Bubble-Era Prices?

By Dave Fratello | March 12th, 2013

Anecdotes don't make for good analysis, but...

Observation from a Northern California agent we spoke with Monday: "This isn't bubble pricing. It's worse than the bubble years. Our inventory is too low. Everything gets bid up crazily."

That's a different market the agent was speaking of, but it rhymes with what we see in MB these days.

So in this market, people can shoot for the moon, and sometimes hit it.

Look at one of the newest listings/pending deals in MB: 3312 Manhattan Ave., a detached townhome with 4br/3ba, 2000 sq. ft. (2000 build with views.)

This one tried to get $2.390M for a small stretch of Spring 2006, but didn't succeed.

Now, it's in escrow in an off-market deal that has posted at $2.399M (pending), suggesting that it may actually get that '06 wish price.

Nabbing a 2006 bubble-era asking price now, when they couldn't amid the (last) frenzy? OK.

It's certainly true that $2.4M for a TH of 2000 sq. ft. has been rare.

The signature deal of recent months that made us say "huh?" because it had a bubble-era comparison was 624 14th (5br/6ba, 5770 sq. ft. ). That's a huge, newer ocean-view Mediterranean in the Martyrs neighborhood that actually sold for lots more than its 2007 acquisition price.

New in 2007: $4.350M

And in Aug. 2012: $4.900M (+13%) – see "A 13% Markup in Martyrs."

But that was 2012.

And it's easy to write off certain huge, must-have properties as anomalies.

So look in a completely different direction. A comparatively little TH (3br/2ba, 1440 sq. ft.) in the South End of the Sand Section, 332 1st Place, has just sold for $1.400M.

On the one hand, that's just about the lowest price paid for any Sand Section property south of MB Blvd. in the last 3 years.

On the other, it's a significant markup to the last trade on 332 1st Place, during the previous bubble:

Nov. 2005: $1.225M

March 2013: $1.400M (+14%)

Go big again, and remember the Hill Section Craftsman at 624 6th (4br/4ba, 3450 sq. ft., 4200 sq. ft. lot). (See our review of the home in this February open-house post.)

Like the first property we referenced here, it's in escrow, not closed, so the asking price has to be considered aspirational until they close it out.

Nonetheless, they were looking for a markup over 2007:

May 2007: $3.400M

Now (asking): $3.699M (+9%)

We weren't sure they'd hit that number, but 624 6th made a deal within a few weeks, often a good sign for the sellers.

You can't avoid this conclusion: The dip of 2008-2011 is long over, prices are back – in general – near bubble-era levels, and some properties can even get their late-bubble prices today.

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UPDATE: More evidence of bubble-era price aspirations comes with 1725 Oak, a custom Spanish... on Oak. It sold for $2.050M in Dec. 2007, and is listed now for $1.999M.

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