Nine-foot ceilings, five
bedrooms, Wauconda schools and luxury master baths are among the goodies to lure
would-be home buyers to the western edge of Lake County.
While those perks individually might sway some, a hard-to-resist bottom line
has been the attraction in Lakemoor, Volo and other towns that used to be dots
on the map but have since been discovered.
In the price range of $250,000 to $300,000, for example, buyers in west and
northwestern Lake and eastern McHenry County have a wider selection of bigger
and newer homes than what's available in more- established communities.
Vaqar and Linda Sheriff moved from Island Lake about two years ago to the
fourth home on the block at the Pines of Lakemoor.
"We were looking for a bigger house. We had twins. They were growing fast. We
had three bedrooms, now we have four," says Vaqar, who manages a retail store in
They toured homes on
the Internet and looked in several communities before deciding on Lakemoor.
"These were bigger. Everything is going to be new," Vaqar said.
Purchased at a pre-construction price of about $240,000, the value already
has increased substantially. The same model across the street is selling for
The word has spread. The population of Lakemoor is expected to increase
nearly tenfold, and Volo will spike to more than 76 times the number of current
residents within 25 years. That would mean that about 23,000 and 14,000 people,
respectively, would call those towns home.
Granted, the percentage jumps are exaggerated because the base numbers are
small. But the impact is undeniable.
"This is the natural progression of how growth and sprawl is going. Once it
gets past there, it'll keep going to Rockford," says Elizabeth Drozdik, director
of market research for Strategy Planning Associates Inc., a Schaumburg firm that
analyzes housing trends.
"Western Lake County is just starting to really boom and there's no reason
it's going to stop anytime soon."
Like growth rings on a tree, suburban expansion has been rippling from the
metropolitan area since the 1950s, when interstate highways made the hinterlands
Distance makes for a longer commute, and the resulting traffic jams have been
a target of "smart growth" advocates. But with lower land costs on the
outskirts, builders, for a time, are able to deliver more house for the money.
"There really is no place to go but out," says David Fiorovante, who with
wife, Kathleen, paid about $170,000 for a corner-lot townhouse four years ago in
Lakemoor Farms, north of Route 120.
Over the years, the couple hopscotched from Chicago to Wauconda to Island
Lake, where they lived 11 years.
"Instead of putting in a new roof and water heater at the old place, we said
let's get a new place," says Fiorovante, a truck driver who works in Elk Grove
Village. "It was getting into a better house (and) the price was right."
Buyers have been filling the instant neighborhoods, trading the lack of
mature landscaping and entertainment options for a bigger and newer home than
they could afford in established communities.
For example, one colonial-style home in Lakemoor has four bedrooms, 2¨ baths,
attached two-car garage, den, fireplace and other amenities. Its list price is
In Libertyville, $279,900 gets you a 42-year-old split-level frame home with
a two-car detached garage. It also has four bedrooms, but the master is 154
square feet compared with 272 square feet for the home in Lakemoor.
One seller in Lake Zurich is asking $280,000 for a 16-year old, frame raised
ranch with an attached two-car garage, and four bedrooms.
"It comes down to the old adage: the farther you move out, the more home you
get for your money," said Charlie Bagg, a broker for Re/Max of Barrington, who
listed the Lakemoor home.
More land equates to more homes and lower prices, he said.
Libertyville doesn't have room for large new subdivisions. And because of its
desirable location near the tollway and other major routes, quaint downtown and
mature neighborhoods, areas that do pop up are expensive.
The asking price for 2-acre lots on Sunnyside Avenue, for example, on land
that had been zoned for homes since the 1920s but not developed, is $275,000.
Homes built on those lots are expected to run $800,000 or more.
Anti-sprawl groups, such as the
, say more home for the money may be good for families, but bad
for the region.
"The most affordable housing in the region seems to be the farthest away from
where the jobs are," said
, housing director for
the Chicago-based group of civic and business leaders.