Options Grow on South End Walkstreets

By Dave Fratello | April 17th, 2008
Last November, we noted the dearth of listings of South End flat walkstreet homes during MBC's first several months. (See "6th Street is Turning Over.") Just 4 such walkstreet homes had come on the market by then, and one was so overpriced (404 10th) that it never seemed to catch a nibble before the listing ended.

The only 2 South End walkstreet homes that sold between March-November 2007 were on 6th St. And then, all in the space of a week, 3 more homes on 6th St. came out. As we said at the time:
Walkstreet homes don't come on the market much. It's said that if you want one, you're going to need to be patient – there's a growing list of folks waiting to pounce.
With the presumed pent-up demand for walkstreet homes, you had to like the chances for all 3 of those 6th St. listings to sell. But that is not what happened (as always, click any live address links to view pics & details of active listing via Redfin):
  • 532 6th, a newer, modern home on Valley, came on at $2.7m but hung around just a couple of weeks before quitting;
  • 528 6th (pictured), a newer, bigger modern home built at the same time as its neighbor, came on at $3.449m and has lingered since – 5 months, no price changes; and
  • 408 6th has fared the best, and the worst – apparently getting two offers – but it's still around today, and has taken big reductions (more on that one shortly).
Not only did those 6th St. homes fail to sell, now there are a few more South End walkstreet offerings:
  • 316 10th (pictured), an extreme modern home on the alley corner (at Crest), asking $3.999m and now 200+ DOM with no price cuts so far;
  • 317 5th, a more moderate contemporary (circa 1993) of comparable size, also on the alley corner at Crest, priced competitively at $3.2m, just a week on market; and
  • 341 10th, a warm, classy beach home remodel with a quirk: almost a quarter of its listed square footage (3150) is tied up in a rental unit – currently asking $3.195m after a month.
All that pent-up demand seems to be remaining pent-up, but it can't last, right?

One of these homes is not like the others, and it's 408 6th. Of all the listings mentioned here, it's just 1 of 2 that are situated mid-block on flat walkstreets – potentially one of the best kinds of locations to enjoy the full walkstreet lifestyle.

It's also not a newer home like the rest. 408 6th is a compromised remodel. The original build date is given as 1977, and that won't surprise anyone. The home has been tweaked and improved and modernized in parts – particularly the kitchen – but it's still chaotic and strange.

You get the sense that people have lived in the home and loved it, particularly the true "outdoor room" off the 1st-floor living room. But the layout is a real challenge. There are 2 dark bedrooms downstairs that face the walkstreet – behind a tall fence – where, by rights, there ought to be a living space that opens to the walkstreet. The master is a minor disaster, a dark, cramped space with a bath that cries out for updating (maybe ditching the horrid wallpaper would help).

In those heady days last year, 408 6th began at $2.625m, reflecting the idea that scarcity would command a higher price. The first $125k came off after less than a month. Twice, the property went into escrow at $2.495m. When it returned from the second (apparently failed) escrow in mid-February, another $150k came off, and it was at $2.340m.

This month, the property dropped first to $2.249m and then, quite suddenly, to $2.099m. (There was also a bogus re-list this week. Should we cut them some slack since they're now down 20%?!?)

Let's be honest, the property is now rapidly approaching lot value.

Down 6th St. a bit further, at the corner with Ingleside, you'll find a home under construction at 440 6th. That lot was offered publicly at $1.9m last July, and sold for more – $2.050m.

So, $2m for a livable home or a lot on a flat walkstreet seems reasonable these days. Just like $1m seemed reasonable when the current owners picked it up in Summer 2001 (for $1.050m).

Our prediction: The South End walkstreet drought ends soon. Tossup: 408 6th or 317 5th.

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