloated premiums, to starry eyed rubes. No matter what I said about the positives, or that owning a Wright house is comparable to what is faced by any homeowner restoring, rehabilitating, or maintaining an old house seemed to sway her.

These articles do influence perceptions of the general public. I've met a lot of people through the ownership of my house. The most common misconceptions that I am asked about are that I need to get approval from the government to do anything to the house, and that the house must be cold, leaky, and too small....3 of 4 are untrue, and the leaks I experienced were due to contractor/installer error and excessively deferred maintenance by a previous owner. I try to set the record straight when given the chance.

Oak Park Jogger
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Post by Oak Park Jogger »

$650,000 would buy a very nice house in Oak Park. While houses are for sale for more (even much more!) people seem to be pretty pragmatic about what updating a kitchen and bathrooms would run, and reluctant to go too far above the cost of other homes in the neighborhood--even for Wright homes. There are certainly people in town who have spent that amount and THEN done big restorations-kitchen, baths, central air, plaster repair, etc. Let's hope that the buyer of this home is in that category!

outside in
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Post by outside in »

I can understand the pragmatism that goes with buying and remodeling a house, but the "realistic" price of 650K in Oak Park is inconsistent with the belief held by some that a FLW house carries an inherent 25% premium in value. Remember, this house first went on the market for 1.1M, then 975K and ended up a 650K, or 59% of the original price.

Maybe owners (sellers) of the homes view them as being worth more than their true value, but its becoming increasing clear to me (based on sales records) that they have absolutely no exceptional, inherent financial value, and that they are more difficult to sell because of their negative reputation. Real Estate varies with market demands, and I'm afraid this does not bode well for current owners as it will become increasingly difficult to justify restoration costs.

peterm
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Post by peterm »

The square footage price comes to 165.00 a square foot.

What is the average price per square foot for Oak Park?

PrairieMod
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Post by PrairieMod »

According to Zillow:

"The median home value in Oak Park is $323,100. Oak Park home values have gone up 9.2% over the past year and Zillow predicts they will rise 1.8% within the next year. The median list price per square foot in Oak Park is $211, which is higher than the Chicago Metro average of $118. The median price of homes currently listed in Oak Park is $244,000 while the median price of homes that sold is $326,750. The median rent price in Oak Park is $1,350, which is lower than the Chicago Metro median of $1,500."

http://www.zillow.com/oak-park-il/home-values/

pharding
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Post by pharding »

outside in wrote:I can understand the pragmatism that goes with buying and remodeling a house, but the "realistic" price of 650K in Oak Park is inconsistent with the belief held by some that a FLW house carries an inherent 25% premium in value. Remember, this house first went on the market for 1.1M, then 975K and ended up a 650K, or 59% of the original price.

Maybe owners (sellers) of the homes view them as being worth more than their true value, but its becoming increasing clear to me (based on sales records) that they have absolutely no exceptional, inherent financial value, and that they are more difficult to sell because of their negative reputation. Real Estate varies with market demands, and I'm afraid this does not bode well for current owners as it will become increasingly difficult to justify restoration costs.
The market for any type of residential property, including FLW houses, is subject to market fluctuations. All residential properties have seen the values decrease in the recent past. Plus salaries and hiring is relatively stagnant as the economy slowly recovers. FLW houses are in a temporary slump IMO and they will recover as the housing market recovers. I personally believe that in the Oak Park and River Forest area that the premium is more like 20% percent. However that is on top of a reduced residential market. IMO too many Wright properties are put on the market with an incredibly optimistic number. Furbeck is a prime example.

As the owner, along with my wife, of a Frank Lloyd Wright House, these houses are a joy to live in and they are so much better than their generic peers. Whatever the true premium for a FLW House, it is well worth it.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

peterm
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Post by peterm »

Imagine if one could pick up a Mondrian for 25% more than a paint-by-number!

DRN
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Post by DRN »

....or a Jackson Pollock for 25% more than a used drop cloth.
(and that from a fan of both Mondrian AND Pollock! and Grant Wood and Edward Hopper and Matisse and....)

outside in
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Post by outside in »

I think the list could be extended to include the recent sale of the Coonley II (originally listed at 1.1M, sold at 354K). The other issue is the length of time both Millards, Coonley I and many others sit on the market. My take on it all is that the values of Wright homes have plummeted at a greater amount than the national average during this housing crisis. Sellers find it difficult to be realistic about asking prices, especially after repeatedly receiving compliments about their house.

