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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