In the News

Estate Sale — with a New Twist
Chicago Tribune

Mary Umberger On Real Estate -

Here’s a chance to buy a toy choo-choo. Or maybe, while you’re at it, an 8,500-square-foot home.

It’s another of the endlessly unfolding lessons of today’s occasionally surreal real estate terrain: To get some houses sold, you might need a lot of eyeballs to look them over. And you might have to go to unusual lengths to get them.

That’s why a Naperville mansion is being turned into a backdrop for an unusual estate sale. Huge homes are often the settings for these sales of second-hand home furnishings and collectibles. Usually, however, said mansion is the residence of the person or family selling the goods.

But in the case of a four-day sale that’s winding up from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, the mansion is a stand-in, providing an elegant backdrop for room after room of vintage toys and other possessions that needed a sale venue.

In return, the home builder is hoping that someone among the masses who are expected to traipse through will be the key to getting the $2.5 million house sold.

“This should be mutually beneficial for everybody,” said Barb Leibovitz, co-owner of Naperville Traders, which is conducting the estate sale. “We’re expecting a good thousand or more people to come through this home.”

Barb Leibovitz said she had been approached by an avid collector of vintage toys whose house was packed and needed to downsize. At the same time, two other families whose subdivision rules prohibited estate sales also needed to unload furniture and household goods. So she started looking for builders who were sitting on enormous, unoccupied houses so that she could put three combined sales into one space.

She came up with 1116 Heatherton Drive, a spec home in the Cress Creek development that Plainfield-based James Homes has been trying to sell for more than a year.

Barb Leibovitz says, to her knowledge, this particular kind of combined marketing endeavor is untried here, and will require some safekeeping measures beyond the estate-sale norm. For instance, because a number of the rooms are staged with furniture that isn’t part of the estate sale, they’ll be cordoned off, though still gawk-able.

“We’ve had to hire an enormous staff to make sure people aren’t going into rooms that are off-limits,” she said.

“This should be mutually beneficial for everybody,” said Barb Leibovitz, co-owner of Naperville Traders, which is conducting the estate sale. “We’re expecting a good thousand or more people to come through this home.”

For the builder, it’s a leap, too, according to Ryan Hill Realty agent Jackie Thurlby. But this is the reality: There are 19 homes in Naperville priced between $2 million and $3 million, she said, and on average, they’ve been for sale for 500 days.

“Initially, [the idea of hosting a sale in the house] was a little hard,” she said. “But when Barb Leibovitz talked about the potential exposure — that at the last few events they had between 800 and 1,200 people come through — I said, well, you never know.” 

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