Monday, April 1st, 2013
In an extraordinary joint action announced this morning, real estate agents working in Manhattan Beach have declared a weeklong moratorium on writing, or receiving, offers on properties listed for sale.
It's an effort to restore balance in a market that has seen pent-up demand and low inventory for too long, some say.
"This is the craziest market I've experienced," said one local pro who's helped clients buy and sell Manhattan Beach real estate for over 30 years. "I've been through all the ups and downs. What I see now is crazy. We have to step in and calm everyone down."
Bidding wars have become the norm in Manhattan Beach over the past 18 months, and prices are starting to get out of hand.
The thinking behind the moratorium is that inventory should be allowed to build up, giving buyers a clearer sense of choices before they dive headlong into the next bidding war. With choices, perhaps the market will calm slightly.
Last week, 21 new listings emerged in Manhattan Beach, but 24 listings went into escrow, thereby reducing inventory over the period.
The unprecedented joint action has been under discussion for weeks. It's not easy to get the real estate community to act as one. But the severity of the crisis developing in local real estate seems to have pushed major brokerages to take action. Eventually, all the local players came to agreement, provided that the moratorium can be enforced.
The basic rule is this: Listing agents will discourage offers for a week beginning April 1st. If they receive one, they will "lose" it in their "spam" email boxes or "misplace" any faxes or printouts they receive.
No agent representing a buyer looking at a Manhattan Beach property will draft an offer for a client, citing the moratorium.
Any agents who attempt to breach the moratorium will be publicly shamed in a full-page ad in the Beach Reporter.
MBC caught up with one agent who led the way on the moratorium.
In a phone interview from a poolside in Cabo San Lucas, the agent explained, "This is the perfect time for a moratorium. Yes, the market's too crazy. Also, I'm in Cabo. Really, everyone's out of town. You think I want to be working on my computer in a hotel room? I'm going windsurfing. The offers can wait a few days. People should just freaking chill, and enjoy April 1st."
No word yet on whether the moratorium might spread to other markets during their Spring Break weeks.
Saturday, March 30th, 2013
It's Easter Weekend, with many fewer open houses to see, but we wouldn't suggest that our market is "slowing down" for this "break."
There were 21 new listings in this past week in Manhattan Beach. It feels like a mad rush, as sellers see the opportunity in front of them.
But we also count 24 new deals (newly posted escrows) over the same period.
You could say things are hoppin'.
But that would be a cliché. (Sorry.)
Inventory is actually down despite the new listings, to 42 total SFRs and THs around all parts of Manhattan Beach. Yikes. (That was as of Friday night. More listings are posting this weekend.)
One surprise among the open houses: A home complete with massive workshop, a place to build or fix your own boat, car(s) or motor home. Read on to figure out which.
One open house that's on the list, but canceled, is 2507 N. Valley Dr. – Dave's listing, which sold quickly this past week.
To plan your weekend open-house tours, try this Redfin map list of open houses – sort by price or sub-region of MB by clicking the title on a column.
Or click here for the new-format Beach Reporter list of opens.
610 Rosecrans (4br/4ba, 1800 sq. ft.) is an intense modern showpiece, a wide-open, airy space with high-end finishes and an L.A./Venice or Euro vibe. It is certainly the best house we've ever seen on Rosecrans, and threatens to redefine what's possible on that oft-forgotten stretch of street.
There is nothing about this stunning new place that reminds you of Manhattan Beach. Not the old teeny cottages on the finger-shaped lots along Rosecrans. Not the remodels you see along the block. And not the other parts of the Sand or Tree Sections – you just don't see a squared-off, bright, high-end modern like this nearly anywhere.
Venice. We keep thinking "Venice." You see these everywhere in Venice.
Curiously, this one still sports its 1959 build date – perhaps something of the old beach shack remained before this remodel, but we didn't see it in the footprint of the house at all.
The design takes advantage of the front yard along Rosecrans to create a huge, wide-open great room connecting almost seamlessly to the outdoor spaces. They've staged it with a dining area outside, and why not? And none of that fussy grass and dirt – the patio is mean as living space, entertaining space, and is designed as such, with a little burbling fountain and lots of outdoor seating, even mood lighting for the evenings.
The kitchen is tricked out with a modern, European gloss that misses no detail. You could be in a penthouse somewhere, not Rosecrans, MB.
The secondary (kids') bedrooms along the hallway back are "just enough" sized, beachy in that respect, with a jack-and-jill bath. The master suite in back seems huge, with very high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows, a big bath and closets.
