The “Wright” Price for a Frank Lloyd Wright Home

by Natalie Terchek

frank-lloyd-wright-home

The F.B. Henderson Home in Elmhurst, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, has been on the market since September of 2007.

Famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, designed over 100 homes located in the Chicagoland area, and they’re well-known for their historical significance and character. However, even though the homes are admired throughout the area, sellers who have rehabbed those homes are seeing that it is very difficult to sell some of them.

Why a Wright home is Difficult to Sell

The trademark characteristics of a Wright home include features that make it “integrate into nature,” according to Dennis Rodkin, writer of the “Deal Estate” column in Chicago magazine, during a televised interview on WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight”. There is a lot of wood, horizontality that brings the house down and a high level of craft (such as unusual lighting or carvings). While makes the homes unique, it also makes it very difficult to add renovations, such as air conditioning.

Other qualities that make a Wright home difficult to sell include the small kitchens, narrow doorways and built-in furniture (which limits decor options). A few of the homes lack basements, which limits storage space.

Some of the Wright homes have been granted landmark status, which means making repairs or building additions will require a complicated approval process, and some people just don’t believe it’s worth the effort. Rodkin adds that even after a developer spends the time and money renovating the house, at the end of the day, the price is mainly based off the square footage and size lot, just like a conventional home.

“We price (Wright’s designs) as art, but they sell as houses,” said Laura Talaske, a Realtor with Better Homes and Gardens Gloor Realty, in Rodkin’s article in Chicago magazine.

Wright’s F.B. Henderson House, located in Elmhurst, was on the market in September of 2007 listed at $2 million. It was off the market for a couple of years, and returned in August of 2012, listed at $1.4 million. One year later, it is still on the market and the price has dropped to $1.3 million.

“There’s a school of thought that says that a Frank Lloyd Wright house that is in excellent condition will sell at about 40 percent above a conventional house,” Rodkin said on “Chicago Tonight.” “But the problem is, what we’re finding now, is that doesn’t seem to hold true.”

What Will the Future Bring?

As another Wright home hits the market for $700,000 (the Stephen M.B. Hunt House in LaGrange, according to The Huffington Post), it will be interesting to see if it will have the same issues as some of the other homes. Fortunately, even though it is growing at a slow pace, the Chicago housing market is improving, which means the homes will have a better chance of selling.

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