Big Views, Nearly $5m for Dirt

Posted by Dave Fratello on Friday, February 10th, 2012 at 10:57pm.

There are never very many homes for sale in the Hill Section. It's a fairly small subregion of the MB market, and you get the sense that once people get situated – in the view areas, particularly – they're not going anywhere.

Yet once in a while something special comes along, often in the form of pricey lot sales. Highview Ave. had a couple of those fairly recently:
  • 809 Highview was a land sale at $4.3m in Aug. 2010 – yes, more than $4m for the dirt. It's a 14,000+ sq. ft. lot on the (preferable) downsloping western side of the street. The huge new home under construction there will have great views of the ocean and PV– and no power poles in the way.
  • 908 Highview is down the slope of the hill by a half block, and is a slightly smaller lot at 12,850+ sq. ft. It sold for $3.6m in July 2011. Views will come only from higher floors and to the rear of the lot, due to the lower position of the lot and the 2-story homes right across the street. It will take some creative design to maximize the views. The scraping of the old home there has just begun recently.
Some recent woulda/coulda-been lot sales included 600 John (9975 sq. ft. lot, $4.3m in Jan. 2011), a big corner lot where the new owners have decided to remodel the old 1-story house instead of scraping it, and 636 9th (9425 sq. ft. lot, $3.6m in an overbid situation), an older house bought by neighbors to preserve their own views.

Current house at 636 8th
Now, new to the market is 636 8th, a 9950 sq. ft. lot right at the foot of Highview at 8th, where the current home already enjoys commanding views to the south and west. (Click the listing address to see some view pics.) It's a great position on the hill where everything to the south and west drops down, clearing the way for forever vistas.

With a start at $4.850m, 8th is priced at a premium even against those recent nearby sales, but there may be some rationale. In addition to the special views, 8th offers a deep and usable back yard – not really a feature of the nearby lot at 809 Highview, where they're building a nice, large front yard along Highview more, it would seem, as an adornment to the entry than as a space to run around or entertain out of doors.

636 8th is one of the last view lots on 8th not to be developed recently – the other being the neighbor to the west – so scarcity weighs in as well. (The current 4br/3ba, 2275 sq. ft. house doesn't have much going for it, particularly for a $4m+ buyer. So while we like the listing's hopeful statement that "[r]estoring the current home is a possibility," no.)

However this deal shakes out, we'd bet that the home on this land in 2-3 years will be extraordinary.

Current house at 206 S. Dianthus
Another Hill Section land sale happened quickly already in 2012, over at 206 S. Dianthus.

That's a 6350 sq. ft. lot with good ocean and rooftop views – though nothing like Highview or 8th, and there are electrical wires and poles in the area, unlike the prime view areas of the Hills. (Click on the listing to see several view pics.)

206 S. Dianthus came up in late January at $2.5m and posted a deal in less than 2 weeks. [UPDATE: On Saturday Dianthus returned to active status, its first deal having flopped.]

Looking elsewhere in the Hills, 2 other listings come up sometimes in discussions of lot values or possible lot sales.

704 Pacific
704 Pacific (5br/7ba, 4975 sq. ft., 8960 sq. ft. lot) has a charming, custom Colonial/Cape Cod home on it, good views from some living spaces, and absolutely world-beating views from the separate office/guest room built up in the back of the lot.

But the home's layout and design have apparently turned off potential buyers. More than once, we've heard the listing described – fairly or unfairly – as a lot sale, meaning a buyer would actually intend to start over. Kinda shocking. (Disclosure: We toured the property with a client last year.)

704 Pacific is in its 10th month on market, and is currently up at $4.495m

724 10th
724 10th (8br/8ba, 7000 sq. ft.) offers a giant, 10,500 sq. foot lot along a dropping slope, with good views to the south and west.

The Southwestern-style home has almost no audience among today's buyers, however, and it is in a condition such that the listing delicately says it has "tremendous potential to upgrade."

Truthfully, the real "tremendous potential" is for a new home on the land, one actually built to take advantage of the view potential.

724 10th began in August 2011 at $5.690m and recently cut to $4.895m, putting it barely above 636 8th, which is more obviously being marketed for its lot value.
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