Downstairs, outside, there's a separate entrance to a small room, with closet and snazzy bath, which counts as the 4th bedroom. It's got no future as a bootleg rental, but probably would serve nicely as an office/getaway space or occasional-use guest suite.
Here's what they're asking for the best little home on Rosecrans: $1.399M.
Sales comps up and down the block, including similarly sized or slightly larger homes, go into the $1.1-$1.2M range, but for very different places.
They're looking to establish a new standard here for a home with this notable location challenge, and the smaller lot sizes that come with Rosecrans (3625 sq. ft. in this case). If you're going to build to the nines on Rosecrans, Spring 2013 looks like the best time to try to make the sale.
Disclosure: We've toured 610 Rosecrans for a client.
610 Rosecrans starts at $1.399M and is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.
2904 Highland (3br/4ba, 2300 sq. ft.) is a newer ocean-view TH with lots of bells and whistles, including a great room with big ocean views.
Did we mention ocean views? Yes, yes, yes. The listing boldly declares them to be "[a]bsolutely insane ocean views." Well, this market is getting insane, why shouldn't the views be insane, too?
Sometimes being on Highland has its privileges.
The townhome itself has familiar qualities for newer construction (2007). Dark hardwood floors, high-quality kitchen, very nice baths and – increasingly a must-have item in 3-story homes – an elevator.
The 2300 sq. ft. listed for the living space is quite a bit more than the typical 1700-1800 you'll find in other THs. You feel that extra space mainly the wide-open great room on the top floor. The master is also spacious and gets some views, though we can't call the secondary bedrooms especially large.
Did we mention the views?
Parking is listed as 2 garage spaces and 4 total, which includes a covered carport area and, no doubt, a slot in the driveway. That's pretty important given the difficulty of parking along Highland. It's the beach.
2904 Highland was purchased new in June 2007 for $2.0M. These days, we're not supposed to be surprised when people ask 20% more than a bubble-year acquisition price.
2904 Highland starts at $2.399M and is open Sat. 1-4pm.
449 34th (3br/3ba, 3000 sq. ft.) has the shell of a 1970s house – and some artifacts of that – with a series of remodels also having changed the style of the home along the way, though never completely.
The exterior shows with a contemporary flair, but right inside, the 1970s fireplace brick betrays the vintage of the underlying home. If you enter off the side of the house instead of through the big open living room doors at the front, you feel the age of the home in the glass panels and old wooden entry door, quirkily painted blue.
The kitchen features white appliances and a white cooktop, along with clean "contemporary" cabinets that still date the room to the early 90s or so.
Happily, the master is of good size (with 2 closets), the master bath feels somewhat current – the remodels only a bit out of step from 21st-century tastes – and the balance of the living areas upstairs is pretty decent, with 2 true bedrooms, one very big, and a separate room, now a gym, that could be a bonus room or 4th bedroom in a pinch.
This is a decent plateau location, a reasonably large home with some style, but also one where we can imagine buyers wanting to dial up the level of the remodel with another sweep through.
449 34th starts at $1.899M and is open Sun. 2-4pm.
1731 Mathews (3br/3ba, 3370 sq. ft.) does something we've never seen on an East MB full-size (7500 sq. ft.) lot: They built an industrial-caliber workshop on the back half of the lot, complete with very high ceilings and chain lifts that helped the outgoing owner work on cars and boats in the huge work bay.
A big grassy yard it is not. To each his/her own.
The actual home (1991 build date) is fairly straightforward, and recently cleaned, polished and tidied. There's new carpet, paint and even new wood flooring – along with staging – to present the home in optimal conditions.
You get all 3br downstairs, some pretty big spaces, with some quirks to the layout. Updates go back to the early 90s. Upstairs you get your main living spaces, including a fairly open kitchen/great room in back, with high ceilings.
Besides that ginormous work bay, there's also some permitted guest quarters attached alongside. It's sizable and more than expected – a bedroom space, living area and kitchenette, also refreshed. We first thought of it as the work crew's quarters.
This is, as we say, a unique property, maybe one you'd want to imagine without the back half of the lot being as it is – unless that's exactly what you want.
Locationwise, this one is extremely far east and south, barely still in MB, just up from Aviation. So that's another matter.
If full-size lots in East MB are starting to trade in the $1.0-$1.3M range, depending on location, that puts some interesting context on the offering price: $1.495M.
Nearby neighbor 1751 Mathews, a nice place but right on Aviation, and on a huge lot, hasn't had any traction so far (111 DOM, priced now at $1.995M).
