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By, Andrew Shroedter
(Crain's) — The two most expensive home sales in Lake Forest last year had more in common than multimillion-dollar prices.
The transaction also were short sales, meaning the lenders approved the sale of the homes for less than the sellers owed, a sign that even affluent suburbs aren't immune to the punishing economic downturn.
In the latest transaction, the historic Noble Judah house at 111 W. Westminster Road in the north suburb sold in late December for just under $4.8 million, according to property records.
The sale was the second-priciest transaction of 2010 in Lake Forest, topped only by another short sale: The Georgian-style mansion at 620 Lake Road, once owned by former dot-com investor William Lederer, sold in April for $5.2-million.
Before the economy crashed, the massive homes on Westminster and Lake roads would've sold for upward of $7 million, observers say.
But prices in the suburb have fallen, leading more underwater homeowners to consider a short sale, says Pat Purcell, a sales agent in the Lake Forest East office of Koenig & Strey Real Living, who wasn't involved in either property.
“People are getting tired of holding onto these homes,” he says.
Gerald and Gail Miller paid just under $3.4 million in October 1999 for the 13,000-square-foot mansion on Westminster Road, according to property records. It couldn't be determined how much the couple owed on the home, but people familiar with the transaction confirmed it was a short sale.
The Millers listed the French Normandy-style mansion for $5.9 million in July, a year after J. P. Morgan Chase & Co. filed a foreclosure complaint against the couple to collect a loan originally issued in October 2005 for $4.6-million loan.
Mr. and Mrs. Miller didn't return a message. Their listing agent, Marina Vernon, of Lake Forest-based brokerage Griffith Grant & Lackie, declines to comment.
The massive residence, which sits on three-acres just west of Green Bay Road, was created by well-known architect Philip Lippincott Goodwin, best known as the designer of New York City's Museum of Modern Art.
Completed in 1928, the mansion has six bedrooms, nine full bathrooms, an indoor swimming pool and a grass tennis court. Named for its original owner, Noble Judah, a prominent lawyer and Illinois state representative, the property was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.
The buyer was a trust whose beneficiaries couldn't be identified.
In the case of Mr. Lederer, Schaumburg-based American Chartered Bank filed a foreclosure lawsuit against him in July 2009 to collect on a loan for more than $6-million on the Lake Road property.
Less than a year later, the mansion, with seven bedrooms and six bathrooms, sold for $5.2 million, about 13% less than the loan amount.
Mr. Lederer, who is best known for selling the Web site Art.com to Getty Images Inc. in 1999 for $115 million, didn't return a message.
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