Lake County communities attract many homebuyers

Lake County communities attract many homebuyers

Libertyville, Mundelein, Vernon Hills and Wauconda sit on land that was once unsettled prairie and home to the Potawatomi Indians. Today these thriving towns in Lake County offer a nice selection of homes, top-of-the-line school districts and a vibrant dining and entertainment scene.

These amenities along with an abundance of adventure and recreation make these towns attractive areas for homebuyers.

Lake County still offers some of the most beautiful and picturesque country scenery and lakeside views with many forest preserves and natural areas and is home to six miles of Lake Michigan shoreline.


Whether you're looking for a starter home, an in-town residence or a newly built house in an upscale subdivision, these towns in Lake County offer a variety of options.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, which gave Libertyville a Great American Main Street Award, called the downtown "a place with its own sense of self" where people still stroll the streets on a Saturday night and where the tailor, the hometown bakery and the vacuum cleaner repair shop are shoulder to shoulder with gourmet coffee vendors and a microbrewery.

Real estate in Libertyville has been pretty steady and predictable, said Nancy Edwards, managing broker at RE/MAX Suburban.

"We've have the downtown area that is always in demand. Older homes in the $300,000 to $500,000 range are selling well, especially if they have had major upgrades such as siding, roofs and windows."

The walk-to-town Heritage area is popular. There are a lot of outlying areas that have the acreage but don't have the walk-to-town advantage, Edwards said. With the market doing better, people will tear down a little brick ranch and put up a new home. They don't mind that there's not much of a yard."

Mundelein offers a wide variety of housing opportunities in an array of family-oriented neighborhoods that are quiet and easily accessible. Its older homes are well built, providing an affordable family home on a modest lot.

Mundelein is a good place for first-time and second-time buyers because of the affordable housing market, said Florene Darr, broker with Century 21 Affiliated. "We do need more houses in the lower price ranges. Second- and third-time buyers often choose newer construction.

"Mundelein has all the amenities of the city with the feeling of the country, which makes it a nice place to live and raise a family. It has a great community feeling where residents feel involved with the Mundelein leadership."

The village of Vernon Hills began as an outgrowth of a small 125-house subdivision built by developers Quinn Hogan and Barney Loeb. Incorporated on July 16, 1958, the village grew from a few hundred residents to 5,600 during its first two decades. Today Vernon Hills is home to more than 25,000 people.

In Vernon Hills real estate, "we're seeing good activity although inventory is low across the board," said Lucy Kim, broker associate with Century 21 Affiliated. "A lot of people with historically low interest rates are rehabbing and updating their homes rather than buying a new home and taking on a higher interest rate.

"Another situation is that a lot of people can't afford the down payment on a new home so they're not in the marketplace.

"Most of the homes in Vernon Hills often go to multiple offers and move quickly, even in the condo market. Whatever I have doesn't last long if it's priced right."

Wauconda began as a popular vacation spot for people from Chicago that headed north to enjoy Bangs Lake. Homes ringed the lake and a small commercial center developed. The population grew after World War II, and the town attracted many residents in the 1990s as it developed into a residential suburban area.

Wauconda is seeing a good real estate market again, but there aren't enough houses on the market and not enough affordable options for people, said Pattie Taylor, managing broker at RE/MAX Plaza. "A certain segment wants to be close to town and others want to be on or near Bangs Lake.

"Wauconda has such a vibrant downtown with so much activity. It's really blossoming, Also, we have a lot of nice parks and good schools, and people want to live here."

New construction

Builders are attracted to these Lake County communities because of the area's quality of life and abundance of recreation and natural areas. Several homebuilders are active in the area and draw homebuyers who want to move into a clean, pristine home that no one has lived in before.

• Libertyville

Parkside at Libertyville by K. Hovnanian Homes showcases townhouses that wow buyers with their stunning open interiors for today's sophisticated buyers. The builder offers four designs, each with a "Hov hub" tech center, three bedrooms, 2½ baths and a two-car garage. Homes priced from $479,995 to $519,995 feature 2,110 to 2,550 square feet. The community sits near Libertyville's quaint downtown area with historic buildings, restaurants, pubs and coffee shops.

Also by K. Hovnanian Homes and coming soon, North Pointe Estates on Butterfield Road will feature 15 luxury single-family homes with up to 3,375 square feet and 2½ to three baths.

The River Glen Capital Group LLC presents River Glen, 65 custom homes on 26 acres of rolling, wooded terrain in the exclusive River Road corridor, minutes from downtown Libertyville, a Metra station and the tollway. The community offers easy access to the Des Plaines River Trail, a scenic, 28-mile path that meanders along the river, and Independence Grove with an array of outdoor activities including fishing, boating, biking, hiking and a swimming beach.

• Mundelein

Maple Hill by K. Hovnanian Homes features 63 single-family homes with a choice of five designs with up to four bedrooms and three baths. Priced from $333,995, homes offer bright, open floor plans with impressive kitchens and elegant baths.

D.R. Horton Homes offers Lake Ridge, a new townhouse community featuring two, three-level townhouses priced at $259,995 with 1,756 square feet, three bedrooms, two baths and a two-car garage. Lake Ridge is close to shopping, dining and the Barefoot Bay Water Park.

• Vernon Hills

Port Clinton Row Homes by Kinzie Builders presents luxury, maintenance-free living in a tranquil suburban setting. Homes feature all the latest amenities, three bedrooms, a den, 2½ baths and attached two-car garage.

The Residences at Cuneo Mansion and Gardens sits on the grounds of the historical mansion in a tranquil setting with a walking path and mature trees, yet minutes from area amenities. Homes by Pulte Homes feature eight distinctive ranch and two-story designs priced from $600,990 with two to six bedrooms, 2½ to five baths and two- to three-car attached garages.

