Can't Wipe Away the Loss

Posted by Dave Fratello on Tuesday, May 19th, 2009 at 4:26am.

More evidence that MB home prices have backtracked to 2005 or so comes from a closed sale at 468 33rd.

We'll note first that holding at 2005 prices wouldn't be so bad, if MB could levitate there for a while. Plenty of markets are living in 2002 or so, headed back further amid booming REO sales – comp killers. So we count our blessings.

Now, what makes 468 33rd a marker in our growing dataset is not going to be obvious to everyone.

The home just sold for a loss: $2.5m as of May 14, down from the May 25, 2006, acquisition price of $2.775m, a drop of $275k (-10%). But it takes some research to show that.

Here at MBC we're only certain of that acquisition price because we wrote about it 17 months ago in "Stuff Our Stockings (Please)." At that time, we wrote, the website of the LA County Assessor was showing the May 2006 sale at $2.775m.

But as this excerpt from the deed shows, the owners actually took steps to hide the acquisition price from public record when they made the purchase in 2006.

There's no way to know why the assessor showed the sale price anyway at the time of MBC's first story, but now, the county site shows no previous sale price. We stand by the original report, though, and we note that the 2008 roll values – which are online – are consistent with that $2.775m figure.

So that 10% loss from May 2006 prices suggests the value at 33rd has gone backwards a bit into some point in 2005, or, gasp!, 2004. Here the exercise becomes purely academic, because the home was built in 2005.

We might note that $2.5m is still a healthy chunk of money, as befits a luxe, large (5br/5ba, 4250 sq. ft.), newer home on a great street at the top of the plateau. It also sold pretty quickly this time, after failed attempts over the past year and a half. We counted just 6 DOM from start to escrow; the final DOM is listed as 25 in the MLS. The buyer took a quick 13% hack off the $2.890m start price.

As it happens, this home is right next door to littler 464 33rd (3br/3ba, 2540), which sold very quickly last month, aggressively priced at $1.599m (see "Beauty Calls").

There's a lesson here from 468 33rd, one we're starting to see more and more: Asking too much can cost you.

MBC called attention to this home twice in 2007 and 2008 (the "Stockings" piece and in one of our now-long-gone "Two-Year Itchers" series) to share our astonishment at the initial attempt by the owners to make a quick $720k profit (+26%) after holding the property for only a year and a half.

That plan did not pan out, obviously. The sale price was a swing of 36% in the other direction. So here's a pretty clear case where overpricing the property in the first place not only failed to generate the hoped-for windfall – the bad pricing decision wound up costing the sellers money.
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