3 More Held for Just 2 Years

By Dave Fratello | January 29th, 2008
It will be time soon for MBC to formally update our "two-year itch" tracking, watching the fate of home sellers who have held their homes just 2 years and now have seen fit to put them back on the market. (Click the "label" of "two-year itch" in the lower left-hand column for our stories to date.)

There was a time, dear readers – some would say last summer, even – when you could get out of a Manhattan Beach home you'd lived in for 2 years and walk with some tidy, tax-free profits, a few hundred k or so in many cases. (Tax-free because the U.S. tax code allows home sale profits of up to $500k to escape taxation, provided that a home was the taxpayer's primary residence for 2 years.)

Two of the 3 new listings, however – all new in 2005-06 – show reduced ambitions. They are priced now just a click above their purchase prices, and it's not hard to imagine them selling lower. Time will tell.

701 N Dianthus
(click this, or any address, for details via Redfin) is a Hill Section home that will transport you to the Tree Section. That is to say: this is no ocean-view estate, just a very decent family home (5br/5ba, 3600 sq. ft.) whose layout you'll more or less recognize if you know the Trees.

The lot size (5200 sq. ft.) affords an actual yard in back, good for dogs or kids to do dog and kid stuff, although it's not landscaped beyond simple sod. We like tucking the garage below, but we don't like dragging groceries up the stairs (how soon will the kids grow up and pitch in!?!).

The owners paid $2.530m two years ago, in Feb. 2006. They're now asking $2.775m (+245k/+10%). Of course, they lose half that markup to sales commissions, so the potential profit margin is down to about $120k/+5%. Uh-0h, the listing touts "over $150k in custom designer upgrades," including flooring, special plastering and custom paint. It would appear that, even at list price, the sellers lose money.

2901 Blanche
is, first of all, on Blanche. It's not the busiest street in the Tree Section, but it's no asset. Happily, the home (5br/5ba, 3350 sq.ft.) is mostly oriented away from the traffic, with just the mother-in-law's quarters downstairs and one kid's bedroom upstairs facing Blanche. The layout has a good flow and, while it hits all the familiar notes, feels just a little different. It's bright, but the fussy décor had us pleading for, maybe, a little more beige.

This home was purchased new for $2.295m in Sept. 2005. Starting price now is $2.395m (+$100k/+4%). Before we prophesy the sellers' certainty of losing money on the home, we should note that a relative is the listing agent, so there ought to be some savings on commissions. And yet, buyers willing to lay out $2.4m or so have options – including new homes on Elm, Walnut and Palm (not Blanche) and a new one nearby at 644 35th (click for details) which is larger (3650 sq. ft.) but starts just $65k higher.

At some point, the owners of 2901 Blanche posted their home on Zillow.com with a "Make Me Move" price of $2.850m. That was a delusion. How about $2.395m?

2312 Poinsettia
was custom-designed and built for the owner by two big local names. It's the most expensive of this group, owing to its much larger size.

You will not recognize the layout, exactly – it's got nice twists, and its quality shows throughout. A big "wow" factor: the fully appointed basement rec room with gym, pool table, 14 TV's (give or take) and massage room. (Yes, you do need a massage room.)

Unfortunately, there's no yard to go with the extra-large interior square footage (5br/6ba, 4175 sq. ft.), and, for all the big name-ness, the curb is nothing special.

We don't have data yet on the cost to the seller of this 2006 build. (The county assesses it at $1.5m or so.) But it's on offer now for $2.95m. That's a fairly modest $717/PSF, but some of that square footage is wasted if you don't make the basement your fully functioning gym/pub/office/massage-therapy-space. It's a bargain in the low-to-mid-$2m's.

MBC doesn't (yet) know all the reasons these sellers are getting out, but we're intrigued by the apparent fact that 2 out of 3 could lose money, even if the sale prices bump up a bit from their purchase prices. Same-house sales are a good way to track the local market. Netting less than you paid, however, is not a very good experience of the local market.

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