1731 Mathews starts at $1.495M and is open Sat. 2-4pm.
Thursday, March 28th, 2013
In MBC's early days, we often needed to bring in references to the Case-Shiller house price index to describe what was going on elsewhere. We would then check in to see if it rhymed with what was happening in Manhattan Beach real estate.
Now, it's been about 4 years since we made a substantial reference to Case-Shiller, but it looks like time again.
We mentioned the index it in a Sept. 2009 post with Ben Bernanke's declaration that the housing-led economic recession was "very likely over" (was it?), with Case-Shiller indicating at around that time that a "bottom" was forming in housing markets broadly. (See our posts, "Very Likely Over" and "MB vs. CA & U.S. Trends," July 2009.)
Looking back, Case-Shiller's data properly "rhymed with" the course of events in the Manhattan Beach market, at least. Most pros now cite Q3 2009 as the end of the slide and the beginning of a recovery in our local home sales and prices. (Some were saying it in the middle of Q3 2009 – we took a "trust but verify" type attitude, waiting to see if it was really in, but you gotta respect those who called it.)
Now we look forward.
Case-Shiller is documenting a drastic rise in home prices in many of their city-by-city indices.
Year-over-year comparisons (January 2012/January 2013):
- Phoenix: +23%
- San Francisco: +17.5%
- Las Vegas: +15.3%
- Detroit: +13.8%
- Atlanta: +13.4%
- Los Angeles: +12.1%
- Miami: +10.8%
- San Diego: +9.8%
The overall "20-city composite" was up 8.1% year over year.
Now, last we checked, Phoenix and Las Vegas were foreclosure-ridden wastelands and Detroit was groaning under the weight of umpteen-billion-dollars in debt, probably best off if absorbed into Windsor.
Did these places suddenly turn awesome when we weren't looking? What's with the heavy double-digit price increases?
Miami, that's another hard-hit market where the pop of the bubble revealed how horribly out of whack fundamentals had gotten. Much of Florida is still underwater, housing-wise. (Not to mention the climate change risks.) But Miami's up almost 11%.
LA, SF, San Diego – we can understand price recoveries in those regions to an extent, even, grudgingly, Atlanta.
But we're not going to argue with the Case-Shiller folks. Something is afoot. Something is inflating.
You can question January data, sure. The months of November-February tend to have the lowest sales volumes and could be subject, therefore, to the widest error ranges. If it were anyone but Case-Shiller putting out these numbers, we'd open up the salt shaker and take a little on one finger.
Over at Forbes online, they cite this recent report to say "Home Prices Growing As Fast As Before The Housing Collapse."
The LA Times article reviewing the new Case-Shiller data features some debate over whether the price increases are real or sustainable.
What about here, now?
We can all agree that things like median price movement don't capture much of what's going on in Manhattan Beach. But it's part of the story.
In a Sept. 2012 post summarizing YTD medians, we reported that MB (citywide) was up 4% at the time year-over-year, and then opined:
We still hear the occasional reference to how MB is up 10%, 15% or more this year.
That's hype. The type that comes out of the well-known, widely discussed imbalance between supply and demand here, the return of the bidding war, and the seemingly endless supply of "all-cash" buyers jumping into MB real estate.
Those are signs of a seller's market, but not pure madness.
That's what we said then. Hold your thoughts.
Citywide, MB wound up 2012 with a flat year-over-year median price comparison. (See "2012 Wrap: More Sales, Tiny Median Bump.") West of Sepulveda, SFRs were up just 1.5% year-over-year. (See "2012 Sales & Medians West of Sepulveda.")
Today, here in March 2013, it's very clear that median prices and comps have been deemed irrelevant in some deals.
Last September, we said the market was "not pure madness," but with some of the head-smacker deals coming out these days, we can't say the same now.
If you hate double negatives, what we're saying is that there is some madness out there now.
You still can't really pull enough data to say MB is up by a specific % from one time to the next – the data are not going to tell the story you're looking for. We're reduced to anecdotes, word on the street, dropping jaws, and all that.
Heck, if Detroit can be up 13%, why not MB?
We're in a rising market. The data are starting to show that everywhere. What's next – that will be interesting.
Tuesday, March 26th, 2013
Modern architecture in Manhattan Beach got a nice little plug in the LA Times recently, in a Saturday section feature about a privately commissioned new construction project.
"Cool, not cold," the headline proclaimed – thereby expressing the liability of the "modern" style (cold) and the hope people have for something clean, livable and great (cool) when approaching a home crafted in the style.
Devotees of moderns have had a good run of choices on the market here in MB recently.
