PPSF in the Trees, Q1-Q3 '11

By Dave Fratello | October 21st, 2011
Wow, run a few numbers, and suddenly everyone's got an opinion.

Most of what your blog author heard in response to yesterday's post on Sand Section PPSF was personal and not posted here on the site (i.e., confidential), but it's fair to say that opinion was polarized.

One reaction: Thanks for the info. Give me more.

The other: PPSF is the most irrelevant data point, why are you wasting our time?

At risk of wasting more time, we've poured a little more of our own time into looking at Tree Section PPSF for this year's sales.

As before, this seems like a useful indicator of the general flow of things before you start adjusting for location, recognizing the impact of lot size, location, etc.

As you'll see in our new chart, the middle ground in the Trees hovers near $600/PSF.

Specifically, the median PPSF for Tree Section homes for the first 3 quarters of 2011 was $584/PSF.

That's a notable 26% lower than the median PPSF for the Sand Section ($787/PSF).

Is it hard to imagine that you pay 25% more in MB to live in spittin' distance of the beach?

Not really.

In fact, it's kind of nice to put a number on that premium: 25%. OK.

In calculating median and average PPSFs for the Trees, we did much the same kind of surgery to the raw data before punching out this little chart. We're glad to note that there were no duplicates, so we just had to cut out the land and land-value sales. We cut out 6 this time (3608 Maple, 2610 Maple, 1605 Pine, 2600 Pine, 1900 Palm, 743 29th and 617 15th).

It's intriguing to see the top PPSFs for the Trees, all south of Valley, but one doesn't look like the others.

513 17th (3br/3ba, 1700 sq. ft.) took top honors for the first 3 quarters of 2011, on account of its smallish size and prime location in the Martyrs neighborhood.

We called it an "inspired remodel on one of the great blocks in the Martyrs area," one that "screams 'beach cottage' with high style," but that's still one small house in the scheme of things. (The lot's 5200 sq. ft.)

The sale at $1.919m in March put the PPSF at an astonishing $1,129/PSF, a severe anomaly that pretty much tells you that the land was more valuable than any part of the structure.

The silver medalist just doesn't seem to fit at all. That's little 3521 Pacific (2br/1ba, 798 sq. ft.), a stone's throw from the refinery.  When it sold for $795k, with such little official square footage, it calculated out at beach-adjacent rates: $996/PSF. No one could officially include the substantial little bonus space out back, which would have nudged down that PPSF figure.

533 15th (6br/6ba, 5300 sq. ft.) was a cut below those 2 by the PPSF measure, but by other metrics it was grandiose. It's the highest-priced Tree Section sale of the year – and maybe in the history of the MB Trees.

Again, it's a Martyrs neighborhood sale. And again, land is a big factor – that huge (7700 sq. ft.) lot on Martyrs Hill affords major ocean views. Add a near-perfect beach house that wonderfully and memorably makes use of that lot, and of course you have a winner.

With a sale price of $4.7m (yikes!) and a PPSF of $887/PSF, that's not bad for a bronze medalist.

Carving out the low end of PPSFs for the Trees was another Martyrs-region home, 700 13th, officially 7br/5ba and over 3100 square feet. This one had been built out and added onto higgledy-piggledy. We noted in one review that "around every corner, there's a staircase and some kind of bedroom." It was a project house and the new owners have tackled that with a big remodel.

With a sale at $1.300m, 13th had a PPSF of just $415/PSF, lowest for the year.

Near that low was 2818 Ardmore (5br/5ba, 3500 sq. ft.), a big, newer (2001) home that came up as a short sale.

With a close at $1.470m divided by all that square footage, you see a PPSF of $418/PSF.

And which sales were the closest to, or at, the median PPSF?

One that's very close is 1816 Palm (5br/4ba, 3800 sq. ft.), a somewhat newer (2000) custom build that's 10-20% bigger than most of the last decade's construction, and on one of the great, quiet, prestige blocks in the Trees.

The sale at $2.181m put the PPSF at $582/PSF.

The sale right at the median was 3403 Laurel (6br/4ba, 3600 sq. ft.), a charmer on a (non-splittable) double lot that closed at $2.111m, a PPSF of $584/PSF, the median.

This one shows the perils of using PPSF once again, because the extra land was such a big part of the price paid, while the home's interior needs a lot of attention in some rooms.

With our diverse housing stock – fully on display here in just a sampling from the Trees – there's no such thing as "average."

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