A Couple Good Changes

By Dave Fratello | March 2nd, 2009
Intensely close readers may have noticed the other day that MBC's reference to 528 6th did not provide bed/bath or square footage. (See "Losing Our Bounce." Click address for more pics & details via Redfin.)

OK, we sincerely doubt that any of the 1,000-plus readers that day actually did notice. But here's why we skipped over that basic detail: the square footage has been in flux for some time.

The house is the same – no flux there. But as MBC noted 14 months ago in "Buyer, You'd Better Verify," it seemed the sellers wanted to portray the square footage as being nearly 4200, when the real square footage is less than 3500.

Last year, after MBC spelled out the problem, the agent kept the listing data the same while professing that every serious buyer was immediately told that the interior square footage was actually less than the 4168 listed.

This year, with a new agent, the listing began the same, with a non-public agent's note hinting at a possible past appraisal that might have included some exterior space in the home's square footage. "[W]e highly advise buyer to verify" the square footage, it said.

After inquiries from MBC, the new agent changed the listing to display 3476 square feet, about 700 sq. ft. less than the controversial figure.

The new number matches an updated figure on the county assessor's website. Look back at the older story linked above, and you'll see a screenshot from the assessor then, which gave 4168 sq. ft. for the living space. Turns out, the assessor had changed his mind at some point over the past year, before the sellers and the new agent did.

Besides changing the listed size, the more substantial difference for 528 6th this time around is the price. Last year, the sellers were looking for a significant bump over the $2.995m they had paid in Feb. 2006. The listing began at $3.449m and never changed.

This year, they start at $2.799m, about $200k below the acquisition price. That's even more of a chop than it appears, because the current owners did some substantial renovations upon taking ownership a few years back.

A shift in the sense of this home's market value is a sign of the times, but also a reflection of the experience of neighboring 532 6th, a somewhat smaller home designed and built at the same time, and in much the same modern style, as 528 6th.

As MBC noted in Nov. 2007 in "6th Street Is Turning Over," 532 6th began by seeking a 49% markup over its March 2005 acquisition price of $1.818m. That huge markup was short-lived, but when the home came back to market at a more realistic price, it still needed to cut down to $1.845m in a deal that closed in Oct. 2008.

That price on the neighbor was essentially flat against the March 2005 price. So the current listing at 528 6th is rewinding a bit back before its Feb. 2006 price, trying to find the right price somewhere around 2005, too. That's a necessary change, but in today's market, it's an open question whether that's enough.

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