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Fischer: No place like (an extravagant) home for the holidays

By Jen Fischer - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Dec 22, 2023

Nam Y. Huh, Associated Press

This 14-room brick house in Winnetka, Ill., featured in the 1990 movie "Home Alone," is seen Friday, May 6, 2011, after being put up for sale for $2.4 million. The family comedy featured a young Macaulay Culkin defending the house from intruders. The 4,250-square-foot house sits on a half-acre lot about 20 miles north of Chicago. There are four bedrooms and it features the staircase that Culkin sledded down in the movie.

Ode to the classic home featured in Christmas movies over the decades. With the exception of all of the Hallmark Christmas movies, which we cannot count due to lack of character development as well as plot (single girl who has lost a parent over the holidays, runs a small business and is with the wrong guy is threatened by an evil corporation but single male best friend saves the day and they drink hot cocoa by a fireplace next to a perfectly decorated Christmas tree), there are some definite favorites that have procured a spot in the top five -- at least in my unsolicited, biased and discrepant opinion. What I do know for fact is that few of these houses today would be affordable for the average Joe (no offense to any Joes out there who are not average).

Beginning with the time-honored home at 3159 W. 11th St., Cleveland, featured in the iconic movie "A Christmas Story" released in 1983 but set in 1940s Indiana, even though it was filmed in Ohio. This is a tale of a young boy, Ralphie, and his desire for a Red Ryder BB gun from Santa. This is the film that introduced the classic leg lamp. The iconic home, if it were not famous, would be estimated at a value of $291,912 today. In this area of Cleveland, where the median annual income is $37,351, Joe (the average one, not the above- or below-average one) would be hard pressed to qualify.

The 1946 film "It's a Wonderful Life" featuring George Bailey, a bank manager who is facing financial ruin and contemplates ending it all on Christmas Eve, could have possibly used his real estate holdings to save himself and his family. The home, at 4587 Viro Road, La Cañada Flintridge, California, has an estimated value of $2.1 million today. He could have sold it, moved to Utah and settled in a nice rambler-style home in Davis or Weber County for less than one-fourth that, saving the guardian angel, who intervened to save him, a trip down to Earth.

Watching the seminal 1989 film "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" is admittedly one of my favorite Christmas traditions. This film chronicles the disastrous adventures of the Griswold family as they prepare for the holiday season. Clark, the main character played brilliantly by Chevy Chase, plans to surprise his family by announcing the pool he will be having installed with the proceeds of his Christmas bonus. The pop-in, monthlong surprise visit from Cousin Eddie, two ragged children, his wife and a disease-ridden rottweiler named Snots in tow could only add to the value of the property when he parks his rusting hulk of a 1972 Ford Condor II RV on the front curb and proceeds to clean out his sewage into the neighborhood storm drain. Either way, the home is only a shell that exists on a lot within Warner Bros. studio, sans pool. If the lit-up beauty were real, I'm sure it could sell for a cool $4.7 million easily in today's market, which makes it unaffordable for almost everyone.

Heading over to 671 Lincoln Ave, Winnetka, Illinois, will land you directly among the misadventures of 8-year-old Kevin McCallister, mistakenly left behind when his family travels to Paris on their Christmas vacation in "Home Alone." Resourceful and ingenious, he manages to handle things just fine when having to protect himself and his home from two bungling and inexperienced robbers. Although the average income in this area of Illinois is higher than most, at $250,000, the Georgian home, sitting on a half-acre lot, has an estimated value of $2.39 million.

Photo supplied

Jen Fischer

Ebenezer Scrooge's home, on the other hand, from Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," the gold standard for Christmas stories, located at 45 Lime St. in central London, is not for sale, since Scrooge has rumored to have reverted back to his old ways and refuses to let it go at any price lest he miss out on time building equity.

The last home to be featured is an apartment in New York. The 2003 film "Elf," starring Will Ferrell, highlights a scene in which Will's character, Buddy the Elf, meets his grumpy and less-than-delightful birth father, Walter. When invited by Walter's warm-hearted wife to stay with them at their Manhattan apartment, Buddy wastes no time decking this executive suite all out for Christmas with paper snowflakes, gold tinsel, stringed popcorn and paper chain garland. All in, this apartment would likely go for well over $3.5 million in today's market.

While certainly not an all-inclusive list of great Christmas movies featuring fun-filled holiday-adorned homes, this could be a start. Sit back, pour yourself some warm cocoa, turn the Christmas lights on and join your family for a good old-fashioned game of Hallmark holiday movie Bingo. Happy holidays!

Jen Fischer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or jen@jen-fischer.com.

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