Monday, July 30, 2007

Never give up the dream! (On Ben Ave.)

This is a really cute little house (click to enlarge image) that has been sitting on the market vacant for 252 days without a sale and counting. They say there are only three things that can interfere with the sale of a house: (1) condition; (2) location; and (3) price. So let's see if we can figure out which one it is, shall we?

"Condition" includes a lot of things. It's not just the aesthetics, it's the roof, a/c, paint, windows, electrical and plumbing. I have personally seen this house and can say that it is in move-in condition. It looks to me like it has a new electrical panel, new central air, new interior and exterior paint, a new bath, a newer roof, and a new kitchen (not a top of the line kitchen, but a very tasteful new kitchen). I would replace the louvered windows, but that is really a very minor change. In sum, I'm pretty sure condition is not the problem.

The location of this house is a bit of a mixed bag. I really like the neighborhood a lot. But, as you can see from the Zillow aerial photos, the house is, well, freeway close. That said, there is a sound wall with lots of trees so the noise is minimized and you can't see the freeway. Thus, I don't think the location is the real problem either. (You see where this is going, don't you?)

In my humble opinion, the only possible reason this house has not sold for nearly a year is ... waaaaait for it ... The Price! At $750k, this is the lowest-priced house in the neighborhood, but apparently not low enough. The records show that it was purchased for $650k a year ago, however, Zillow is currently estimating the house at $638k. It's not exactly confidence inspiring. I mean, you expect a really low Zestimate when the house hasn't changed hands in decades, but this house just sold a year ago. And even if you toss Zillow out the window all together, the MLS shows that right now you could buy a 1,600 sq. ft. 3 bed/2 bath on the edge of Sherman Oaks for that.

So that's what I'm dealing with day in and day out for the last six months. It's like the whole city was playing musical chairs, the music stopped, and certain people grabbed two, three or four chairs. Which left buyers like me standing around, scratching our heads, and wondering: "What the hell are you going to do with all those chairs?"

Note: This house went inactive and then came back up at the same price but with a new MLS #: F1724606.


Westside Bubble said...

You really don't want to live that close to a freeway, even if it does have a soundwall. You wouldn't use your yard, open your windows, or enjoy walking in the neighborhood for the background din. Not to mention the pollution you'd be breathing.

Here are some of my posts about "freeway close" Westside houses:

3208 Urban Ave., Santa Monica (s of I-10)
3011 Virginia Ave., Santa Monica (n of I-10)
1817 Warwick Ave., Santa Monica (n of I-10)
3735 Globe Ave., Mar Vista (w of I-405)

Kate said...

Hey there WB:

I get what you are saying, and I typically feel the same way. But I've walked through this neighborhood and the freeway is not too offensive here. Perhaps its the greater tree density in Studio City (relative to the listings you highlight) that makes the difference?

Houses very similar to this one (location wise, size wise) have sold at $685k in the first half of the year.

Anonymous said...

There was a recent report put out by UCLA about how living 500 yards or less from a freeway is damaging to young children. I don't remember all the details, poor lung development was one of the problems. I found that study very interetsing because there are very charming neighborhoods close to the freeway (Bel Air, Encinco, etc) where I never would have thought about pollution before. But now, as I house hunt, I'm very aware of yardage from the nearest freeway.

Having said that, if the location isn't great, then you have to drop the price to sweeten the deal. So whether it's location or price, it's still really price.


Anonymous said...

Prevailing wind direction also makes a big difference. I live RIGHT NEXT to the big new 405 soundwall and we don't hear a thing from inside the house or in the backyard. The front yard gets dusty pretty quickly (but that might be the ongoing construction) but the backyard is just fine.