Right in front of you every day here on MBC for a couple of weeks has been 700 27th St., a modern crafted by an architect for her family, offered at $2.250M (listed by Dave). Tonight we're ready to review offers, and we can report for now, at least, that the interest has been substantial – and greater than we might have expected for a home in modern style.
More than one person who is not offering on 700 27th has said this is a home they would buy in a flash if one or two things were different at this moment in life. (Mrs. MBC said something like that, too.)
And with many such comments comes an upbeat qualification: "I'm not into modern, but..."
It's a compliment to this specific house, but also an expression of how moderns lurk at the margins of the market.
Recently we saw a sale close at 532 6th (4br/4ba, 2750 sq. ft.) on a corner lot in the South End along Valley.
You may remember it, since the home has now traded 4 times since 2005, and was discussed here on MBC in 2007, 2008 and 2011.
This one is a home we have described as "surprisingly warm for a contemporary [that] made pretty good use of the limited footprint to make a good family home." It's situated on a trapezoidal lot on the corner with Valley and the 6th St. walkstreet. (Ooooh, walkstreets!)
The listing emerged late this January and sold at 4 DOM.
Its sale prices over the years:
- March 2005: $1.818M
- Oct. 2008: $1.820M [sellers had shot for $2.7M in '07]
- July 2011: $1.935M
- March 15, 2013: $2.275M
You can't see much about the latest listing online now, because the sellers made the curious choice to block internet distribution of the listing info. (Boo!)
Heading back over to the Tree Section, there was another modern in addition to 700 27th that hit the market recently, and it's in escrow.
That's 1708 Elm (4br/3ba, 3100 sq. ft.), a newer (2003) modern that's called a "Sophisticated Showpiece w/ A Warm Casual Vibe" in the listing description.
It features a huge, open great room on the first floor, with polished limestone floors and a super-sharp kitchen.
There are warm cherry wood floors in other rooms to liven up the feel of the home. The building was designed to give most every room lots of light coming in from big windows in more than one direction.
This one listed at $2.100M and made a quick deal.
Maybe one of the shockers of 2013 so far – we're going to have to make a list, because there are a few already – is that 217 9th finally has a deal.
This little half-lot home (3br/4ba, 1735 sq. ft.) right in the thick of downtown first sold – improbably – in Sept. 2007 for $3.000M. That's $1,730/PSF, for those of you keeping score at home.
It was offered back at $2.950M for 6 months last year, but to say it had no prayer at that price seems to really diminish the power of prayer.
217 9th came back this year with a local agent and still looked ambitious at $2.5M.
After a cut to $2.390M, they've now posted a deal.
If it comes in near that number, it's still well over $1,300/PSF. And for that home, which has some tight squeezes and unusual uses of space.
You missed all of those?
There's a new option (re-)emerging 505 N. Valley (4br/4ba, 2200 sq. ft.) in the South End.
This is a custom-designed, "green" build completed in 2006 and sold in Aug. 2007 by the folks who had built it for themselves for $2.175M. 'Twould appear that the owners foresaw a shift in the winds right around then, and got out while the getting was good.
We said 505 N. Valley was "re-emerging" now because this one ran 3 months on the market last year.
Then: $2.0M asking. No deal.
Now: $2.0M asking. And we'll see.
This is a cool home with a nice bonus: The great room up top and in back, which faces west, doesn't really have a neighbor to worry about that might block the views. A little half-lot home along the 5th St. walkstreet in back, 533 5th, is "landlocked" – no garage or street access – so you can't build new on that site. The half-lot cottage traded last year for $725K and will just have to stay as is unless and until it gets merged to the lot behind it, which does have garage/alley access.
UPDATE: A few folks have written to suggest that the building prospects at 533 5th are not as restricted as we state here. Buyers please investigate.
The story of last year's listings coming back this year and selling is one we keep writing here, and this year 505 N. Valley simply won't be a surprise if it joins that gallery.
The only hitch to last year's listing was the lack of public open houses, so you needed an agent to see it. Besides that, 3 months of exposure just didn't work. But that was then.
Is there really a trend toward moderns in MB? Maybe not. We may just be focused here on what's right in front of us each day.
But this sweep of new listings and sales does feel like it may represent new vigor for a style that is too often dismissed or disregarded in favor of more mainstream tastes.
UPDATE: Another new listing up on the Plateau has some modern/contemporary inspiration: 449 34th St. at $1.899M.
Sunday, March 24th, 2013
This past week, we've seen 17 new listings hit the market in MB, another good sign that Spring has sprung.
