Tough Cases, Early Cuts

By Dave Fratello | January 11th, 2012
If your listing wasn't selling last year, keeping it on the market through the holidays amounts to a little plea with fate: "Please, let someone take notice."

Now it's January, you can almost see the Super Bowl from here, and you know that a rush of inventory (i.e., competition) awaits. It's time to make a play with a cut. Maybe that will draw some notice.

Here's a partial list of recent chops following that theme.

3617 Pacific (4-6br/5ba, 2800 sq. ft.) is a custom home, really different, but highly challenged by a location at the corner of busy Pacific and Rosecrans. When it debuted at $1.7m over 10 months ago, it seemed the sellers were more focused on the home's impressive features than its location – but that wasn't how buyers reacted.

In last February's review, while praising the home's "surprising... classy Spanish+modern vibe," we also said "[t]his one's got a long adventure ahead." That's certainly been true. With a new cut to $1.425m, it's becoming interesting. But what about the substantially bigger homes on Walnut near Rosecrans – location-challenged, too, but not like this – that just went for $1.340m (3525 Walnut) and $1.435m (3521 Walnut)? Still more adventure ahead on Pacific.

724 10th (8br/8ba, 7000 sq. ft.) in the Hills offers a giant, 10,500 sq. foot lot along a dropping slope, so that the views just open up to the south and west.

Problem is, there's a house on that lot in a Southwestern style that is a strikeout for most buyers, in condition the listing delicately says has "tremendous potential to upgrade," and the home largely fails to capitalize on the view potential of the lot – except for views from the 2 master bath showers (!) and the ladder-accessible roof.

This one launched in August at $5.690m and has just chopped to $4.895m, increasingly posing the question: What's the dirt worth?

1205 23rd St. (5br/5ba, 3500 sq. ft.) is a fairly large, newer (2002) home which has been vacant for 5 years due to messy litigation.

We warned potential buyers of the home's history, where a cloud on title had nixed a purchase attempt in 2007 and left the buyers homeless. (See "A Cloud Over 1205 23rd.")

The bank selling this home as an REO seems to understand that the stigma on the property requires a substantial discount over any comps. The most recent cut brings it to $1.299m, beckoning for some intrepid buyers to try their luck. We'll wish them luck, too – it can only go better this time than last.

222 Dianthus (3br/2ba, 2725 sq. ft.) actually had a deal post in November, but it didn't pan out. We've said of this one: "[it] is really not much as a home, a 60s original with some updates here and there, including a kitchen remodel that's less than 20 years old." The upside-down layout would be justified if the views were better, but regardless it's hard to see a master sharing its bath with the upstairs living spaces like you have here.

There's a history of overreaching at Dianthus: $2.399m in late 2007, $1.875m in 2011. The newest cut to $1.599m comes with a change to the description: "Seller wants offers." Don't all sellers? 

1623 6th (6br/4ba, 4950 sq. ft.) came out in mid-October, seeking buyers who want an embarrassment of space plus a yard and don't mind paying nearly $2m for a home that requires refreshing, even with the remodeling work the current owners have put in. (Mainly cherry wood-type flooring everywhere.)

1623 6th started at $1.859m, came down some to $1.779m and then drew a competitor: 1648 8th (5br/4ba, 4950 sq. ft.), literally the same house but without the updates, now at $1.424m. (See "Battle of the Giant 90s Homes.")

6th is still the better of the 2 thanks to the updates, but another hundred has come off it – now at $1.679m, a $250k premium for the difference in condition. Good luck with that.

Even Strand homes can have challenges, folks.

There's the 80s penthouse condo at 808 The Strand (3br/3ba, 2875 sq. ft.), which emerged in October at $4.9m to general – if polite – derision, but is now down $900k to $3.995m.

And 3308 The Strand (technically 3309 Ocean) has come all the way down to $5.9m after a start in March last year at $6.590m (it was re-listed in June).

This one seems to still be fighting the battle to be different from the most recent 5-ish Strand sales: 3112 The Strand, which went for $5.350m in August, and 2504 The Strand, sold for $5.150m in October.

Well, yes, it's different, but those sales are clearly a drag. Now that 3308 is in the fives, the question is how far down into the fives it goes.

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