MB Market Update for 10/31/07

By Dave Fratello | November 7th, 2007
The new MB Market Update spreadsheets are available for download by clicking here, or by using the link at the upper-right corner of the main MBC page. Information in this update closed Oct. 31. This and older updates are archived at our data-dump/sister site here.

Total SFR inventory west of Sepulveda was at 79 on Oct. 31, +1 from the middle of the month.

In the second half of October, there were 3 sales (new escrows) of SFRs listed on the MLS. (In our subject region west of Sepulveda.) This was down from 10 in the first half of the month, as noted in our last report. One of those new escrows failed in the second half of the month (225 Moonstone), putting our total SFR sales for October at 12.

Of the new sales, 1 was a new listing – on Oak, no less. Another was the longest-running listing west of Sepulveda at 540 True DOM.

Let’s look at our region by section:

Hill Section

There are 10 active SFRs.

Our huge headline from the Hills is that 844 11th is finally in escrow. This peculiar, giant, ultramodern remodel sat for 540 days. After beginning at $3.175m, the price dropped nearly $500k to $2.695m, where it stopped. But a willing buyer was found – it takes only one. We’ll see later how hard a bargain they drove.

There’s one new listing, 222 Dianthus (click for details), a 3br/2ba, 2800 sq. ft. remodel on a smallish 5500 sq. ft. lot. We are just a bit surprised to see the price at $2.499m for a house with some rough edges, and an exterior apparently unworthy of photography – to judge by the listing. (Sellers paid $945k in late 2000.) For our $2.5m or so, in the Hills, we’re all over larger, lovelier 916 9th (pictured) instead.

There was no other action among active listings, but we did get a few final sale prices:
  • 512 John came in at $3.8m, after starting at $4.449m and jumping, at one point, to $4.75m (strange but true). So we’re not sure whether to measure the $650k drop (-15%) from initial asking, or the $950k drop from the most absurd heights once reached. We always thought John was a great house, just a bad bet by the builder/buyer who acquired it in February for $4.075m and later lost a shirt and pants unloading it.
  • 1012 Pacific (see MBC's story), a giant lot (12,000 sq. ft.) sold for $300k less (-8%) than its list price, despite a quick sale (17 DOM). But that’s still $3.5m for a lot. On Pacific. A block from MBB. We know the new owners will be very happy.
  • 513 N. Dianthus closed quickly, and got above asking at $1.65m (list: $1.589m).

Sand Section

There are 20 active SFRs.

It ain't summer anymore. This region, which has been among the hottest for months, slowed considerably in October.

We have no new listings this period – meaning we saw just one new Sand Section SFR come on in October – but one old friend did come back. One of the least expensive listings in the area, 225 Moonstone ($1.295m) returned after a second failed escrow since its July start.

We also had no new sales among SFRs in the Sand.

One sale closed – 220 16th, right close to the beach and downtown. They got $2.875m, after asking $2.999m.

Three homes reduced their prices, including:

4419 Highland, sometimes the “Gateway to Manhattan Beach” and others the “Times Square of the South Bay,” lost the original selling agent, and with the new one got staged and got a new price$1.499m. This one is down just $196k from the absurd start at $1.695m for an oddly shaped, incredibly poorly located home.

225 39th, what seems to be a flip destined to flop, dropped again, quickly to $1.599m, just $4k more than the purchase price this June. So quickly do fortunes evaporate.

One listing canceled: a rebuild under way at 320 Rosecrans, nearly complete now, and still next door to, and uphill from, the local taco stand. Since it’s going to be a duplex, we had taken to calling it “The Inn at El Tarasco.” It’ll be back.

Tree Section

There are 49 active SFRs. Of these, 21 are priced below $2m, and 28 are above $2m.

Of all the 3 sales west of Sepulveda in this report, 2 happened in the <$2m range in the Trees. One was 2615 Valley, an awkward home with a plus remodel in a minus location, last at $1.599m (began at $1.799m).

The other sale was on Oak, and a quickie at that, if you can believe it. (Oak!?!) 1725 Oak (4br/5ba, 3100 sq. ft.) came on at $1.979m. The deal is, this was a true beaut, a must-have custom home. Lesson: That’ll overcome location, sometimes. Based on tax records, the sellers appear to have paid about $1m three years ago; if true, that’s nearly $1m in profit – nice.

The big story in the Trees this period was the mad rush to cut prices among new construction in the $2m+ range (and resales in the price range). As MBC noted late in the month, several listings seemed quickly to be headed for $2.1m or so, despite starting higher – sometimes considerably so.

You need only see this graphic, drawn from the market update, in which boldface prices indicate cuts since our mid-month report, to see how competing listings are starting to act, well, competitively.

The characters in this list are almost too many to mention. Which is more compelling?

  • The lovely new construction at 2807 Elm (pictured, again, 'cause we love it) that is down $600k in 4 months (now $2.299m), making everyone below look like terrible bargains.
  • The one-year-plus-on-market new home that seems headed for liquidation: 2709 Oak ($2.195m);
  • The uninspired, challenged, all-but-forgotten new home at 2612 Poinsettia that’s now $2.250m after its first real cut; or
  • The “Queer Eye”/free-Mercedes home (1313 Oak) with the delusional owners who paid $1.525m in Dec. 2004, and have variously sought $2.8m and $2.5m, and now are down to $2.199m, oh, and now they’re “MOTIVATED.”
You see, it’s no easy choice, now that the $2m+ range is, at least, getting interesting.

New to the market below $2m are two homes:
  • 1408 Poinsettia came in on Halloween, but it’s not scary, a 7-year-old charmer across from the soccer field at Pacific School, at $1.799m – sellers paid $1.043m new in 2000.
Also, Peter Brady’s old house in the Trees (737 36th) is back after a failed escrow that began in mid-September (see MBC’s story on this one).

A few other price cuts worth noting: 637 13th, a big remodel project – at best – on a teeny lot, is down $230k now to $1.355m (seller paid $1.1m in Nov. '05); 2413 Elm, a nice, large home near Marine with an 80s feel, is down to $1.625m (-$174k); and a terrible, small, older home at 1732 Pine is at $1.175m ($-120k), approaching lot value.

Two sales closed in the Tree Section: one of 3 new homes in the 600 block of 15th Street by American Martyrs, 608 15th, closed for $4.2m (this was pre-sold and just hit the MLS); and 754 14th, an Arbolado Court home that was priced to move (see “Aggression Pays”) and closed for a bit less than asking at $1.665m, leading MBC to speculate about ripple effects of this sale on others left on the market (see “Shaking the Trees.”)

Finally, we said goodbye to three listings, including 2105 Oak, new construction last at $2.099m (-$250k from start), which canceled but may just be awaiting a change in agents.

And so long, at least for now, to 1829 Poinsettia, a small but tricked-out cottage in a nice location that tried to shoot the moon when it started in mid-May, seeking $1.785m. The sellers tempered their ambitions by dropping to $1.599m, but that didn't work, either. Perhaps they're just going to hibernate a while and come back. We hope they get themselves a stove in the meantime; eating out all the time is expensive.

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