Riches Slip Away

Posted by Dave Fratello on Monday, June 22nd, 2009 at 6:00pm.

A few years back, your blog author placed a lottery ticket under a scanner at a local store to see if it was a winner.

A digital readout on the machine said something completely new, which we recall as "prize cannot be paid in store; call attendant" – or words to similar effect.

The effect is what mattered: For a moment there, it seemed like the ticket might possibly be a big winner, and that this stilted message on the machine was supposed to keep the reader calm while the counter help phoned some kind of special hotline.

Alas, no. The prize was about $10, but it could not be paid yet in the store, because the draw results were too fresh – about 15 minutes old. Payouts are held for a while after the draw. So, a few days later, we pocketed the $10, not the mega millions.

That brief flirtation with garish wealth comes to mind on occasion of a new price cut at 132 2nd (4br/5ba, 4300 sq. ft.) that leaves the home up only a few percent over its April 2005 acquisition price.

Sure, the idea that we're now living 2005 prices in MB is common enough. But it must feel like a spectacular fall for the folks selling 132 2nd.

An off-market deal was said to be in hand early in 2008 to sell 132 2nd for $6.225m. Alas, the escrow fell through when the buyers took a home low down on the 16th St. walkstreet instead – for $5.6m.

Having glimpsed the market value at $6m+, the sellers put 132 2nd on the MLS at $6m exactly in late March 2008. Over the months they cut as much as $300k, but eventually quit.

When the listing returned this March at $4.5m, we took note of this price (d)evolution in "A 2nd Try at 2nd." (That story is worth another look for the property's price history and some further discussion of the location, etc.)

In mid-May, the listing canceled and was re-listed at $4.2m. Saturday, it took another significant step down to $3.795m.

From about $6.2m to $3.8m – that new list price is more than $2.4m less than the deal-in-hand price from early 2008.

Youch. That is a lot paper money to have slipped through one's hands like grains of sand.

More significantly for our local RE market, the price moves on 132 2nd provide an indicator. It would seem that Sand Section, walkstreet properties have, in fact, declined suddenly and substantially in value, amid burgeoning supply and little action.

The list price is now only about 8% higher than the $3.5m acquisition price from April 2005. That deal price from last year was 78% higher, and even if that was overheated, it was a market price, based on the willing seller/willing buyer approach.

Not so long ago, a broad opinion about MB RE was that while our town – as a whole – was holding up better than most markets, the beach-adjacent areas were holding up even better. You see some of that in these excerpted reader comments from a story last year ("Meet Francisco"):
South end news: I'm told 132 2nd (along Manh. Ave.) is under contract for $6.225m. Tax records say 5br/6ba, 4300 sq. ft.

If true, that's pretty amazing appreciation – it was purchased for $3.5m in March 2005.
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This appears to be a damn strong data point that 2005 was *not* a peak for the prime areas of MB -

Prime areas UP very solidly since 2005.

Some neighborhoods are going up and some down
That's as crisply as you can state the bullish case for the beach-adjacent walkstreets.

A follow-up comment hypothesized that 132 2nd might sell for $5.5m. Now we know it won't even sell for a price with a 4 in front. And it might, or might not, sell for more than the owners paid in April 2005. That's a big change – for one property, and for the market sub-segment to which it belongs.


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