Chicago Athletes: Better Off Renting?

The majority of Chicago's professional athletes have become accustomed to losing on the field or court in recent years, and it seems that they're regularly losing on their homes as well. There are a handful of the city's athletes, however, that have chosen to rent instead of purchase their abodes, and this could be a game plan for success that their counterparts might want to consider.

Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould recently sold his 11-room home in Gurnee's Conservancy neighborhood for $336,500 after listing it for $350,000. He took a loss of nearly $100,000 after purchasing the home in 2006 for $430,000. All's not lost for the 28-year-old Gould, who is the NFL's highest-paid kicker: He took a step forward and moved into his 5,420-square-foot home in Kildeer, which he bought for $1.2 million back in February 2009.

Former Bulls forward Antonio Davis has also taken a beating in the housing market, selling his 13-room home in Burr Ridge for $2.75 million in early November, which was $1 million less than the $3.75 million he listed it at in the beginning of 2009. He originally put down $3.125 million for the home when he purchased it back in 2006.

Davis also sold his home in Naperville in August for $1.4 million. He and his wife bought the home in 2004 for $1.8 million.

Antoine Walker, another former NBA player, seems set to lose on his six-bedroom River North mansion, which he is listing at $2.995 million. He purchased the residence for $4.1 million in 2006. He was robbed in that house in 2007, and had other trouble with real estate when buildings owned by his two real estate companies were poorly run, angering their tenants, bank attorneys and the city of Chicago in November.

So, with all these financial losses that athletes seem to incur when they buy real estate, it begs the question: Are they better off renting?

Bulls guard John Salmons does. He's renting a home worth $3.295 million in Glencoe for $7,000 per month. Salmons was traded to Chicago last February after playing for the Sacramento Kings since 2006.

For athletes, whose tenure in their current team's city is often fickle, renting could make for smaller headaches and financial losses down the line, especially in a down market.

"I'll never buy again," said New Jersey Nets point guard Keyon Dooling to the New York Times in November. "I'll never buy again as far as where I'm playing. It's not a good idea because you can never predict how long you're going to be in a situation. You could be stuck with a piece of property that you never go to."

This isn't the majority sentiment out there, as there are still plenty of professional athletes who are looking to buy a home, but it's clear that for these often nomadic spectacles of physical majesty, there are major benefits to renting a residence rather than buying one.

In June, Ilyce Glink discussed why celebrities like Angelina Jolie would choose to rent instead of buying their homes. Her reasons included greater control over finances, traveling flexibility and an easier exit plan.

Though these multimillionaires are in vastly different situations than the average Joe and Jane, the benefits to renting as opposed to buying homes, especially in uncertain housing waters, are worth careful consideration.
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