Best Deals of 2008 – Sand Section

By Dave Fratello | January 30th, 2009
The other day we commended the buyers of some of the “Deals of the Year” for 2008, focusing first on the Hill Section.

Today, let’s look at the Sand Section, where our top deal of the year is to be found.

Sand Section

Best Deal of 2008, Sand Section and MB west of Sepulveda: The new construction at 221 34th (5br/4ba, 4200 sq. ft.) drew raves from MBC when it first hit the market in April. We've called it an "ultra-contemporary showpiece, stunning, cool, clean, and featuring world-class ocean, PV & pier views."

Two problems: 1) contemporaries simply have a limited audience, and 2) the start price of $5.4m was a bit too rich for the North End.

Over time, we learned how much too rich.

Once the sellers started sending clear signals that they were ready to unload the property, cutting as low as $3.599m, in walked an internet entrepreneur who'd had his eye on the home.

The buyer made his own deal, saving a bit more on the transaction, with a purchase price of $3.315m. (The sale closed last week, but since the deal was cut in 2008, we're ascribing it to last year.)

That chop from start was an astonishing $2.085m, fully 39% off the start price. That may well have cut into bone.

Consider that the developer purchased the lot almost 3 years earlier, for $2.150m (in June 2005). If the build cost much more than $1m, the sellers lost and the buyer grabbed it for less than replacement cost. That's the deal of the year.

Honorable mention: 225 Homer is a "decent-sized 3br/3ba, 2300 sq. ft. home with substantial ocean views," as MBC put it earlier in the year.

We also called it, "Contemporary, clean, and nice, nestled in a very quiet part of the South End."

Despite its pluses, 225 Homer lingered for quite a while after starting at $2.3m, ultimately cutting $600/-26% to close a deal at $1.7m in August. (See "Homer's Shocking Fall.")

That was a markup of $358k/+26% over the seller's Aug. 2002 acquisition price – a not-insubstantial profit, but well below trend for all those boom years in between.

Honorable mention: 532 6th is a South End walkstreet modern (4br/4ba) that sold for an insignificant $27k markup over its March 2005 acquisition price.

Then: $1.818m. Oct. 2008: $1.845m.

The 6th St. house is a surprisingly warm gem, with nice – if tight – family spaces and treetop views from the master. It was hindered by a location bordering busy Valley, although clever architecture largely disguises the street and features the greenbelt from a few spaces inside.

Buying today at 2005 prices struck us as a pretty nice deal.

All the more so because the first time 532 6th hit the market (with a different agent), it was marked up 49% to $2.7m. No, no, no, said the market, it's flat.

So that's our sense of the best deals, but, of course, these are relative and subjective. You may have a different view. For instance, you might have chosen at least one home that wasn't a contemporary/modern. Let us know.

We did search far and wide among the Sand Section sales from '08 for something at the lower end (near $1m) that struck us as a special property. Sorry to say that even among sales approaching $1.5m, the homes, locations or both were mostly challenged in one way or another, leading us to conclude that beach areas are the slowest to drop. Or were, in 2008.

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