Jennifer Hudson and luxe Chicago real estate

(Tribune file photo )
November 30, 2011|By Georgia Garvey, RedEye

It turns out even celebrities aren't immune from the real estate downturn – if they're selling, that is – and they, like anyone else, can benefit from falling home prices, too.

Recent Chicago Magazine reports show Oscar-winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson, a South Side native, has contracted to buy a Burr Ridge house in west suburban Burr Ridge for $2.795 million – a hefty discount from the original $4.2 million asking price.

That doesn't much surprise Mike Lavorato, a real estate agent with D'Aprile Properties, who works with clients including Cubs pitchers Ted Lilly and Ryan Dempster, who both put luxury Lakeview pads on the market in recent years.

"Even in the high-end category, it's really coming down to price," he said. "They know that a lot of these sellers understand that they've lost a great deal of value in their homes. These buyers are looking to push the envelope."

In June, the Tribune said rock star Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins cut the price of his condo in the Gold Coast from $3.55 million to $2.85 million, a lot less than the $5.5 million he was asking for it in September 2008, when the place first went on the market. It's even less than Corgan paid in 2002, when he bought the 3,700-square-foot pad. He laid out $2.95 million back then.

"If you're a celebrity on the sell side, most of them have purchased these homes [with] cash. They'd like to sell but they don't have to," Lavorato said, though he counsels clients instead that "you can take that money and probably put it into a wiser investment."

Celebs aren't always getting a deep discount on luxury homes, though. Witness Rosie O'Donnell, who reportedly bought a Lakeview house in September for close to its $2.5 million asking price.

Someone who perhaps has figured out the equation?

Oprah Winfrey, of course, who originally put a luxury (to say the least) co-op unit out for $6 million from June 2008 to 2009, according to the Tribune, but has recently found another way to market the historic Streeterville building, which has a butler's pantry, wine room and a 1,241-square-foot master bedroom.

She's renting it out – for $15,000 a month.

ggarvey@tribune.com | @gcgarvey

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