Its a new world - one in which house values are not necessarily tied to aesthetics, where owners have to look in the mirror and feel comfortable with their investment primarily because they have a desire to live in this manner. A world that does not necessarily provide financial backup for one's decisions. I have a feeling that many of what were once considered "truths" regarding FLW homes has changed. The next few years will be interesting.

DRN
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Post by DRN »

The housing market crash may have awoken the public to the fact that real estate prices don't always rise, and probably shouldn't rise at rates that greatly exceed the rate of inflation. House restorations are in way similar to classic car restoration, in that the person who foots the bill for the restoration will rarely see a monetary profit on the investment, at least in the short term...they do it because they want to, or believe it must be done.

That said, I believe a good house in a good location in good condition will always find a buyer provided it is priced realistically. A historically significant house or a house with an architectural pedigree will only command a premium from a buyer who sees the benefit or value of such a house, AND if the buyer likes the house. I suspect Wright houses that sit on the market for excessive periods have one of the following issues hindering them:

House is in a remote location...meaning many potential buyers can't justify the logistics of absentee ownership, or can't relocate lives to the remote location.

Price asked far exceeds the value to the potential buyer based on condition, size, appearance, or location....."you want $1.1M for that?"

Design may not appeal to all potential Wright buyers....buyer may say "If I buy a Wright house, I want it to look like...."

The site, surroundings, or building itself may have changed drastically or have been awkwardly subdivided from the original condition.

On top of all of this, I believe education of the general public (some of whom may become potential buyers) is key: Wright houses are significant pieces of history that are rewarding and enjoyable to live in and with, and are worth carrying forward to the next generation; restored Wright houses are no more effort and trouble to maintain than any other pre-1930 house of similar size being kept in its original guise; Wright myths must be put down whenever possible and the record set straight, fear breeds fear, and fear kills home sales, especially when buyers are uncertain of their financial future.

outside in
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Post by outside in »

After working on many of these homes for a long time, I've come to the conclusion that some of the fears regarding the ownership of these homes is justified. I have found that State Historic Preservation Officers are "extra" picky about improvements, primarily because its a Wright House. Their preconceived notions of proper techniques for rehab/restoration are sometimes inconsistent and more rigorous than standards held for other historic homes. Secondly, Wright really was notorious for undersizing structural components such as roof overhangs and foundation supports, and its not incorrect to state that flat roofs often leak more than pitched roofs. Finally, fixing these buildings usually DOES cost more, due to the sometimes unusual way in which they were designed and constructed.

That being said, its well worth the sacrifice, isn't it? My concern is that there are a dwindling number of people that are up for the task.

egads
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Post by egads »

The main factor is lending. There are not very many people who can buy a house without a loan. A lender is not going to lend more than 80% of what comparable houses in the neighborhood sell for. When Joel Silver bought Storer he was quoted as saying something like: "architecture is the only art you can buy for comps" One can only hope that significant houses are not bought and stripped of original items that can be sold in the art market instead of the real estate one. Sure it may be crazy to buy such a house and spend more than you will ever get back on restoration. But folks spend more than they should on their houses all the time. Think how many of Wright's clients spent way more than they intended.

peterm
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Post by peterm »

Another factor to consider is fashion. Throughout the nineties, craftsman era architecture and design were red hot, from Barbara Streisand's Stickley to the yuppies whose house was in a constant state of renovation (Home Depot begins to appear in our consciousness...) on the tv show Thirty Something. Things started to shift at the millennium where mid century began to become the rage. (And, of course, who can forget the late eighties and Santa Fe Style?)

Could it be that Usonians are doing better than Prairie Style in this particular Mad Men market? I haven't followed recent prices.

I think American Hustle has marked the real acceptance of seventies style for the masses. Maybe craftsman and mid century are both on their way out in favor of chrome, brass, mirrors, glass and post psychedelic pattern...

Never underestimate the power of advertising and mass media on the habits of American consumers!

pharding
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Post by pharding »

The tide goes in and the tide goes out. FLW Houses at any price are spectacular to live in.

My daughter and her husband are looking at houses in St. Charles, Illinois. Houses out there have really taken a hit so FLW Houses aren't the only houses suffering.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

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