It's a busy weekend for open houses – even more so than most for Dave, who's running 2 of them. Those are the first 2 listings we'll feature below, both in the Tree Section. And rather than present neutral "reviews" of either one, we'll mainly excerpt the listing descriptions for those. We hope we can meet some readers this weekend at the opens.
To plan your weekend open-house tours, try this Redfin map list of open houses – sort by price or sub-region of MB by clicking the title on a column.
Or click here for the Beach Reporter list of opens.
700 27th (4br/4ba, 3420 sq. ft.) is the Tree Section modern home we've been promoting on MBC and all over the internet for some time. We're finally ready for the first public open house Sunday. Here's part of the listing description:
Natural light abounds in this warm, open architectural modern home. Terrific location on a sunny, oversized corner lot in the sought-after western part of the Tree Section. Close walk to school and parks, also walkable to town and beach.
This sharp home was designed by an architect as her family residence and built by Michael Lee. It achieves an amazing sense of privacy and seclusion in the heart of a lovely, quiet neighborhood.
There are 3 bedrooms upstairs with a dedicated office; downstairs is a guest room plus living spaces. There is also an inviting, separate 350 sq. ft. office/studio/guest suite across the yard, over the garage. Enjoy the sunny south-facing yard.
700 27th is offered at $2.250M and is open Sunday 2-4pm.
For more and larger photos, see: www.700-27th.com
2507 N. Valley (4br/4ba, 2825 sq. ft.) is a newer listing from just this week.
From the listing description:
This is a private, modern home with quality details and upgrades, including Pella windows, solid core doors and a top-flight kitchen.
Location near the greenbelt offers a simple walk to parks, downtown and school.
High ceilings, ample windows and treetop views make the great room inviting. The modern kitchen features Viking appliances and custom cabinetry. Formal dining is a separate space among the wide-open layout.
Designer finishes including custom drapery in all rooms and Kohler baths. Prewired for sound with high-end sound system and alarm.
The master is a large retreat (with fireplace) on the first floor opening to the front yard with fire pit. Another bedroom and dedicated office are on the first floor, with two more bedrooms and all common spaces upstairs.
The neighborhood, that great intangible factor, is full of friendly families that gather for events and parties and help one another out. All that plus air conditioning, a rarity in MB.
You can see more photos, larger, on the dedicated propety website: www.2507valley.com.
2507 N. Valley starts at $1.869M and is open Sun. 1-4pm.
In a different part of the Trees, closer to Pacific school, 2 new listings are extremely similar homes at comparable start prices:
2009 Elm (4br/3ba, 3100 sq. ft.) is a Mediterranean with an easy layout, and right down the middle in terms of what many families are looking for.
It's clean and recently refreshed, and hard to place as the 1998 build that it is. This one may have been among the first of the wave of similar homes to sprout in the Trees from the late 1990s through the end of the last bubble in 2007-2008. There aren't going to be great differences between the 1998 and the 2004 models, for instance.
You enter into a bright formal living room, and continue back to a large great room opening to a hardscape patio/yard. First floor also has formal dining and a fairly large, spare bedroom. Upstairs are 3br, with the kids's rooms – both pretty sizable, with high ceilings – sharing a jack-and-jill bath and a large master suite in back. The master gets treetop views to the west.
The listing description sings about this one as "sheer bliss" and as being "like walking in the rain without getting your hair wet." We're not sure what that last part means, but let's award some style points for trying. We'll stick with "right down the middle."
2009 Elm starts at $1.899M and is open Sun. 2-4pm.
1409 Pine (5br/4ba, 3200 sq. ft.) is extremely similar to 2009 Elm, but sports a 2001 build date. Its major points of distinction: An extra (5th) bedroom and location somewhat closer to school and town.
Like Elm, this home has you entering into a bright (albeit sunken) living room, with a big great room in back, plus formal dining and a spare bedroom. They fit 4br upstairs, plus laundry, without choking the kids' rooms somehow. (We've seen plenty of newer construction where, in the rush to provide the 5th bedroom, they wound up creating shoeboxes for the secondary bedrooms.)
Unlike Elm, this home has a grassy backyard, though the lot size is actually smaller here – listed as 4200 sq. ft., versus 4480 at 2009 Elm.
Like Elm, this one is "right down the middle," and will draw interest from the same buyers.
1409 Pine starts at $1.840M and is open Sun. 1-4pm.
728 36th (4br/4ba, 3575 sq. ft.) is a late-80s build that feels supersized in some ways. More importantly, it's been updated and enhanced over the years, with a much more current feeling inside than expected, despite a layout that seems to date the home.
