Here's Another Chance at 3011 Elm

By Dave Fratello | May 4th, 2010
Three months ago, we established that "Most Resales are Bubble-Era Purchases." At least back in February, about 2/3rds of active SFR resale listings west of Sepulveda had last been purchased in the hottest bubble years, between 2003-07. (It would be good to update that analysis soon.)

Now and then we're also seeing resales come up on homes that have been on the MBC radar screen at one time or another. That's a narrower, mostly post-bubble window, since we've been online just 3 years.

In late February, it was 2305 Pine, subject of MBC's first very post, that was back. In our creatively titled, "2305 Pine Is Back, 3 Years Later," we noted that the relatively new owners were offering the home back to the public at a potential net loss of $200k, after holding the home for 2 and a half years.

A mere 8% drop in the home's market value from Summer 2007 seemed optimistic this February. Pine would have been one to watch.

Alas, we never got to close that story arc, as the listing simply quit after several weeks.

So now a new arc begins with 3011 Elm.

Let's stipulate that this is a unique, luxe Spanish (5br/5ba, 3600 sq. ft.) on a kid-friendly block. It's heavy, serious, quality construction built to suit a differently shaped lot, taking advantage by being oriented around a courtyard.

Back in 2005, when new, Elm set off a must-have bidding war. Listed at $2.595m, it actually sold for $2.8m to a star athlete.

Just 2 years later, the owner picked up stakes and did a double-lot custom build a stone's throw away, just north of Valley. He tried first to sell Elm at a nice markup ($3.1m), but later took a modest loss when a buyer finally came knocking 6 months into the listing.

The sale price in December 2007: $2.650m (-$150k/-5%).

Let's see – bidding war in 2005, sluggish listing with a sale at a loss in 2007... that was news at the time. 3011 Elm was one of the first prominent, desirable homes that MBC recorded selling at a loss.

Now that it's back again, the sellers are contemplating another $150k loss (-6%). They're starting at $2.495m.

From the look of things, the owners got a little advantage from the county tax assessor, who has automatically reassessed many homes purchased in recent years. The taxable value's now at $2.333m, down 12% from the time of purchase – or twice the drop suggested by the start price now.

But what does the assessor's office know about home values in Manhattan Beach?

Out of the "nearby similar sales" of the past 6 months that Redfin shows on the listing page, perhaps the 2 most interesting are 2401 John (pictured, new, 5br/4ba, 3500 sq. ft., $2.275m) and 1821 Palm (4br/4ba, 3525 sq. ft., 20 y.o. & updated, $2.250m). Neither compares precisely, since they're on conventional lots with superior locations, and neither has the style of Elm, but those sale prices are suggestive.

Currently in escrow is 728 26th, a bigger (5br/5ba, 4700 sq. ft.) mid-90s, slightly grandiose corner-lot home last at $2.499m. If you were in escrow on that one, you might long for Elm with a tinge of buyer's remorse.

Can the sellers improve on the 6 months on market for the same home in 2007?

Can they hold the line at a 5% drop in price?

Plenty to watch.

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