Swamplot Price Adjuster: Sweet Home on Alabama

Is this house on W. Alabama in First Montrose Commons priced . . . too low?

Location: 409 W. Alabama St., First Montrose Commons
Details: 3-4 bedrooms, 4 1/2 baths; 2,558 sq. ft. on a 7,812-sq.-ft. lot
Price: $449,900
History: On the market for a month and a half. Price cut $50K a month ago.

“Why should this house be listed for more?” asks a Swamplot reader:

Because it is really large in square footage (2,558) and lot size (7,812 sf) and in addition to the main house, there is a nice carriage house in back that could be a home office, in-law quarters, rental apartment, or given that it’s Montrose, a nightclub or tattoo parlor (kidding). Although it’s been 10 years since it was updated, I think the updates have held up and stayed fairly current with today’s design trends as evidenced by the kitchen’s under-mount, double stainless sink, cooking island, granite, tile floors and tile backsplash with custom dark wood cabinetry and upgraded appliances included (looks to me). Master bath has tile and granite; one of the secondary baths looks like it could use some serious updating.

Custom paint throughout, looks like big closets, nice hardwood floors (some look better than others), lots of French doors and a bright and sunny interior make this home, in my opinion, the quintessential (non-bungalow) Montrose residence. And then there’s the added bonus of a wrought iron fenced and gated (not cheap) property on a very eclectic street. Who needs TV when you live on W. Alabama? Just sit on the porch and watch the street life. Nice landscaping, too.

What would be a better price?


I’d say this home should/could be listed for around $700K. Biz partner thinks there could be something ‘wrong’ that is not real obvious, like structural problems or flooding issues. Or, it may be just a victim of the current housing market.

But that $700K doesn’t stand up to the drive-by test. Our reader writes in later:

I actually drove by this home (409 W. Alabama) a couple of times . . . and I’d like to adjust my price increase. I will say its sales price could range from $575K to $625K. The lot is deep and narrow, not wide like I originally thought. I now believe that my first guesstimate of $700K was too high. But I maintain that it’s undervalued at its current listing of $449K.

Your take?

Swamplot Price Adjuster features properties readers think are priced too high or too low. Got a suggestion for a property? Email your nominations to Swamplot, and be sure to include a link to the listing or photos. Tell us about the property, and explain why you think it deserves a price adjustment. Then tell us what you think a better price would be. Unless requested otherwise, all submissions will be kept anonymous.

49 Comment

  • I wonder if the “Swamplot reader” is the realtor for the house. Why else would they try to talk up the sales price?

    In any event, although it does look like a reasonably nice house, I think $449K is still too high of a price by at least $50K.

  • This house is priced at $180/sq. foot, which is pretty close to where the market was 5 years ago for a nicely updated bungalow on an interior block. This one is on Alabama. In the 400 block. Very very close to halfway houses, Louisiana spur, Main Street, etc.

    I think the price looks just right.

    Plus, what’s with the blocked off doorway in the kitchen remodel? That is just wacko!

  • I agree with Karen about the not so great location on W. Alabama. If this house was a few blocks west on Sul Ross or Branard, the price would be attractive. Too busy of a stretch of W. Alabama and way too many sketchy people wandering around aimlessly at all hours of the day and night. I guess it would be great for the fearless, childless, and those not overly concerned with retaining worldly possessions.

  • Nope, I think this price is dead on. It was listed, oh, maybe 8 months ago for higher and no one bit then. It’s right on West Alabama and really would not work for residential – while it could be a good location for a business, given how close it is to the spur and those wacky pay-by-the-week apartments, I can’t imagine anything very high end going in there.

  • @LT: I still have it saved in my “My Homes” on ZipRealty from the last time around. Unfortunately I don’t have the price adjustment history from that time around (they clear it when the house goes inactive), but it was listed on 5/9/08 (a year ago) and ended up unsold at $600K before they pulled it off the market.

  • Good sleuthing, Googlemaster!

  • This house has actually been on the market for a total of 368 days. It was listed by two other agents previously. The home started at 659,000!! back in 12/2007. The last listing had it at 600,000 and now it’s at 449,900, a 150,000 drop in price. It will probably go lower before it sells considering the location. This is a great example of what effect overpricing can have on a listing. Good luck sellers!

  • The house is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it and it looks like it is less than $449,900.

  • The pictures are hiding a lot: What kind of shape is the guest house in? The kitchen is a major screw-up. Combined with the location, they need to drop the price another $75K and include a family pack of Remington 870s.

  • No, Random, I’m not a Realtor, just a real estate enthusiast/junkie like many Swamplotters. I personally don’t care what it sells for, but evidently by some of the price research shown above by jct, I’m not the only one who thought the price should be higher. And yes, the blocked kitchen door is whack. The wrought iron fence and gate help the privacy and security concerns, I think.

