Quiet Walkstreets

By Dave Fratello | August 15th, 2008
If you know the charms of the South End, particularly the flat walkstreets, the utter lack of sales activity down there recently is baffling.

In mid-April, MBC noted that inventory was building on the flat walkstreets. (See "Options Grow on South End Walkstreets.") In the four months since then:
  • 1 sale
  • 3 quitters
  • 2 new listings & 1 returnee
The only sale was 408 6th, and that one took a fall – from $2.625m to $2.050m (-$575k/-22%), pretty close to lot value, though it was set to hit the rental market, last we heard.

New & Returning

500 7th (pictured) is on a corner lot on a street that MBC recently labeled one of MB's "Great Streets." There are 3br downstairs and one debatable "bedroom" (now a living area) off the kitchen and dining room; total 3100 sq. ft.

Pluses: Very high ceilings, bright rooms, roofdeck. Negs: 80s/90s feel, small kitchen, minimal outdoor space, too-open floorplan that needs more definition. Started at $3.195m; recently cut almost $200k to $2.999m. DOM: 72.

332 10th is near the max in square footage (4100+) and boasts great lineage and design, plus ocean views. It's a beauty, and also the highest-priced public offering in this submarket at $3.999m. DOM: 50.

532 6th is a surprisingly warm contemporary with 4br/4ba and 2700 sq. ft. It touches both the 6th St. walkstreet and Valley. It tried briefly in Nov. 2007 at $2.7m, then returned this year in June at $2.350m. It has cut again to $1.999m, just a bit over the March 2005 purchase price of $1.818m – a far cry from the 50% markup last year. DOM: 49.


528 6th is the neighbor of 532 6th, built by the same builder, but in a much harsher, more angular, contemporary design. The sellers tried for 5 months at $3.449m for this 4br/4ba, 3305 sq. ft. home, but never cut and decided to keep it late this Spring. (MBC revealed a controversy over the square footage in "Buyer, You'd Better Verify.")

316 10th is another harsh contemporary home, all steel and glass, this one on a corner lot bordering Crest. It offers 4br/5ba and 4350 sq. ft. Sellers tried for 8 months at $3.999m, no cuts, canceling late this Spring.

341 10th is, thankfully, not contemporary – it's got a great traditional feel and warm woodwork, cozy spaces, nice touches. Almost a quarter of its listed square footage (3150) is tied up in a much less improved rental unit attached in back. Began at $3.3m in March, trimmed $500k to $2.799m, but quit this week.

In sum, as Summer wraps up, we're pretty much where we were in the Spring on the South End flat walkstreets.

The other active listing in this submarket is 317 5th (pictured), a more moderate contemporary (circa 1993) on the alley corner at Crest, priced now at $3.1m. When it first hit in the Spring, MBC said it was "priced competitively at $3.2m," and, well, that seemed to be the conventional wisdom at the time.

At the time, we believed in the myth of long waiting lists to get into the South End.

We believed the area was one submarket that was going to hold its own because of its inherent desirability.

The market, however, is not reacting as we expected. Demand isn't there at these prices, and sellers are walking on their walkstreets rather than concede in a changing market.


UPDATE: Late Friday, about 16 hours after this story went up, 500 7th was posted as in escrow.

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