Buying & Selling Historic Estate Homes in Lake Forest

Nicole and John Oertel

Buying & Selling Historic Estate Homes in Lake Forest

It might seem like all homes everywhere are selling in “24 hours” in this current market! But that’s not the case for all homes and that’s ok. It doesn’t mean something is wrong.

In fact, we like to call some of these homes that don’t fly off the market, “the special gems”, keep reading for more!

There are so many amenities that come into play that make the sale of a home more desirable than others. There’s lot size, location, price tag in relation to location, and whether or not the home has been updated; Most millennials prefer an updated kitchen and primary bathroom at the very least. Right now, homes in the North Shore (which spans from Evanston to Lake Bluff) with a price tag of under $1.2m are not lasting on the market for more than a couple of days. 

But, what about the older homes? The ones rich with history, craftsmanship, and a unique story to tell? If you ask us, those are the special gems! There are quite a handful on the market right now and we get giddy anytime we get to show them! When it comes to listing your estate home in Lake Forest & the North Shore, it’ll feel like a waiting game. Older estate homes don’t fly off the market in “24 hours” like newer or updated homes.

That’s usually for a few different reasons:

  • The buyer doesn’t want to update
  • Buyers only want "new" builds
  • Buyers are looking for homes that are “on trend”
  • The fear of buying a “problem” home
  • Fear of the unknown, the inspection, yikes!
  • Buyers don’t understand the craftsmanship of estate homes
  • And oh so many other reasons!

It’s true that the buying pool for older homes, especially those in the luxury market, is significantly smaller.  But that only makes those homes all the more special!

However, it also means that The Oertel Group (Nicole & John) work hard to show our buyers the potential of your older home while also educating them on the history and craftsmanship of your home!

At first glance, an older estate may not have all the glitz and glam to a buyer as a modern-built home. But we promise you, if you take a look within, you will find some things in these estates that simply do not and can not exist in newer homes!

We’ll give you the perfect example of this exact scenario from our listing last year, Two Gables, an estate with a name that dates back over 100 years! I still get goosebumps just thinking about that masterpiece of a home! Two Gables immediately evokes a daydream for me that is filled with images of the handcrafted wood trim throughout, the hand-carved wood mantles above the fireplace in the drawing-room, and the David Adler famed pickled pine library! And I haven’t even mentioned the original 1910 Baccarat chandeliers yet! You could say that Two Gables was my first real architectural love, and you never forget your first love, right?!

I could go on and on all day about the drool-worthy specs at Two Gables (the German Silver Sink, Butlers Pantry, the countryside privacy you get while sitting poolside) but I want to get back to the point here.  Hearing all that information, you would think Two Gables would be sold before it ever hit the public market, right? Nope!


What experience does The Oertel Group bring to the table when selling historic estate homes in Lake Forest?


We work to educate ourselves on the history of the property by learning every single inch of the home inside and out so that we can live it and breathe it. We then use that information to educate any and all potential buyers so that they are armed with the same knowledge!

It’s true. With Two Gables, we interviewed the last contractor who worked on an extensive renovation of the home. He had still maintained the home for our clients on an as-needed basis and he was vividly familiarized with the home. What better way to educate ourselves than to walk through the home with him? And that’s exactly what we did! We walked through the home with him by our side and recorded our entire conversation. Prior to each and every showing of the Two Gables home, John would sit and listen to that recording again.

Why? Because this was a home that couldn’t just be shown, it needed to have its story told in order to be fully appreciated.

And boy oh boy did this estate have such a story to tell! From its famed architects, Harry T. Lindberg and later David Adler. From its first few owners, such as the famed Armour Family. To the vibrant parties hosted during the roaring 20s right through to a full inside renovation that still maintained all of the original craftsmanship, chandeliers, molding, stairways, and stunning brick. This was not a home that could be understood by a buyer just by a standard walk-through. At 17,000 sqft, we had to tour the home with potential buyers, as though they lived there. This allowed them to understand the flow of the home as if they had visited before, without getting lost in the estate's grand hallways. Telling the story of Two Gables was an honor each and every time we toured it with a potential buyer. Our passion for the home was real and that was evident.

A recent home we have listed today 269 Vine, ironically, is next door to Two Gables but built a few years prior, and it's another one of those special gems! This home will also take a buyer that understands and appreciates the craftsmanship of that era. It’s hard to imagine, but I don’t think most buyers understand the significant artistry it takes for a skilled hand to create hand-carved wood. And this home has it in the foyer stairs, the cured hallways, and the double-wide walkways with multiple doors leading out to the terrace. This type of workmanship just doesn’t exist in new homes! Why don’t these unique attributes like hand-carved mantels and trim exist in new homes?? That’s easy, cost. And, if we’re being honest here, there aren’t many modern-day carpenters out there that achieve this level of workmanship.

If you're in the market for a luxury estate home in Lake Forest, contact us here!


We will tour these homes side by side with you while telling you their stories of days long past. We will educate you on the intricate details of each of these homes that can be easily missed during a walk-through! You may be surprised by what you find, and you'll likely have less buying competition when you're in the market for one of these exquisite homes!

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