Woodland Chase is a new custom home community built by Icon Building Group. The wooded community offers 51 homesites and is surrounded by Sullivan Woods and Prairie View Park, both protected natural land. With homes starting from $700,000, residents are near shopping, fine restaurants, live theater, tennis, golf and equestrian facilities.

• Wauconda

Although there is no new construction in Wauconda at this time, new subdivisions are in process or coming soon to the surrounding communities of Volo, Lakemoor and Island Lake.

New businesses

In each of these towns, new businesses and restaurants keep them bustling with activity.

In Libertyville, there's a lot of activity on all fronts, said Heather Rowe, economic development coordinator. "Innovation Park (formerly Motorola) has added a number of strong tenants, which is great news."

New businesses include Chrissoulas, which offers Greek cuisine, Birdie's Coffeehouse and Edie's Boutique. Diamondeer, a custom handcrafted jewelry store specializing in wedding ring settings, will open soon.

Porto's Peri Peri, a Portuguese restaurant featuring charbroiled chicken, just opened on Peterson Road. Reclaimed Artisans Inc. offers antiques and vintage repurposed items and is the area's leading home décor store and a big attraction. And Board and Brush is a national chain of DIY woodworking. There are also a few new tenants in Green Tree Plaza and Bagels by the Book at Cambridge Plaza, Rowe said.

Mundelein is excited to welcome several new businesses to the area, said Dawn Jenich, communications manager for the town. Laziza Mediterranean Grill offers authentic Mediterranean cuisine with fresh, healthy and delicious choices on a takeout basis located on Butterfield Road.

Mexitaly Pizza is a family-owned delivery, catering and carryout pizzeria. The restaurant features Mexican food the owners enjoyed while growing up and the Italian food they now love. Fresh Café, an organic juice and smoothie bar on Lake Street, serves breakfast and lunch. Samari's Sweet Creations is also on Lake Street.

And other happenings in Mundelein: Mundelein's first mural has been completed. Diamond Lake property acquisition will open up prime Diamond Lake frontage for the enjoyment of residents, and Mundelein's North Lake Enhancement Program will begin to transform the businesses facing Route 45.

Big news in Vernon Hills is the new Mellody Farm retail center, said Joe Carey, assistant village manager. "It's very exciting, and it's a great boost to the community."

The $200 million shopping center at Townline Road and Milwaukee Avenue is built in a U shape with innovative amenities such as outdoor space for public events.

Stores include Nordstrom Rack, Barnes & Noble, HomeGoods, Kuma's Corner and other tenants to open later this year or next year such as Next Door American Eatery, a farm-to-table restaurant that will open next spring.

In Wauconda, two new businesses have opened in the Wauconda Plaza on Route 176 east of Rand Road. El Manantial is a new family-owned restaurant specializing in traditional dishes made with fresh ingredients and Sugar Block Café serves various coffees and teas along with sandwiches and salads. Maria Weisbruch, executive director of the Wauconda Area Chamber of Commerce, said the opening of these businesses is super exciting.

Green Goat is a farm-to-table restaurant with healthy options, and Bliss is a popular spot for local wines and music that is operating under new owners.

  People gathered on Main Street during the annual Wauconda Cruise Nights downtown. Steve Lundy/
  Whole Foods opened recently in the Mellody Farm shopping center in Vernon Hills. Mick Zawislak/
  Businesses and restaurants in downtown Libertyville contribute to the activity. STEVE LUNDY/
  June Pryor, left, from Oxford, Mississippi, explains the inspiration for her acrylic paintings to a customer at the Mundelein Arts Festival last month. Mick Zawislak/

Things to do in Lake County


<b>Libertyville</b>Adler Cultural Center

Adlai E. Stevenson Historic Home

Ansel B. Cook Victorian Home Museum

<b>Mundelein</b>Summer Concerts in the Park

Mundelein Art Festival

<b>Vernon Hills</b>Cuneo Museum & Gardens

Arbortheater Concerts

<b>Wauconda </b>Summer Concert Series

Annual Street Dance

Lake County Discovery Museum


<b>Libertyville</b>Independence Grove Forest Preserve

Lambs Farm

Adler Park

Nicholas-Dowden Park

Libertyville Sports Complex

<b>Mundelein</b>Barefoot Bay Water Park

Kracklauer Park

Community Park

Century Park

Steeplechase Golf Course

Diamond Lake Sports Complex,

<b>Vernon Hills</b>Century Park

Lake Charles Park

Hawthorn Club Park

Hartmann Park

Vernon Hills Athletic Complex

<b>Wauconda </b>Bangs Lake

Beach Park

Memorial Park

Wauconda Bog Nature Preserve

Two-day Rodeo

Annual events

<b>Libertyville</b>Libertyville Days Festival

Festival of the Arts

Dickens of a Holiday

<b>Mundelein</b>Mundelein Community Days Carnival

Craft Beer Festival

"One World" Cultural Festival

Mundelein Arts Festival

Mundelein Boo Bash

Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony

<b>Vernon Hills</b>Summer Celebration

Annual Oktoberfest

Tree/Menorah Lighting

<b>Wauconda </b>Farm Rock Festival

Wauconda Fest

Home Town Fall Festival

Holiday Walk and Tree Lighting


<b>Libertyville</b>Red Top Plaza

Butterfield Square

Cambridge Plaza

Downtown area

<b>Mundelein</b>Hawley Commons Shopping Center

Long Meadow Commons

Mundelein Plaza

<b>Vernon Hills</b>Hawthorn Mall

Mellody Farm Shopping Center

<b>Wauconda </b>Wauconda Shopping Plaza

Liberty Plaza

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