  • How does “the wrought iron fence and gate help the privacy and security concerns”?

    The fence is effectively see-through, and I don’t think that jumping the fence would be all that difficult. Personally, the fence seems more decorative than anything else.

  • Some see a bloked doorway from the kitchen. Others see a “serving bar” from the kitchen to the dining room.

  • Make that “blocked”.

  • Joe that’s what I call being an eternal optimist.

  • RP: It doesn’t seem as though I’ll write anything with which you’ll remotely agree. So let me propose a ‘pit-bull-with-purchase’ promotion to the seller(s). I love mine. Third one we’ve owned. Great with kids. Better than an alarm system. You love them, they love you.
    I’ll await your response on the evils of owning such a breed.

  • C’mon, now people, this neighborhood isn’t really that bad. I used to live on Garrott and always felt safe walking in the day/evening. Like any major urban area this part of town is best negotiated with caution at night. Anyway, I agree with Mike N that there are too many open questions about this house, and with others who have questioned the quality and wisdom of some of the updates. But a lot could be done by this house for someone who wants a bit of a mansion in an urban environment. And security can always be beefed up. So I think it’s a bit of a fixer-upper, in a weird way, and the price is about right. Of course it’s all academic to me since I’ll never be in the market for a half-mil fixer upper.

    Finally props to marketingwiz for the love of pits – best dogs EVER in the right hands.

  • Jessica – you’re right – I also used to live in this neighborhood and while we did have quite a few things stolen and had one menorable afternoon when two guys parked a stolen SUV in our driveway while they went to smoke crack in the back alley, we basically felt safe. If this house was located elsewhere in the neighborhood (like on Harold, Hawthorne, Marshall, Garrott, etc), I think it would go for higher – but sitting right on W. Alabama reduces the attractiveness considerably.

    And just for the record, you don’t need to pack heat to live in Montrose – you just need to have a decent amount of common sense, but New Yorkers have been saying that for years.

  • I am not unfamiliar with living in Montrose. I lived on Colquitt near Dunlavy in the 80’s, one block from Freaky Foods. If you’re a true Monstrosian, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Our duplex was burglarized numerous times, but the scariest incident happened when our downstairs neighbor was attacked and beaten to a PULP after a wacko crawled through her window (the reason I NEVER lived on the first floor). Fortunately, my roommate at the time was a nurse and was able to keep the neighbor from going into shock before the ambulance arrived. Montrose is an eclectic and dangerous place to live. Gotta keep your eyes open.

    Yes, Jessica, pitties are just the best, but ONLY in the right loving hands. You are correct.

  • Marketingwhiz – fair enough, but unless I misread your post, that was TWENTY years ago. Montrose has changed quite a bit since then. The same could be said for The Heights or Braes Heights – you couldn’t have paid me to live over near Stella Link 15 years ago and now it’s family central. Montrose is definitely ecletic, but dangerous? That seems a bit strong.

  • No misreading, yes it was 20 years ago and part of my point. I’ve got several friends still living there and although the Westheimer scene has diminished somewhat with no more lines of cars cruising the strip (Mary’s, yay!) and a more visible presence of police, we get approached to buy drugs and/or sex just by sitting at a stop sign. We laugh because my husband and I could not look more ‘outside the demographic’ for those types of sales if we tried. My Montrose buddies – gay and straight – report consistent crime, petty and violent and in fact do pack heat or have guard dogs, or both. Not much has changed, in my opinion.

  • Wow – that surprises me – we had a very different experience. I lived in the heart of Montrose from ’00 to ’08 and I didn’t need a gun and didn’t have a guard dog, unless you could my very old, grumpy lapdog who barked a lot and drove the neighbors nuts. We even raised kids there – and walked to school every day without being approached to buy drugs or other, ahem, services. To each their own, I suppose, but I would still recommend without reservation living in Montrose – if we hadn’t outgrown our house and needed a better public school option, we’d still be there.

  • Whoops – I meant “count” my old dog – not “could.”

  • i really would not consider colquitt near dunlavy a dangerous place today – not to say occasional car break-ins won’t happen – but the neighborhood there is very nice now.

  • to marketingwiz and jessica:

    Right hands? I guess ya’ll are the types who have the ability to control other living things at all times. Overconfidence is the hallmark of formerly “safe” pitbull owners because as we all know, pitbulls are perfectly safe in the “right hands” — right up to the moment they’re not. Even if ya’ll do possess the magical “right hands,” how do we know that? More importantly, how do you know that?

    Anyway, regarding the house, the market obviously thinks its overpriced — so I do to.

  • I’ve lived in very western part of Montrose for 3 years. The only problem we’ve had was a stolen ipod when my wife left her car door unlocked overnight.

