Speedy Speckies Sprout

Posted by Dave Fratello on Friday, April 29th, 2011 at 3:34am.

Nationally, the numbers for new-home construction and sales continue to be "very depressed."

Locally here in MB, almost all of the new construction consists of custom builds for owner-users.

2600 Pine has been split for twin speckies.
But it's hard to ignore the 5 new spec homes sprouting in the Tree Section these days.

Rather rapidly, the area has played host to a whirl of demo dozers, foundation-builders and, already, framers who have given shape to 2 of the 5 homes, and a third is very close to looking like a house, too.

Most recently, the last of the bunch, 1601 and 1605 Pine, were flattened. Already they've got the first foundation elements framed and poured. 

Maybe you didn't get the memo yet. Some kind of Spec construction is back in the Trees. This mini-wave of 5 homes all traces back to the same agent, developer and builder. Given their progress in so short a time, we could see finished homes on the market later this year.

The speckie sites:

2600 Pine, featured above, was once a jolly 50s rancher sporting a needlessly double-wide lot. (See "Double the Fun?") The buyer/builders took care of that, razing the rancher and dividing the dirt. You'll soon see two Tuscan/Caliterraneans occupying the space instead. The lot sold for $1.6m, or $800k per 4480-sq.-ft. plot.

2610 Maple is under way.
2610 Maple, once the site of a small (2br/1ba, 1000 sq. ft.) 50s home, has now been scraped clean and you'll already see the framing for the garage and first floor of the next home to take up residency on the lot.

The little old home – which can still be seen by clicking that Redfin link above – was first offered last July for $969k (fat chance), and later fungus was discovered in the walls. (Zoinks.)

Though a good stab at remediation was made, the property was tainted. It fell prey to spec builders who liked the location enough to pay more for this lot than the other 4 now under development: $840k.

Where there were cottages, there is dirt at 1601/1605 Pine.
1601 and 1605 Pine both sold near $800k this year as well. Only 1605 was on the open market, starting at $959k in August 2010 (no, no, no). 

Both are a tad smaller than usual Tree Section lots at 4256 sq. ft., and the prior homes shared a liability – a shared driveway along the property line between them, leading to rear garages. Had only 1605 been redeveloped, 1601 basically would have found its garage inaccessible (except by bike, motorbike or Smart Car).

Instead, both of the 1940s cottages succumbed.

So the work is under way in several spots at once. Contractors are shuttling back and forth between the locations – which are conveniently close to one another – and you get the feeling that a bunch of guys who haven't had much to do for years are suddenly happy to be back in the saddle again, giving it their all.

The local spec market died a few years ago, the gravestone being set in place when some of the last shards of inventory were put up for auction and some were then foreclosed upon. (Our broadest recap was in "Revisiting the MB/HB Auction" last July.)

Is the spec market really back?

For at least one investment group, it is. We know they're fast. Let's see what they produce.
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