Formal living and dining are combined in one large, carpeted room at the middle of the home, while a medium-sized, open kitchen – quite upgraded – and nice family room are in back. (They actually label this room a "den" in the listing, a word we almost forgot for a while there.)
You don't get a spare bedrom downstairs because they built an enormous garage instead – possibly a legal 4-car garage space. It's standard 2-car width and very deep. Convenient if you need to stash your weekend/hobby car or want to use half the space for a home gym or band practice space.
All 4br are upstairs, along with an extra living room. (Oops, that's a "den," too, in the listing description.) All the rooms have high ceilings. The master suite, in front, seems to get good light despite facing north, and the bath, though it faces the refinery, is strategically designed to mostly hide those views.
728 36th starts at $1.900M and is open Sun. 1-4pm.
1130 Laurel (3br/3ba, 2880 sq. ft.) is a TH near MB Blvd. that was offered last year, made a deal but canceled out. This year they're trying to sell again, and this time it's after the neighbor (1126 Laurel) just sold for $1.265M a couple of weeks ago.
Between the two of these THs, this one, 1130, is simply the superior unit.
Here's what we said of 1130 Laurel last year:
[This home] is a major surprise, a very spacious, sensible and modern home (TH) spread out mostly flat in an SFR-type layout. It's newer (2009), private, quiet and close to everything.
They did not cut corners on this build, a 2-TH development which had to be very custom to suit the unique, trapezoidal lot. (The plot looks exactly like Nevada from overhead.)
All 3br are on the middle (entry) level, with living spaces up top. The big, open, modern kitchen with skylights opens into a large living room. Another family room shares space with formal dining. With the garage 2 levels down, it's nice to find an elevator that lets out right at the kitchen – groceries go from car to kitchen that quickly.
There's not much outside space – a grassy area at the entry is staged with an outdoor dining table and umbrella, but it's kind of out of the flow. A small back patio/deck does include a hot tub off the master. Nice.
You could not be closer to Pacific school, and this is a very short walk to downtown and the beach.
1130 Laurel was purchased new in 2009 for $1.225m. It starts now at $1.599m, and is open Sun. 1-4pm.
(We're going to disregard the MLS entry, which states that the home's open from 4:00am till 1:00pm.)
2105 Meadows (4br/3ba, 2270 sq. ft.) is the latest, and largest, of a series of recent remodeling projects to hit East MB.
The "traditional" home (per the listing) has been given a beachy makeover, with dark-stained flooring, an open, modern kitchen, and completely redone baths throughout.
They had to work with a floorplan that wasn't perfect here, with the most striking feature being a shortage of common spaces downstairs. That's made up for by an upstairs family room that has surprisingly nice city views and a little deck.
The backyard is mostly paved patio with a cover, but there's some nice grassy space and planting areas to make for a decent garden. It's on the sunny western side.
2105 Meadows starts at $1.540M and is open Sun. 1-4pm.
425 26th (5br/5ba, 4200 sq. ft.) brings to mind one word, predominantly: Wow.
It's a striking "coastal contemporary" (per the listing) with high ceilings, high style and views of treetops, PV and some ocean peeks. There are no neighbors to the west, where the views are, because the home looks over a school.
There's a great entertaining layout, with a first-floor hangout room opening to a patio, not unlike a walkstreet home, bedrooms on the midfloor and a wide-open top floor with disappearing doors out to the front balcony. An elevator makes the top floor somewhat easier to access for those who need it.
Note from the Dept. of Awesome Market Timing: The current owners bought this home for $2.3M in 2009, which just looks like theft now. When new in early 2008, this home had stalled out on the market, then the market dipped considerably and the listing basically died. Having begun at $3.750M, the home wound up selling as a short sale at $2.3M after a full year on market.
425 26th starts now at $3.299M – yes, that'd be a million-dollar markup after 4 years – and is open Sun. 2-4pm.
Friday, March 22nd, 2013
Sometimes people might wonder: Why, Dave, do you spend so much effort rushing to review all the public open houses?
Last week, we wrote about 9 new listings in our "Weekend Opens" post, and that wasn't even all the new inventory.
One answer is: We're not sure we'll have a second chance to mention these homes if we don't get to them right away, as they come out.
Consider: Of the 9 we wrote about last week, 7 already have deals. Buyers positively raided the Tree Section:
585 31st (6br/7ba, 3500 sq. ft.) is new construction on a street-to-alley lot west of Blanche, with a pleasing Cape Cod-inspired style, white and bright all around.
We loved the great room in back, with wide-open spaces, high ceilings, dark flooring, a vast and modern kitchen and a whole back wall of folding/disappearing doors that open the great room fully to the sunny backyard.