    I’ve definitely never been approached about drugs or sex, and I walk all over the place. None of my other Montrose buddies ever have any problems, either…though the single exception was a friend who got held up at gunpoint one night somewhere near South Beach.

  • LOL at CV. It was only a matter of time. You’re too easy.

  • It must our gray hair and wrinkles that attract all the drug and sex offers. We’ll pick you up next Saturday, cruise with us. We’ve underestimated the seductive power of our middle-aged mystique.

  • Too easy indeed. If simply eliciting a response from a critic means that you win, then all hail marketingwiz, the clever winner! (You better not respond, lest I win)

  • I’ve lived near the Cherryhurst area for the past 10 years and the nuisance crimes such as graffiti, car burglaries, and random vandalism are the most common things I’ve seen. Walking the kids and/ or dog to the park over the years, I’ve run across plenty of used syringes, used condoms (“Son, that’s NOT a balloon!”), piles of human feces with accompanying soiled boxers or tube sock, and even a vibrator. The few times I’ve been propositioned has been by a psychotic twink hustler that hangs around outside of EJ’s. He should probably consult “marketingwiz” for a better opening line than, “Hey fat ass! I’ll let you do me for 20 bucks!”
    My wife’s fondest memory is the night some guy, standing on the sidewalk outside of our place, sang arias for 20+ minutes at 2:00am. You won’t get that in the Woodlands.

  • Well, OK, CV. After 30 years and 3 pit bulls, I’m still waiting to be attacked and mauled. Still waiting……tick, tick, tick, tick….and waiting…..nothing yet. He’s sleeping with a cat right now, surely he’ll maul us all later once he gets up. Gosh and that’s not to mention the entire neighborhood he could terrorize (if he were allowed out of his fenced back yard without a leash).

    Certainly with all of the personal experience you offered about the breed, you know much more than I and other responsible pit owners.

    You’ll be the first person I notify after we’re all mauled. Then I guess YOU can be the winner after all.

    Still waiting….damn that dog!

  • Wilf – that was hilarious – thanks for brightening my day!

    My favorite Montrose memory was the first year we moved in (2000) and I was out of town for Halloween. Thinking we would have a swarm of trick or treaters, I loaded up on candy, carved a few pumpkins, and left my husband with specific instructions on how much candy to give to each eager child. When I called him that night to ask how many trick or treaters we got, he responded, “Do two homeless guys and a transvestite count?” After that, I scaled down my candy purchases, though last year we did get enough legitimate trick or treaters to empty two full bags of Hershey’s minatures.

  • The “$700K Swamplot Reader” is either a realtor, a tax assessor, or a recent Bay Area transplant who has no earthly idea what things cost in the real world.

  • marketingwiz: its nice of you to think of informing me, but you probably won’t remember to. So send me your name so I can cross check it against the weekly mauling reports by pitbulls in Texas.

    On second thought, that’s kind of morbid. You’ll be fine. As you probably know from your 30 yr history, the mauling rate for pitbulls is somewhere south of 100%.

  • OMG, WILF, that is too funny! I had one call me names in front of my tween-age son after I refused to give him money. As a result, I did suggest to him that he work on his ‘sales pitch’ for a better return on investment. He may not have understood the full brunt of my sarcasm, but he did throw a soda can at me afterward so I sensed that he might have had some marketing expertise.

  • Yes, CV, I am magic, and I have the power to control animals with my magical tools of solid fencing and responsible ownership. [I promise not to say any more about dogs on this post, so fire away.]

    I’ve enjoyed everyone’s posts about living in this section of montrose. It occurred to me that when I went to HSPVA in the 90s I was not aware that this neighborhood had any whiff of a sketchy reputation. But we were all pretty blissed out on music and art and teenage hormones and stuff. The fact that it was so easy to score *insert illicit material here* should have clued us in.

  • Fortunately, CV, my pittie (nor the other two we successfully raised) ever read any of those statistics, so I’m not sure they know how they’re expected to behave. I’ll be sure to let them know how disappointed you are that they aren’t living up to their reputation.

    Maybe I can resurrect the other two and taunt them into mauling us. Obviously, statistics and not personal experience mean more to folks like you.

    Gosh, WEEKLY pit bull maulings, that is morbid. We are waaaay behind here. Got some catching up to do.

    Tick….tick….tick….still waiting for that first attack. Or, in the words of the pit bull, bite me.

  • Jessica: I guess that you have more faith in your “solid fencing and responsible ownership” than I do. Good luck.

    Marketingwiz: I love the “it won’t happen to me cause it hasn’t yet” defense as much as the next guy, but you don’t really expect your personal story of overconfident luck to carry the day, do you?

  • Thought I would chime in on the Pit Bull exchange, once upon a time I was walking my ex’s rescue mutt to the greenbelt and out from between two cars came a pit pull pulling the owner(on a leash) before I could even react the Pit had clamped on to Abby, I still remember the guy apologizing and saying ” he has never done this before”, true story that seems relevant.

