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US Land next door to Obamas up for sale

Property Here - Wednesday, November 14, 2012

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IT'S a property fit for a US president. And it comes with a scandalous past.

The empty lot next to US President Barack Obama's Chicago home is for sale for $865,713 - but the first family has rarely spent the night there. Now, they're unlikely to do so for another four years - preferring to stay at a big white house in Washington.

"We reached out to the Obamas through his curator and the Secret Service to see if he wanted to purchase it first and they declined," said @properties agent Anthony Rouches.

While it's not been formally listed, Rouches said his clients are hoping to get $865,713 for the corner lot at 5050 South Greenwood Avenue, which they bought in March 2008 for $650,007.

"We're just testing the market to see what kind of interest there is in it," he said. "There haven't been too many presidents with a piece of land next to their house for sale."

The house on the other side of the Obama home sold two years ago for $US1.4 million ($A1.35 million), which was considered to be significantly higher than the market rate.

The empty double lot is currently being maintained by the Secret Service, which has also barricaded the street to prevent anyone but residents and their guests from entering.

Rouches noted the value will also be boosted by the fact that there are so few "buildable lots" in the historic Kenwood neighbourhood on Chicago's South Side.

He thinks it will likely end up being purchased by someone who wants to build a single family home, but it could also be a good site for luxury townhouses.

The empty lot has caused controversy for Obama in the past.

Tony Rezko, a former fundraiser for Obama and other prominent Illinois politicians, purchased the lot after Obama bought his home in 2005 and later sold Obama a portion of the land.

Rezko is currently serving time in prison on fraud and bribery charges as part of the federal investigation which led to the conviction of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on corruption charges.

Obama was not implicated in the scandal.