Forget Statistics: 714 Duncan Loses 23% in 18 months

Catching up on the endless paper-work the other night, I came across that rare thing:  a property that sells twice in a relatively short time with no major renovations performed in the interim.

This “sales matching” technique is what the folks at Case-Shiller use to create their Indexes of property values across the country.  Part of the reason they can is that their indexes are generated for large Metropolitan Statistical Areas with lots of house sales.  And even so, they use a lot of fancy foot-work to “match up” properties.

So now comes 714 Duncan Street, a beautiful 2,000 sf view home on a steep hill with fantastic city views.  Listed at a disarming $1,195,000, it sold for $1,415,000 in January 2008.  That was pretty much the top of the market for Noe Valley.  (You can see the chart here.)

Fast-forward 18 months.  The same house sells for $1,095,000 in June 2009.   That’s a drop of  22.6%.  My analysis of all Noe Valley sales for the same period shows a drop of just under 25% for the same period.

There’s something of a “duh, so what” to this story.   But I’ve seen enough nay-sayers  (on other blogs, of course!) who argue that tracking statistical medians are meaningless that I thought it was worth posting this as a powerful—and sobering —  case to the contrary.

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