The Plan Came Together

By Dave Fratello | July 29th, 2008
If you know who Mr. T is, you might recall that, in the early 1980s, he was part of an NBC series called "The A-Team." In the show, his boss, Hannibal (George Peppard), made famous a catchphrase that he used near the triumphant end of each show: "I love it when a plan comes together."

Now, the agent who recently sold Peter Brady's old house at 737 36th is no gruff old cigar-chomper – she really bears no resemblance to Peppard. But you can still imagine she may have felt the same sort of boastful satisfaction Peppard's character did and maybe, just maybe, said something like "I love it when a plan comes together" when multiple bids came in on the house last month.

Multiple bids might have seemed unlikely. Before June, 737 36th had been on the market for most of the last 2 1/2 years. (See "Peter Brady Sells, But His Old Home Won't Go" and "Surrender on 36th.") It was always badly overpriced. It had crept from $1.795m down to $1.538m before the seller, a realtor, punted and gave the listing to a prominent local agent.

The new agent's price was $1.299m, but that wasn't supposed to be the sale price. The goal was to spark a bidding war, pushing the price back up to whatever the market would bear.

It was a bold move. Could a stale and left-for-dead listing really become a sensation overnight? If the bidding war didn't materialize, would the seller even take offers at or below the new list price?

Alas, the move wasn't a big gamble, not from the new agent's perspective. She had just sold an East MB home that was listed at $1.299m and drew a dozen bids. Surely some of those bidders would be interested in a comparably sized home west of Sepulveda. (737 36th is pretty charming in its own right.) And there were plenty of sidelined buyers who would recognize the deal on 36th.

That was the plan, and that's exactly how it came together, with those multiple bids bringing the final sale price on 36th to $1.435m, where it closed last week.

That was a chop of $100k from its previous list price, -$350k/-20% off its start price, but $136k higher than the bait price that drew all the interest this time.

The closed price was also a decent $185k higher than the March 2005 purchase price. While that $500k+ payday sought by the seller never arrived, this one still wound up in the black: 15% over early 2005. There are a few resales still active on the market that aren't even asking 15% more than their 2005 purchase prices.

The whole episode at 36th proved to be a pretty nice trick. Underpricing other listings might work, too, drawing lots of interest and a deal. Or the plan might prove hard to repeat, kind of like Mr. T's early success.

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