MB Market Update for 3/15/09, Hills

By Dave Fratello | March 19th, 2009
Let's try to get back to the old format a bit here and discuss recent market activity section-by-section.

As we noted yesterday, the new MB Market Update spreadsheets are available for download by clicking here, or at any time using the link in the upper-right corner of the page. Information in this update closed March 15.

First, a word on inventory. Another update, another record, of course – everyone saw that coming. But this round the bump wasn't much – just 3 over the end-of-February total, now at 148 SFRs west of Sepulveda. That figure is up from 90 at the same point in 2008 (+64%). Inventory broke down this way by sub-region:
Hill: 37
Sand: 57
Trees: 54
Overall stats for this 2-week period: 16 new listings, 7 sales (new escrows) and 3 cancellations. All figures close to the data from last year (17/8/3), as we see in last year's mid-March update.

Let's look at the Hill Section in greater depth today.

Inventory of 37 is a big jump over 13 at the same point last year (+185% if you find that figure useful). This is starting to be a problem.

Luxury and scarcity used to be the rules in the Hills. Now, not so much scarcity.

Here's how that happens, in microcosm: In the first half of the month, 6 new listings hit the market in the Hill Section, 5 of them above $2.8m. But just one deal was made, that on The Georgian (755 11th), priced a bit below $2.8m.

We see just 4 sales of Hill Section properties priced over $2.8m over the past 6 months, and just 4 more if we extend back a full year.

If you did the math there, you see there have been 8 sales above $2.8m in one year, and we just added 5 more to the market in 2 weeks. There are now 28 Hill Section listings priced from $2.8m-$10m, with most – 15 homes – in the narrower range of $3.5m-$6m.

Someone ought to ring a bell or something. A buyer's market already exists, or is about to break out, in MB's prestige high-end Hill Section.

So who's trying to get attention these days? Here are all the new listings, in price order:
  • 509 Dianthus (3br/3ba, 2250 sq. ft.) is the neighbor of 511 Dianthus, which quit the market and rented out in this 2-week period after 300+ days without a sale. 509 is a mid-60s home that has been completely redone and resembles some newer construction. Starts at $1.350m.
  • 881 10th (5br/6ba, 4000 sq. ft.) is a big custom home labeled "French" in style, perhaps thanks to the distinctive turret entry. Great kitchen and study. The corner location on Poinsettia may be a turnoff for some, as would the lack of a real yard on this 6000 sq. ft. lot. Sellers paid $2.8m new in April 2006 and seek $2.889m now.
  • 201 Larsson (3br/4ba, 3900 sq. ft.) is literally at the top of the hill, and sports some good views as a result. MBC teased it in a "Weekend Opens" story and called some of the updates "a bit, well, dated – more 'Miami Vice' than 21st-century MB." A commenter called it a "bachelor pad" and "[n]ot so great for families." Starts at $3.299m.
  • 877 8th (6br/6ba, 5000 sq. ft.) is a short-term hold, a newer home (2007) purchased for $3.650m in Sept. 2007, hitting the market this year at $3.599m and down already to $3.399m.
  • 502 Anderson (5br/6ba, 4150 sq. ft.) is a bit of a landmark on Anderson if you've ever passed – a completely charming, traditional exterior with an large, well-manicured pine dominating the front. Nice back yard, too. Home is just 5 years old. Starts at $3.595m.
  • 100 S. Dianthus (7br/7ba, 6325 sq. ft.) is the most elegant and pricey of the bunch here, a high-up corner-lot home with big views. The home is built around a courtyard with pool and spa. Sellers paid almost $3m in a different era, back in 1999. Starts at $6.299m now.
There were several noteworthy price cuts during this period among existing listings.

MBC detailed the $2m drops on 218 N. Dianthus (now $4.695m) and 511 Pacific (now $5.995m) last week. Also:
  • 516 Ardmore (2br/2ba, 1125 sq. ft.) canceled and went FSBO, dropping to $995k, down from its $1.5m start last July;
  • 301 Anderson (3br/3ba, 2450 sq. ft.) dropped twice (and pulled a bogus re-list) to get below its $1.9m acquisition price (Feb. '06) to $1.799m; and
  • 1026 Duncan (5br/6ba, 4000 sq. ft.) dropped to $3.175m, still well above the March 2005 price of $2.5m.
On a final note, we caught 2 closed sales in this period. One was a small home at 1102 Ardmore (2br/1ba, 1150 sq. ft.) that barely made an impression around here – sold within several weeks for $850k.

Making a much larger impression was 612 11th, the flag lot home we labeled a "Spring Rally Casualty" (from 2007) after the would-be flipper lost $250k in unloading it for $1.024m.

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