Be Their Guest

Posted by Dave Fratello on Tuesday, April 8th, 2008 at 5:18am.

A couple of years ago some MB homeowners got the urge to spread out a bit.

They already had a large (5br, 3600 sq. ft.) newer home, but putting up guests was apparently a challenge. The solution – not an option for everyone, let's be honest – was to buy the neighbor's house. It became the "guest house."

Despite its age and uninspired, boxy architecture, the neighboring home could be spiffed up with imaginative paint and carpet, and would make a pretty nice annex to the main home.

What's more, the back yards of the two homes could be joined by knocking down the wall between. Soon the big house had a pool and spa, courtesy of the "guest house" yard, and the guest house had access to the big new yard and lovely main house.

It was a great arrangement that lasted all of 2 years. Now, the guest house, 672 19th, is up for sale, for $1.789m. (Click for pics and details via Redfin.)

And now a few things are clear. In March 2006, the current owners overpaid. They plunked down $1.550m then for a 3br/2ba, 1700 sq. ft. home that is flawed in many respects. It was more valuable to the buyers then, for their purposes, than it was to buyers in the open market.

They've now priced it like a flip, as if we're in some kind of hot market. The owners seek a substantial premium at $1.789m (+$239k/+15%).

This just in: The market ain't hot, and there are plenty of better options for $1.8m or less. Plenty. Indeed, with 20% down, you'd pay $7k-$8k or more per month for the privilege of owning. There are probably some rentals available for less that are much better on balance.

What are the issues at 672 19th? Let's count off a few:
  • The master bath isn't. Sure, it's attached to the most masterlike of the bedrooms, but it also opens to the laundry room and can be accessed from a living room. It's small and lacks almost everything you'd expect in a nearly $2m home.
  • Dated kitchen. It's tidy but smacks of an older remodel. One of the most overpriced, yet seemingly comparable nearby listings, at 1829 Poinsettia, at least offers an inspired update.
  • Outdoor spaces. The home is oriented around a small, awful interior patio of cracked concrete. If you walk out back, there is that nice pool and newer hardscape plus spa. Don't look back at the house, though, for its roof and exterior look dreadful from the rear. (Then again, don't we all?)
  • Location. The listing says the home is, "Centrally located," and that "this location has it all." We'll grant you that it's close to Live Oak Park and even downtown, but the block is pretty choppy. Nothing sings.
  • Views. No.
If these sellers do get out from under 672 19th, we're ready to say we'll be astonished if it is with any net gain.

This is a terrible time to be asking buyers to pay for your mistakes, if you paid too much in the first place. (See the quick devolution over at the highly inspired 794 27th for an example.)

But that reality doesn't stop anyone from trying. You might get lucky!
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