South End Options Diverge

By Dave Fratello | March 4th, 2011
You can walk between the South End listings at 204 Morningside and 424 3rd in moments – they are less than a block apart.

But the space between them, pricewise, widened this week.

With a new price cut this week, just 3 weeks into the listing, 424 3rd (3br/2ba, 2200 sq. ft.) is trying to find its market. Maybe $1.8m wasn't going to float, but could $1.695m, or thereabouts, help find a buyer?

The home sports a pretty complete 2003 remodel that gave it a contemporary style. There's a lot hidden behind that alluring façade. Very sharp. (See our "Weekend Opens" review from a few weeks back.)

Now, there's an issue.

The 2nd floor is the master suite. It's very spacious with an extra-large, luxurious bath and extra patio space – good enough for a little indoor/outdoor room, not just a teeny balcony. (Small children are currently using it as a bit of a bedroom.) But that means the 1st floor has the other 2 bedrooms.

We hear all the time about how buyers with children look askance at layouts with the master on a separate floor from the kids. Sure, some families can cope with it, but everyone seems to know that this kind of layout limits the buyer pool. In any home with this liability, you start hearing talk about how the layout is perfect for families with teenagers, or adult children, or no children at all – young marrieds who don't know the difference, or empty-nesters.

If 3rd has a bit of a layout issue, at least it has a few "wow" factors, like that master, a snazzy kitchen, lots of skylights, plus an overall style that's very appealing.

The current owners certainly liked it – they paid $2.060m in Aug. 2006. Now in letting it go, they've conceded to at least a loss of $365k (-17%), and that's just at the current list. We think it will sell this year, it's just a matter of where the right line is for buyers.

204 Morningside (3br/3ba, 2280 sq. ft.) seems to be qualitatively a bigger challenge, but it's the higher-priced of these 2 properties, up at $1.895m.

We should quickly note that the lot is bigger – 3300 sq. ft. at Morningside, 2700 sq. ft. at 3rd – which would make the home more valuable, on one level, for starters.

Still, that's a premium price for a home that's less than perfect. It's got an up/down layout issue sort of like 3rd does – there are 2br together in an isolated lower level, branching off from a 2nd living room. For whatever reason, both bedrooms have glass doors.

Make these the kids' rooms and you really have the little ones totally out of the circulation of the main living spaces upstairs. Now, if you just read that and said, "Finally!," then maybe you should check it out. But we know this is a layout liability akin to that at 3rd, and probably more serious because the other rooms are so completely tucked away on their own floor.

There's another layout oddity that we mentioned in our "Sunday Opens" review last weekend, which is the location of the washer/dryer. Those are now in the kitchen, lined up with the counters and other appliances. (They're hidden from view in the listing pics – the laundry is under the window to the left.) If we've seen that before, we've forgotten.

Is Morningside cute? Why, yes. The lovely ladies accompanying MBC on our tour made this point. The 1940s-vintage home has been updated and spiffed up a lot over the years, and is nicely decorated.

They say you want to sell the wife on a home and hope the husband comes along. But don't think moms are going to miss the layout quirks here, either.

Morningside seems to have been a rental for some time, and that may be where it goes again if this listing turns out to be a toe-dip. Your blog author might have to make a lunch out of his keyboard if Morningside sells close to that start price.

We should say about both of the South End listings here that they share the advantage of a location in one of the quieter parts of town. They're each close to the beach and the local school and playing fields. It's not a bad walk to downtown MB or even to some South Hermosa attractions. Some of the other offerings in the area – depending on the time – will be townhomes or 3-story homes on half-lots, which might sell for $1.4m-$1.7m.

Both of these listings offer the advantage of a full lot and a flatter layout than a TH. Now, can they each find their level?

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