Well, That's a Lot

By Dave Fratello | March 1st, 2012
There's a significant submarket around MB involving people who'd like to grab a plot of land for themselves and build the house they want.

With so little new construction in the pipeline, that's a natural place to go for buyers who don't find what they want on the open market.

829 17th
One of the priciest land sales to hit the market in the Tree Section recently is 829 17th St., newly up at $1.999m.

Yes, that's $2m for dirt.

It stands out if you think of land trades in the Trees as mostly being around $800k-$1.1m.

But this is very different from those.

The 8000 sq. ft. lot is nearly twice the size of a "standard" Tree Section lot (4400-4850 sq. ft.).  Add the scarcity factor – you don't see these oversize lots come up often – and the neighborhood pluses, and who knows where the value goes?

And if there's competition for a rare lot like this, watch out.

The neighborhood might be described as Martyrs-adjacent, being east of Pacific Ave. but just a bit. It's close to the school (yeah, really!) and a short walk to downtown. No doubt, the walkability factor here works in this property's favor.

And check out the neighbor.

835 17th
That's 835 17th, a 2006-built huge Spanish (5br/6ba, 5900 sq. ft.) that first sold for $4m, then resold in 2010 for $3.6m. (Did we mention 5900 sq. ft.?) It's got the same 8000 sq. ft. lot size.

With a fully developed lot going for that much, you can see where the sellers at 829 17th are getting their ideas about the lot value from.

They think a buyer will look ahead and see a $3.5m-$4m house on this modest plot of land some day. All you have to do is scrape the 1950s rancher and you are on your way.

Holding onto the rancher is another interesting prospect. It's listed at 5br/3ba and 2150 sq. ft. It needs updating across the board. As you know, we always cheer for the original homes rather than wanting every old place knocked down. If someone pays for the structure, up goes the price above whatever the land value is.

Now, do people ever pay $2m for land in the Trees?

Two oversize lots come to mind right away:

2920 Agnes is a whopping 10,800 sq. ft. corner lot over in the 700 block of 30th St. Two full years ago, it sold for $2.1m, and a new construction project is well under way there. They'll get a huge house plus a sunny yard on the south end of the lot.

743 29th adjoins 2920 Agnes, running along Agnes at 29th. It's a tad smaller at 8500 sq. ft. This double lot sold in June 2011 for $1.8m.

Those are in the same price range as 829 17th, though in locations that would probably be viewed as preferable. But that's in the eye of the buyer – what do you value first? Maybe the main liability of 829 17th is its proximity to Pacific Elementary – though some buyers will certainly love that. A parking lot and playground are right across the way. And 17th St. is a somewhat busy street through the area, for school and other purposes.

So the future of 829 17th will be interesting for all kinds of reasons – just one being what they can get for the dirt.


UPDATE: This story was updated slightly from its original version in response to some feedback.

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