They've Got Plans

By Dave Fratello | February 28th, 2008
Sometimes you can get more than a house when you buy. You can also get someone else's ideas for how to make it better.

In a few cases with current listings, the seller is offering plans for a remodel or new construction as part of the deal.

2808 Manhattan Ave. is the newest entry. (Click address for details, including a satellite map, via Redfin; no pics yet.) For $1.799m you get a 2200-sq.-ft. lot, plus:
[P]lans for a 3,300 sqft single family home which includes 4 bedrooms, 4 baths, living room, formal dining room, recreation/media room, elevator & 3-car garage. Plans have been approved by the city.
It would appear the sellers were ready to build in a great part of town west of Highland, and just couldn't, or wouldn't, pull the trigger. A buyer could probably get from here to move-in day for $3m or so.

Would-be spec builders, beware: A new home just a couple doors down at 2816 Manhattan Ave. – a 2500 sq. ft. home on a 1750 sq. ft. lot – tried for $2.9m, and wound up selling for $2.55m last July after 9+ months on the market. Sure, west of Highland is great, but that doesn't mean people are writing blank checks to get in.

Plans that are somewhat less concrete than those city-approved plans on Manhattan Ave. are available to the purchaser of 305 Gull. This small duplex fronts Highland and is quite close to the challenged new home at 45th/Highland (4419 Highland). Take this little duplex for $1.049m and you can convert it back to an SFR or take advantage of this bonus:
Seller has conceptual plans for a two-bedroom two-bath addition for this 1,590 square foot corner lot.
We're assuming these "conceptual plans" are more valuable than a 30-minute chat over coffee about how you could some day push out over the parking area and get some more square footage. We're assuming that. It's our generous side.

Elsewhere, 626 Rosecrans was briefly the cheapest listing west of Sepulveda, at $799k. It was cheap because the house, while spiffy, was also tiny at 608 sq. ft., and the lot is small even for the Tree Section at 3625 sq. ft. Oh, and note the Rosecrans factor.

Still, 626 Rosecrans is in escrow now after just 33 days. Maybe one sweetener was the "plans for a large 2000sf addition," free to the buyer. Imagine that: for $1.3m-$1.5m or so, you can have a 2600 sq. ft. home on Rosecrans, if you take it all the way. Bargain... ?

Finally, as MBC noted in the recent Market Update, 3521 Elm is now on the market for the 3rd time in a year. First it was a "perfect starter home" at $1.3m, then it sold for $1.150m to a builder last Summer. Now it's back at $1.225m with "plans for a 3300 sq. ft. 5-bedroom Tuscan-style home."

This seems to be a clear case of a spec project that's been abandoned. Someone took a hard look. The calculation must have been something like this: Really, how many new Tuscans in marginal locations are going to be selling next year, and the year after that, for $2.3m?

Better to get out of it now and let the next person frame, emboss, embrace or dump those plans.

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