  • Guess this momma pittie never read the APBT expected behavior memos either, considering she gladly allowed strangers to pick her up and eventually help deliver her twelve puppies in May. K-9 Companion Pet Services is located off of Highway 6 in case anyone suspects a concocted story.


  • I work along this stretch of Alabama. The traffic does fly along the street and there are several ‘off’ people who live and wander around. I have never had a problem. Several of the regular characters recognize me and wave when I walk to Paks. During our second week without power after Ike, we moved down here as it remained much more civilized and neighborly than our Spring Branch ‘burb!

  • You absolutely win, CV. You and your un-named resources for pit bull attacks are much more credible than the actual experiences of responsible PB owners. I bow to your all-knowing superiority. You must have had one take a chunk out of your common sense at some point in your life.

    I’ll give the PB thing ANOTHER 30 years. I’m sure my “overconfident luck” will have expired by then. Until that time, my family and I will continue to risk our lives with our THIRD loving, loyal and protective pit bull who also watches over 3 cats and a bearded dragon. He’s head of security at our house.

    Cross: I HATE to hear about your PB experience but I never allow my pittie to interact with strange dogs. If we see a strange dog coming at us when we’re walking him, we cross the street and avoid confrontation at all costs. We do not take chances, period.

    Oh, and a couple of other factors in our favor as responsible pit bull owners: we’re not related to Michael Vick and we’ve still got all our teeth.

  • What a week it’s been for digression on Swamplot. It is interesting to watch and participate in the evolution of some of these discussions, even when they take a slightly ridiculous turn. I guess when it comes down to it we all feel passionate about our homes, our neighborhoods, our communities, and the issues we rant about on this blog seem to stem from that passion. Can’t wait to see (and comment on) what’s next.

    PS Pit Bulls are AWESOME.

  • marketingwiz: You’re right! I was wrong about 1 attack a week — its much higher. Dogsbite.org says that 127 pitbull attacks happened nationwide in 85 days last year. Thats not limited to Texas, but oh well.

    Jessica: FYI — A study by the CDC (gov’t) says that 78% of dog bite fatalities occur on the owners property. One can only assume that the percentage holds for pit bulls. I’ll send you the study if you wish.

  • Here’s my 2 cents on the pit bull digression:
    Modern dogs evolved in service to people; the Owner is the Alpha.
    Few dog-owners take the time to establish this in the puppy’s developing, trusting mind, so any dog (pit-bull or poodle) is left to decide rules for itself, not for a human: Very dangerous in the case of a fighting dog specifically bred for strength, speed and awareness.

  • In order to tie it all together, I would put my money on the business proprieters in the area against the meanest pit bull y’all could come up with. We treat people kindly until given reason to do otherwise. We keep in touch with each other to protect the area and we do it under the ever increasing burden of skyrocketing commercial property taxes. I hope that none of you have to work harder to pay the city more so that they have more resources to fight against your success. Trust me – this very bad for our city.

  • I can pull statistics that prove that the majority of rapes are committed by men with a penis. Any animal possessing teeth has the potential to bite. I have 2 Italian Greyhounds and a border collie mix and give then the same respect I’ve given dogs from Pomeranians to mastiffs. They are first and foremost dogs who live in the moment and react to stimulus. It is my responsibility to make certain that reaction is appropriate. They do not sit around planning attacks and revenge the next time a certain situation comes up. That level of behavior is confined to humans.

    Movocelot is on the money. As soon as cross said “pulling the owner”, the conclusion was foregone. If a dog is pulling the owner, the dog has taken control of the situation.

    And I love the house and the neighborhood. Lived across from HSPVA for a few years in my early 20’s and would walk to Chapultepec’s at 1 in the morning.

  • I lived in one of the upper floor apartments at 230 W. Alabama for several years recently (and enjoyed it very much) and I’d say 400k-ish is about right for 409 W Alabama.

    Many comments have mentioned that it’s one block from Paks and two blocks from the Skylane apartments, but no one has yet mentioned the noise. 529 and 59 are very loud and getting louder every day. Memo to Harris County: there’s this stuff called asphalt. You should try it.

    Paks sold crack pipes and Skylane sold sex, and both items brought in the shady characters. Very entertaining from the safety of your upper-floor balcony. If you want boring there’s always Katy.

    I think the original pricing was based on speculation about rapid gentrification of the immediate area. The recession has brought that notion back down to earth, but it might not be a bad investment if you look 10 years ahead.

  • Apparently $449,900 wasn’t the right price either. It’s just been dropped another 50K to $399,900.

    For the record, I don’t have a problem with the neighborhood; I’m actually looking in this area. But not on W. Alabama!

    I think it would make a good location for a small business with slowish traffic, like a one- or two-man law office.