Spring's Intriguing Signs

Posted by Dave Fratello on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010 at 3:51am.

Now there's more evidence that February 2010 is not going to feel much like February 2009.

Now we see not just a noteworthy bounceback in demand, the first buyers of the Spring Selling Season diving in.

We see not just a few quick sales. (MBC first noted a few "impressive" quick sales in "Quickies in the Trees" earlier this month.)

Now we are seeing quick sales on new listings that don't even seem particularly well-priced.

For perspective, let's recall that February 2009 saw 14 new escrows open among SFRs west of Sepulveda, by MBC's count. (See the MB Market Update for 2/28/09.) In February 2008, the sales pace was exactly the same.

This year, we're already up to at least 18, with most of a week left in this short, fairly hot month.

Among the more surprising deals (click any highlighted address for more pics & details via Redfin):

The standout head-scratcher so far has to be 2708 Pacific (5br/4ba, 3400 sq. ft.), an early-90s home on a busy street that launched at $1.849m early this month. That was a price, MBC noted, near what new construction in comparable parts of the Trees was fetching recently – even a bit higher.

The home has been gracefully updated and showed well. Still, we would not have been surprised to see 100+ DOM and a closed price near $1.6m.

Instead, the sellers had a deal within 10 days – and early deals rarely involve big discounts. [UPDATE: 2 days after this story posted, 2708 Pacific fell out of escrow and returned to market at $1.777m.]

A newer home (2003 build) at 1900 Walnut is hardly the same kind of surprise, but it's always impressive to see a home hit the market and sell pretty much immediately, as is the case here. It hit the market at $2.029m, which seems to have been just fine with the buyers.

Yes, that would be a $2m+ resale of an average-size home (5br/4ba, 3150 sq. ft.) right here, early in 2010. Maybe not a shock, but definitely worth a double-take.

The location and corner lot are both clear draws for Walnut. The tasteful, shingled Cape Cod has the nice extra of a walk-up façade and entry along 19th rather than the garage-faced design most Tree Section homes are forced to use on their narrow lots.

Points of comparison: Across Walnut, new construction at 1901 Walnut (same size, 5br/5ba, 3150 sq. ft.) closed last February for $2.150m. Meanwhile, 1900 Walnut itself was purchased for $1.550m in May 2003.

432 9th (4br/3ba, 2650 sq. ft.) also joined the quick-sale club in the last few days. The surprise here is – again – the price.

432 9th launched at $2.699m, more than $100/PSF higher than a close comp from last May. That looked to be pushing the ceiling a bit, and that pricing strategy can succeed only when there's a lot of "must-have" emotion flowing.

The comp from last year was 408 9th, quite nearby, and also similarly sized (4br/3ba, 2400 sq. ft.) and nicely remodeled. 408 fetched $2.175m, a big step (more than $500k) below the $2.7m sought this year by 432 9th.

Did we say something about "must-have" emotion? It swirled around here, and a deal within 10 days at 432 9th, with multiple offers, could be viewed as a bullish sign all over the flat walkstreets.

For instance, the deal is clearly good news for 405 9th, a lot sale on the sunnier north side of the block, which is clearly too optimistic at $2.3m, but suddenly doesn't look as far out of line as it did a week ago.

Much the same might be said of plenty of new listings that will be trying to figure out the magic behind the quick Spring success stories around town.
comments powered by Disqus