Meeting in the middle

What kind of house can you get around here for the median sale price?

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By Lacey Sikora

Contributing Reporter

What you get with your real estate dollar depends on where you are doing your shopping. In Oak Park and River Forest and their immediate neighbors, the median price of homes varies widely, as does the housing stock, the square footage and the property tax bill that goes along with that sales price. 

According to real estate website Trulia, the median sales price in Oak Park and River Forest declined for the period of May 1 through July 31, 2019, while neighboring villages have fared somewhat better.

In Oak Park, the median sales price based on 193 sales between May 1 and July 31 of this year was $340,000 -- a 12 percent drop over the same period in 2018. 

A look at local listings shows a number of homes for sale in that price point. At $335,000, 1026 S. Austin Blvd. provides four bedrooms, one bathroom and 1,428 square feet of living space with $9,639 in property taxes. The Victorian style home features a welcoming front porch. 

On the north side of town, 1100 N. Humphrey Ave. is a side-entrance Colonial home on a corner lot. The home is listed at $339,500 and offers three bedrooms, two bathrooms, 2,000 square feet and has property taxes of $13,815.

Meanwhile, 839 N. Lombard Ave. is listed right at the median sales price of $340,000, and listing agent Cory Kohut of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services says you're getting a lot for your money with that price. 

"You have three levels of living, which is rare at that median or entry-level price," Kohut said. "A lot of our older housing stock has second floors that don't have full ceiling heights, but unlike most bungalows, this house has proper ceiling heights on the second floor."

Other pluses at this price range? Kohut points out the first-floor powder room and rec room. The house at 839 N. Lombard Ave. has three bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms, 1,862 square feet of living space and a property tax bill of $11,923.

The median price of a home in River Forest also fell this year, with the period of May 1 through July 31 recording 50 sales with a median price of $547,500, down 7 percent compared to the same period in 2018. 

While the River Forest median price is roughly $200,000 higher than Oak Park, median-priced homes in the villages have comparable tax bills.

The home at 303 Gale Ave. was first listed for $549,900 with a recent price drop to $525,000. The home offers three bedrooms, two bathrooms and 2,150 square feet of living space, with a property tax bill of $14,657 and includes an updated kitchen and rec room in the basement. 

Also located in the neighborhood just north of Madison Street, 29 Thatcher Ave. is listed at $579,000. For that price you get three bedrooms, three bathrooms, 2,062 square feet and a property tax bill of $12,971. The house has a newer kitchen and hardwood flooring. 

A few blocks away, 210 Franklin Ave. is offered at $579,000. The English cottage-style house was rehabbed in 2009 and boasts a professionally landscaped yard, 2,109 square feet, three bedrooms, two bathrooms and property taxes of $9,523.

In Berwyn, the sales period from May 1 to July 31 was flat in regard to median-priced homes, with 121 sales resulting in a median price of $230,000, the same median price recorded for that period in 2018. 

The square footage of a home in Berwyn's median price range is lower than in neighboring Oak Park and so are the property taxes.

Owners of the residence at 1543 Home Ave. recently asked $229,000 for 1,200 square feet and four bedrooms and two bathrooms. The home has property taxes of $4,244. Meanwhile, 3647 Ridgeland Ave. is listed for $234,999 and provides 1,260 square feet, including four bedrooms and two bathrooms. The brick Cape Cod has property taxes of $2,636.

Forest Park was the big winner, price-wise, registering a 40-percent increase in median sales price year over year during the period of May 1to July 31. The village recorded 68 sales during that period in 2019. 

Gut-rehabbed in 2013, the house at 932 Circle Ave. is listed for $275,000. For that price, you get granite counters, three bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms, 1,008 square feet of living space and a property tax bill of $5,409. 

At $240,000 1512 Elgin Ave. offers a large lot, four bedrooms, one bathroom and 1,337 square feet of living space with property taxes of $7,671.

While the adage that all real estate is local holds true, Kohut says that he sees what is happening in Oak Park as part of a wider trend. Asked about the lower median price compared to 2018, Kohut says it's not just a micro-trend and that the falling median sales prices are not unique to Oak Park. 

"It's a general trend," he said. "The country is starting to see a pull back."  

Kohut also noted that the average days on market are increasing throughout the area, and says that Oak Park homes priced at or near the median during the summer period are taking longer to sell than last year. 

"It's just slower now," Kohut said.

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