Sue Fox, @Properties. Direct 773.816.1788
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I was up in Wilmette this weekend, a lovely town that’s always been close to my heart (as my grandparents raised eight children there in the 1940s and 50s, including my mom). While Wilmette is full of charming 100-year-old houses and mid-century ranches, it is also possessed of the wonderful New Trier school district, which makes it a magnet for today’s young families (who generally have fewer than eight children.)
One of my clients, a couple with two small children, has lived in Chicago for years but is now contemplating a move to Wilmette. Over the past couple weeks, we’ve looked at a dozen 3 or 4-bedroom houses in the $600,000 range, and there are quite a few attractive historic homes for sale that have been updated inside. Many of these houses were selling in the $700,000 to $800,000 range just three years ago, so this market is a great opportunity for buyers who want to get into the New Trier district.
I would say that these homes compare favorably to similar Chicago houses in the same price range (in Edgewater, Lincoln Square, North Center etc.). The Wilmette homes are in quieter neighborhoods, for the most part, and the school district is far better. And many of these homes are well-tended properties, often owned by the same family for 20 or 30 years, in great condition.
Still, the floor plans may feel a little cramped. The downstairs level generally offers the formal living room, dining room and kitchen layout that was popular 100 years ago. These kitchens seem very small to today’s buyers, who tend to prefer a more open layout with fewer walls dividing the rooms.
And in many Wilmette houses in this price range, the upstairs can also feel a tad crowded. Most homes of this vintage were built with only one bathroom upstairs, so unless the homeowner has expanded, the whole family could end up sharing a bathroom in the morning. I’m sure my grandparents wouldn’t have minded, but many people today want a master bath, down the hall from the kids.
But the lot sizes here feel huge by Chicago standards (several of the ones we visited were 50×150 feet, more than twice the standard lot size in the city.) Big backyards, two-car garages with basketball hoops, quiet leafy streets, kids on bicycles… no wonder so many people eventually pack up and move to the suburbs!
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