Help! Home for sale - the Eatons
It's big, beautiful and a bargain but this Illinois home is sitting on the market.
By Les Christie, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- Carbondale, Illinois never participated in the housing bubble, but the current market pull back seems to be hitting it hard nonetheless.

At least, it's battering Judy and Bill Eaton. They've tried to sell their single-family home in the university town in Illinois's southernmost reaches for 11 months now with no success.

The Eatons have tried to sell their Illinois house for 11 months.

The price for the big (4,100 square feet), extravagant ranch house on one-and-a-third acres sounds like a joke to house hunters in coastal and other high-priced markets - just $358,000 for a four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath beauty.

But the Eatons aren't laughing. They've dropped the price twice already and have yet to attract a serious offer.

It certainly is not the house's fault. "When it was first built it was headlined in the local newspaper," says Judy Eaton, a former placement counselor for Southern Illinois University, where her husband chaired the department of education.

The custom-designed cedar and stone house has large comfortable rooms and fine details such as crown moldings, a stone fireplace and beamed ceilings. Little expense was spared in its construction.

"It was built for a woman whose father owned a lumber company in St. Louis," says Eaton. "A lot of the new homes here lack its character and charm; they don't have the features the old homes have."

The Eatons originally set the price at $425,000 last year, figuring they could get almost as much for the house as a neighbor was asking for his - $450,000. That home eventually sold for $375,000.

The current asking price - $358,000 - is only about twice as much as the house cost to build in 1968, about $175,000, which, adjusted for inflation, would be more than $1 million in 2006 dollars.

Why selling is difficult

Eaton thinks she's having trouble selling for three main reasons. First, Carbondale property is not in great demand. The town has little in the way of industry or any other economic base other than the university - and enrollment has sunk there, according to Eaton.

Second, the house is either too expensive for the young university professors and other professionals in town or too big for the older, empty-nester ones. "Homes sell the best in the $150,000 to $225,000 range, according to my agent," says Eaton.

And many buyers prefer to buy new houses, she says, despite the solid construction and undeniable charms of her property. Eaton's agent, Kimberley Hall Atamian, of Realty Central, says the town encouraged development during the past few years and many builders put up new houses, adding to lengthening inventories and hurting sales of existing homes.

The house's in-town location is yet another strike against it; most buyers prefer to live outside of Carbondale, even though the Eaton's neighborhood is a fine one.

"It was known as 'Pill Hill,'" says Eaton, "because of all the doctors who lived here."

The Eatons want to move to Edwardsville, Illinois, near St. Louis, where they already purchased a home, to be able to indulge in their favorite vice: duplicate bridge. They like to play at least once or twice a week.

"We used to have 15 to 20 tables a week in Carbondale," says Eaton. "A lot of the university people and students would play." Those games are almost history now, but in Edwardsville there are 30 to 40 tables every day, she says.

Right now, their daughter and son in law, who's studying law in St. Louis, are living in the Edwardsville house. It doesn't look like the Eatons will get there anytime soon even though the Carbondale house did attract a bid last week.

"We had someone make an offer of $275,000," says Eaton. "I didn't even counteroffer. "The most I'll come down is $10,000."

If that doesn't do it, the Eatons will take the home off the market around October 15 and wait until spring to try again. She still sounds hopeful that she can find a buyer.

"Even in the slow Carbondale market, $358,000 is a bargain," says Judy Eaton.

Also in this series: Terry Likens and Duane Przybilla struggle to sell in Eden Prairie, Minn.

  • How is the deflating bubble affecting you? If you're home isn't selling, e-mail us at
  •  Top of page

Follow the news that matters to you. Create your own alert to be notified on topics you're interested in.

Or, visit Popular Alerts for suggestions.
Manage alerts | What is this?