A Year and Out

By Dave Fratello | October 3rd, 2007
For all the stress and trouble and money you put into buying a house, you'd think the goal would be to stay longer than a year. And of course, for most people, it is.

But things happen, and the same home can wind up on the market rather shortly after someone has moved in.

Today's market is not going to smile on the short-term owner. The only question is how bad the damage will be.

Our newest entrants in the one-year-and-out sweepstakes are 2509 Poinsettia (click for details via Redfin) and 3309 Pacific, both new this week.

Poinsettia was purchased in April 2006 for $1.980m. It's on offer for $1.999m now. A sale at that price translates to a loss of $80k, with 5% cost of sale.

It's a nice enough home, newer – meaning, in this case, 1998 construction. The home's sale history offers us a window on the boom years:
  • 1/29/1999: $900k
  • 5/31/2002: $1.270m
  • 4/6/2006: $1.980m
You can imagine that, given the short holding period, the seller will be willing to negotiate and take less, which would be an interesting reversal in the home's paper fortunes.

Meanwhile, 3309 Pacific is an odd home with a location challenge, and a couple of pluses. It's big, 3500 sq. ft., and very early-80s in vibe. It was first listed around Summer 2005 at $1.799m, but it dropped to $1.599m, where it sold in early 2006. (As it happens, we can't find a definitive record of the sale price, but our notes from way-back say $1.599m on March 15, 2006.)

Pacific is now up for $1.590m. If we're right that it sold for $1.599m last year, that's a loss of $88k, at 5% cost of sale.

In recent weeks, we saw a one-year owner make a little profit. Someone bought little 3528 Poinsettia for $1.1m in June 2006 after a big remodel. It came back this Summer, and closed for $1.260m in Aug. 2007, most likely netting the sellers a profit near $100k (taxable!).

And then there are our perennial sad-sacks on MBC: the townhome at 714 MBB and the Arbolado Ct. offering at 758 14th (click here for one of MBC's more recent stories).

The MBB TH was purchased for $1.355m in April '06, currently listed at $1.199m, with a possible loss of $228k at 6% cost of sale.

It keeps getting worse for 758 14th, purchased in July '06 for $1.695m, and listed since March 1, now at $1.699m. Now another neighbor, this time 754 14th, is up at $1k less, with more square footage and much better updates. Uh-oh, the losses for 758 could be substantial. And to think, they began with hopes of a real profit (initial list: $1.990m). This won't end well.

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