Could You Have Predicted?

By Dave Fratello | June 7th, 2010
A new short-sale listing at 923 1st (5br/5ba, 7750 sq. ft.) actually conjures up a couple of old stories here at MBC.

The home itself is up now at $4.0m, literally half its asking price in January 2008.

This head-spinner of a vast party house was reviewed in detail by your blog author in "Unpredictable" about 2 1/2 years ago after a "sunset" open house.

It was then listed for $7.998m, a rather dramatic markup from its $3.3m acquisition price in Sept. 2003. 

Several months after our first review, still back in 2008, MBC readers deemed 923 1st to be the least likely of a few high-end Hill Section listings to drop below $6m. (See "Results: First to $6m.") Shortly after that, MBC noted that the price on the home had been raised from a low of $7.150m to $7.350m (see "It Remains Unpredictable").

The listing eventually quit the market, having failed to find its level, and here we are – so much later – noting its turn for the worse. The listing says:

"A must see at this price. Make an offer Time is of the Essence"
You might read that as: Short sale? It could be worse.

Now, we don't wish the seller – or the bank – any ill will by calling attention here. This unique home was priced wrong, its value got pummeled amid the economic meltdown and it's now back as a sacrifice. In some measure, this could happen to anyone, whether it's a $4m house or a $400k house. Call it another cautionary tale.

Caution, however, was temporarily out the window when MBC first reviewed 923 1st. So here's that other "old story."

To protect the author's anonymity, we've been pretty good here at MBC about covering our tracks over the years. One policy was to not write about a home immediately after seeing it, certainly not if the listing agent (or babysitter) could identify who had walked through on a given day.

923 1st was so compellingly strange that, for some reason, we cast aside that wise policy. Our "Unpredictable" post appeared the morning after the open house we'd toured.

See that pic up top? It's from your blog author's cell phone. The car in the frame is the listing agent's, exactly where she parked it that afternoon. This would become a clue.

The open house turned out to be, if not quite invitation-only, sparsely attended by the general public. It was fairly easy to determine who the MBC author might have been from among the small crowd.

An intelligence report circulated among agents of a large local brokerage. It contained some excited "ah-ha's" about how they'd figured out that the MBC author had come through 923 1st, and they had a general description of the person.

It wasn't much to go on, though, and they never tracked down the open-house visitor they'd identified.

Things have changed recently as your blog author prepares to, and expects to, "come out." We've sprinkled hints like breadcrumbs all over town, met in person with some people and have given a few others a solid head start.

So 923 1st may be back, but the days of trying to figure out who's producing MBC probably aren't.

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