585 31st started at $2.849M and is in escrow now.
1813 John (4br/5ba, 3550 sq. ft.) is a newer (2007) custom Cape Cod on one of the objectively great streets of the Tree Section.
Homes on John keep drawing the bidding wars. On this one, we said, "here they've priced in the specialness, asking $3M."
Was that too high to reach?
No. Multiple offers on a list price of $2.999M. Watch out, ceiling.
1312 Walnut (3br/3ba, 2100 sq. ft.) is not just a quick deal – it's going to shock this market.
This is a 1950s cottage with an add-on over the garage – it's plain on the outside, but has a nice wraparound yard and has been updated inside.
It last traded in May 2010 at $1.250M, and has been remodeled since.
For about 2-3 years, this home, in remodeled condition, was about a $1.35-$1.4M home. They brought it out at $1.599M this year, pushing against what should have been its max value.
Multiple-multiple offers came in, and the sale price here will simply shock you when it closes. Imagine what's the most you'd think it could go for. Then add. Then a little more. Wow.
Last year, there were several sales that caused heads to shake. Maybe the one that made longtime local real estate pros' jaws drop the most was 2301 John (4br/3ba, 2600 sq. ft.) a mid-century modern light fixer on a corner lot, which went for $1.880M. (See "Close the Books on 2301 John.")
This year, jaws won't just drop. They could dislocate.
2330 Ardmore (4br/5ba, 4800 sq. ft.) is an absolutely enormous remodel on 3 levels, one we called "a landmark of sorts, one we've often fancied from afar."
Despite all the square footage, it's functionally a 3br home. Don't call that a limiting factor though: Multiple offers against a list price of $2.788M.
This one provides an interesting case study of "off-market" versus public market. We first saw it late last year as a pocket listing. But they wound up bringing it to the public market here in March.
Off-market: No sale.
Public market: Multiple offers.
1725 Oak (4br/5ba, 3200 sq. ft.) is a a lovely home in a location that no one really seeks out: Oak Ave., albeit on the "right" side of Oak (west side).
We called the home a "masterful execution of an authentic-feeling Spanish," and "a gorgeous specimen of home building, the proverbial diamond in the rough." (The rough being Oak, in this case.)
Someone shared those opinions, and called it "must have." List price: $1.999M. Now in escrow.
2417 Crest (3br/4ba, 2300 sq. ft.) is a rear-unit TH that gets great ocean views from a recently remodeled, wide-open space up top.
We loved, loved, loved how a little back patio off the kitchen had been effectively turned into an indoor/outdoor living space, complete with a "South African Braai-style fireplace."
This one began at $2.499M and has a deal.
712 Marine (5br/4ba, 3250 sq. ft.) is a newer Cape Cod (2004) nearly at the corner of Marine and 25th, nicely appointed, with the master in back getting treetop views that give is a true "retreat" feeling that you would not expect on Marine.
712 Marine sold new in Aug. 2005 for $2.075M, listed this year 16% higher at $2.399M, and is in escrow.
These sales don't tell the whole story of the past week. Several other new listings went quickly, too.
As of last Friday, MB had 46 active listings.
With the rush of new listings – 17 over the past week – minus the new sales, inventory is at 46 again as of Friday morning.
But probably not that high for long.
Wednesday, March 20th, 2013
It was a little bit of a surprise, 18 months ago or so ago, to see 112 The Strand get knocked down.
It had been a completely livable, large 1988-built home, and it went for a price you'd think should maybe come with a house: $7.334M (May 2010).
But that turned out to be how someone valued the dirt alone.
They knew what they wanted: A South End lot on The Strand to build on. They took what was available and paid what they needed to pay. And then they got under way. The project has gone on a while, with a vast, deep basement carved out before the current 3-story structure sprouted. It'll be huge.
That $7M+ sale marked out a new high end for South End Strand lot values, but the question was: Would that sort of number be hit again at a time when Strand lots in the middle and northern parts of town were hovering in the 5s and 6s?
Maybe it wasn't much of a mystery. The answer was yes, when neighboring 108 The Strand sold last October for $7.050M.
That house, too, was livable, remodeled in just the past few years, had plenty of square feet (4025) inside and could certainly have worked as a $7M beachfront house. The layout was a bit odd, and might have needed reworking to be improved, but if $7M was the top end of your budget, you could make it work.
Ha, ha, no. As of Wednesday, the structure is no more. (These are "before" and "after" photos.) A giant excavator made quick work of the place.
Next up: Another new build deep down on the South End beachfront.
