I've had my eye on this Kenwood house for a while. My wife and I looked at it for ourselves and a client of mine also considered it. In both cases we thought the home was drop dead gorgeous and we were indeed tempted. But we both decided to take a pass.
The home is at 4401 S Berkeley Blvd in Kenwood and was originally built in 1893. It's a historic landmark that has 5500 square feet of space on a 30 x 115 foot lot. Here is the description from the MLS (see some of the photos below):
THIS MAGNIFICENT RENOVATION OF A HISTORIC LANDMARK MANSION IN NORTH KENWOOD HAS 5500 SQ FT OF SUN DRENCHED LIGHT & LUXURY. THE STUNNING 5 BEDROOM RESIDENCE HAS 5 FULL BATHS AND A POWDER ROOM, AN ENORMOUS LOWER LEVEL ENTERTAINMENT ROOM, AND UPPER LEVEL FAMILY ROOM WITH BALCONY ACCESS. THE BEAUTIFULLY MODERN EAT-IN KITCHEN, WITH HIGH-END APPLIANCES THAT INCLUDE A VIKING STOVE, HAS AN ADDITIONAL INVITING FAMILY ROOM.
HOUSE SHOWS BEAUTIFULLY. FULLY FURNISHED AND CAN SELL WITH FURNITURE. COME SHOW, YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT. ALL BRAND NEW MECHANICAL AND ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS, INCLUDING FIRE SPRINKLER SYSTEM AND ALARM. THIS REMARKABLE HOUSE IS PRICED TO SELL.
The home was originally put on the market in it's non-renovated state by Urban Search in December 2006 for $549,900. It had multiple price drops over the next 3 1/2 years! Finally the price was dropped from $280,000 to $150,000 on April 3, 2010 and was quickly bought by Belkis Muldoon , another agent at Urban Search, 9 days later. That's a little suspicious - big price drop, quickly snapped up by agent in same brokerage - but who knows. Belkis apparently has a lot of experience renovating homes and did an amazing job on this one. By February of this year she was ready to put it back on the market at $799,000, complete with the best professional staging I've ever seen. You can tell from the pictures. It made a huge difference and the home sold in 99 days for $715,000.
So why did my clients, my wife, and I decide to pass on the place? It had two drawbacks: 1) none of us were crazy about the neighborhood and 2) there was no garage. As for the garage, there was room in the back yard to build a garage but what wasn't immediately clear was whether or not you could get 2 cars into what could be built there - especially if something else got built behind the property (currently a vacant lot).
The economics of this transaction are rather interesting, BTW. Even if we assume that Belkis made no money on the transaction and had no transaction costs that would mean that her renovation costs were under $102/ sq ft. If she did make some money on the deal after transaction costs her renovation costs had to be significantly less than $102/ sq ft. So what really happened here?