Once called the nation's most-accomplished economist under the age of 40, University of Chicago Prof. Steven Levitt (check page one from your May 7, 2003, WJ archives for a profile), after fixing up and selling several houses in his hometown of Oak Park, "got the impression [real estate agents] weren't working solely in their clients' best interest," Levitt told the New York Times.
So he and a colleague created a study that looked at sales of 98,000 suburban Chicago homes, 3,300 of which were owned by real estate agents.
Levitt found that agent-owned homes stayed on the market an average 9.5 days longer and reaped median sale prices that were 3.7 percent higher than comparable client-owned homes.
The professors blamed "poorly designed incentives" in part for the disparity. Agents make 1.5 percent of the sale price, so low-ball offers don't cost them nearly as much as they would an owner.
"As consumers become more comfortable with the idea that they can price their own properties, times will get tougher and tougher for real estate agents," Levitt told the Times.
The Trib's theater critic emeritus, Richard Christiansen, was lionized by Rick Kogan in a profile last October in Chicago Tribune Magazine for his four decades of quality critiques. Christiansen, it turns out, learned his craft on the Oak Park playgrounds. A photo shows the aspiring thespian in 1943 at the age of 12 in a production of "Racketty-Packetty House" (see photo below). Oak Park's neighborhood playgrounds were highly organized in those days and considered a national model. Christiansen grew up on the south side of Oak Park.
?#34;Drew Carter, Kathy Grayson, and Ken Trainor