Update on Two-Year Itchers

By Dave Fratello | February 12th, 2008
Now and then MBC checks in on the fates of listings in which the homes had been held by their owners for about 2 years.

The main benefit of tracking same-house sales like this over a relatively short period of time is to gauge the overall market's rate of appreciation. (Click to download the 1-page PDF of our tracking data.)

We started this series by noting that some sellers might get the "two-year itch" to sell in part because they would hope to grab their big tax-free profits and move up. (The gubmint allows up to $500k in home-sale profits to be tax-free for a couple who used a home as their primary residence for 24 months.) This phenomenon was pretty common in the 2002-06 period, and visible at times in 2007.

In MBC's most recent update (Oct. 2007), we had closed sales in which the appreciation ranged from 2%-25% for homes that were left as they were, and up to 61% for big-time remodels.

Since then, we've added only 2 sales to this list – both losses (5% at 3011 Elm, and 15% at 601 Larsson). That's a lot of itches not being scratched. (Click the graphic for a bigger view, or click here to download the 1-page PDF.)

Meanwhile, we've seen reduced ambitions by new sellers:
  • 1019 11th started just 3% above its July 2005 price;
  • 794 27th started 4% above its May 2006 price;
Given the giant hopes we used to see reflected in some resales' start prices, a trend now toward flat pricing is noteworthy. But let's not pretend that everyone got the memo.
  • 468 33rd started out at 26% above its May 2006 price;
  • 872 MBB began by asking 30% more than its Sept. 2005 price; and
  • 939 Duncan, after a big, big remodel, is asking for $3.895m, a jump of 54%.
Meanwhile, we've seen 4 two-year itchers cancel.

This data set gets more interesting as we have more entrants, but we still have very few sales to go by. Maybe that's part of the story, too.

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