For John Abendshien, the thought of selling his home in this funky real estate market was enough to make him slap his palms to his cheeks and scream. But he and his wife, Cynthia, say they feel lucky that their address for sale is 671 Lincoln Street, Winnetka—better known as “the Home Alone house.” The $2.4 million listing of the stately 1920s colonial Georgian that Macaulay Culkin defended in Chris Columbus’s 1990 holiday blockbuster stirred international press earlier this month. That has the Abendshiens and their Realtor, Marissa Hopkins, resting easy.
“The Bat-Signal is definitely up that it’s on the market,” Hopkins says while taking me on a tour of the 4,250-square-foot, four-bedroom home. “Usually you have to advertise locally in the papers.”
While Hopkins hopes the media coverage will stir up serious buyers—not just the droves of curiosity seekers who have been clamoring for a showing—the pop-culture connection is not necessarily a boon to the property’s value. “No one’s going to give you $100,000 more because it was the Home Alone house,” says Art Wilson, a North Shore broker whose office is located a block away. “The reputation of the property doesn’t really add any value. It might get the attention of someone looking for a house, but after that, the house still has to measure up and price out properly.”
Wilson says the house is listed fairly compared to other homes on the market in the area. “I don’t think there’s an up-charge at all because it was used in a film,” he says. “If it wasn’t the Home Alone home, it’d be on the market for the same amount of money.”
Around the corner from the ersatz McAllister family home, at 660 Prospect Avenue, a seven-bedroom red-brick colonial built in 1903 carries a comparable $2.25 million price tag. “It may not be famous, but we think ours is nicer,” says agent Candy Pyle. She suspects the $150,000 difference between the two properties’ prices is due to the fame factor—something Hopkins denies.
“If you can say, ‘Hey, they shot this movie in my house,’ and it’s been documented, I think that definitely helps make the property more attractive,” says veteran location scout Gretchen Brown, who has spent her 26-year career working on everything from Stranger Than Fiction to NBC’s new series The Playboy Club. (Homeowners interested in submitting their home for movie and commercial shoots can send photos and contact info to the Illinois Film Office, 100 West Randolph Street, Room 3-400; crews pay as much as $2,500 a day.)
Still, film stardom isn’t always a real estate blessing. Just ask Meladee Hughes. For two years, she has been showing the Miesian home used in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Next month, after taking the Highland Park property originally listed at $2.3 million off the market to restage the interior, Hughes (no relation to director John Hughes) said the price will be cut for a third time, below the $1.65 million it was reduced to last August. The initial swarm of media coverage, she says, created a false bubble of interest that hasn’t paid off.
“The truth is,” Hughes admits, “most people don’t want to live in a house that everyone is running by and pointing fingers at.”
To schedule a showing of the Home Alone house, contact realtor Marissa Hopkins (847-681-4145, firstname.lastname@example.org).