Lake Forest launches campaign to attract homebuyers – Consumer News

on Oct5

5 October 2017 | 10:30 am

In Lake Forest, whose real estate market has been among the slowest on the North Shore for a couple of years now, officials have rolled out an image campaign designed to attract potential homebuyers.

“We know that home sales are an indicator of the well-being of our community,” said Prue Beidler, a Lake Forest alderman who is helping lead the “Welcome Home” campaign. It includes videos on the city’s website and ads in publications including Crain’s and Sheridan Road magazine and will later include a social media component, Beidler said.

The ads and videos say “Hey, take another look at Lake Forest. It may not be what you think it is,” Beidler said. One video showcases runners and bicyclists in their 30s and 40s talking about the town’s fitness groups and open spaces for recreation. “The sweet spot for us is the people leaving the city with two kids looking for good schools and quality of life,” Beidler said.

The campaign will spend about $100,000 over three years, Beidler said. It includes slogans like “Europe: It’s 30 miles north of Chicago” and “Safety has found a home here.” Deborah Fischer, a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff Realty Group agent who is part of the effort, said “we can surprise people with a few things they didn’t know.”

Among them: Property taxes are lower in Lake Forest than anywhere on the North Shore, and the U.S. Census reports a shorter average commute time for Lake Foresters than for people in Winnetka, which is about 14 miles closer to Chicago. Express trains and commutes to Lake County job hubs such as Abbott Labs may account for much of the difference.

At the end of August, enough homes were on the market in Lake Forest to fuel almost 12 months of sales, according to the latest report available from Midwest Real Estate Data. While that was a reduction in inventory from a year earlier, when there was 15 months’ inventory on the market, it was considerably higher than any other community on the North Shore. Next-highest was Glencoe, with 8.5 months’ inventory; lowest was Wilmette, with 4.6.

In Lake Forest, homes sold through the end of August had an average market time of 243 days, according to MRED, up from 219 a year earlier. Among lakefront North Shore towns, next-slowest is Kenilworth, with an average market time of 232 days, a big drop from 299 days a year ago.

Crain’s reported last year that Lake Forest mansions are often perceived as “too big, too old, priced way too high.” Beidler and Fischer said a few new developments in town, including a condo project in the heart of the downtown area where sales have been swift, may counter that impression. “We have a diversity of housing, and it’s getting more diverse,” Fischer said.

While the town’s marquee homes are multimillion-dollar mansions, the median price of a home bought in Lake Forest this year is $780,000, up 4.7 percent from $745,000 through the end of August last year.

Beidler, who has lived in the community for more than three decades since marrying a local, said she understands the hesitance of the current generation of young families to buy in Lake Forest. “They don’t want to sit on a John Deere mowing that great big lawn for hours,” she said, and they don’t want an ornate historical home that demands a lot of maintenance.

A home on Onwentsia sold last week for $6.4 million, the highest price paid in Lake Forest in a dozen years. Built in 2009, it doesn’t come with the headaches of an older vintage home.

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