Sheez, if you're the old little house at 104 The Strand, sandwiched between newer 100 The Strand and the newest construction site down south, you've got to be afraid of bulldozers, too. It won't be forever before that lot gets redeveloped.
All of this new development just accelarates a trend. The South End is being remade as the must-have, ultra-high end of Strand real estate.
Maybe you can say it all began with the triple-lot home at 212 The Strand, a new South End landmark. Three lots were acquired over time for a reported $15M before the home was built. It defied fears and expectations by being not a behemoth, but a tasteful (if huge) home. It actually opens some space along The Strand better than 3 consecutive maxed-out houses would. (See: "Big, Beautiful, Too Much?" from June 2009.) And 212 The Strand began a home-design fashion trend in MB with its island-inspired style.
Our photo here shows the new home in the foreground, and some of the triple-lot home beyond.
Those 2 lots sold separately at $6.1M and $6.7M each, respectively, in March 2009. (One, 204, was offered on the public market; the other was purchased off-market by the same buyers.)
It's a little funny to look back at the start price on 204 The Strand, where a little 1920s cottage wasn't providing much of the value. The start price, in the depths of the financial crisis (late 2008), was $8.2M. Obviously it settled much lower.
But the next South End Strand lot just got pricier, with all that the neighbors have done to upgrade the neighborhood. An 8+ number just doesn't seem out of the question, when and if there is a next sale.
Tuesday, March 19th, 2013
It's a theme we keep checking in on, because the results are so interesting: What couldn't sell before, does sell now.
And in two very recent cases, listings that ran quite a while in 2012 sold quickly in 2013 with $200K overbids.
In fact, the stories of these two recent sales have almost everything in common.
1125 3rd (4br/4ba, 3900 sq. ft.) is a newer (2005), custom-built home built on a steep hillside. In our review in February, we summarized: "Suffice to say it's an unusual home, but that they've done a lot to try to echo a conventional home despite the quirks – like countless stairs inside and out that move you into the home, around the home, and among the various tiers of outdoor spaces."
This home was offered on and off over nearly 7 months of 2012, at prices ranging from $2.1M down to $1.999M, without success.
It came back this year with a new agent, staged and repriced at $1.750M.
The results: Nearly instant.
The sold price: $1.950M, a $200K overbid and yet – this is really interesting – pretty much the same price it lingered at last year.
Ready for another example that rhymes quite a bit?
Look to 1042 2nd (5br/4ba, 4430 sq. ft.), a newer (2003) and luxurious Hill Section (town)home with a fairly obvious location issue – there's a commercial building next door, and 2nd Street is a significant east-west artery.
That one failed in a long listing last year, also about 7 months just like 1125 3rd, with prices ranging from $2.2M down to $1.995M.
This year, 1042 2nd came out with a new agent and that same $1.750M list price, drew multiple offers, and now has sold with a $230K overbid at $1.980M.
The parallels continue: This sold price is pretty much the same as the price it lingered at last year before quitting.
It's that last point from both properties that opens up some interesting questions.
If the sellers had the market price(s) correct last year, why couldn't they sell?
Were both properties actually "underpriced" willfully this year to draw multiple offers? (Risky strategy, if so!)
Did they overshoot the 2012 market, but 2013 has caught up?
Are there simply more buyers now?
Same house, different agent... were they just marketed better this year?
Truth is, there's probably some mix of truth if you want to give a "partial yes" answer to all of those.
But the simplest conclusion seems to be: For sellers, 2013 is better than 2012.
Monday, March 18th, 2013
It's time for another one of our twice-monthly Manhattan Beach market updates.
Here's the quick overview on active inventory:
- 46 active listings as of 3/15/13
- 43 SFRs
- 3 THs
It is a little surprising to see inventory still hanging in the low 40s, given that we saw 19 new listings post in the week of March 10-17. You can see how quickly new listings are being absorbed. Inventory at the end of February, just 2 weeks ago, was 45.
Active listings by region of Manhattan Beach:
- Tree Section: 16 actives
- Sand Section: 20 actives
- Hill Section: 3 actives
- East MB: 7 actives
You can see the complete report on active listings, with live links to every property, in this single post on our data blog: "MB Inventory as of 3/15/13."
We're also providing a report on pending and closed sales by region of MB.
In a fashion similar to the report on active listings, you'll find the report on sales organized by sub-region of Manhattan Beach.
Here's a link to the post on our data blog: "MB Pending/Sold as of 3/15/13."
For closed sales, we provide the past 6 months' worth of sales by region. This is the typical window of time used by appraisers.
Enjoy the new reports!
If you haven't yet, be sure to check out our reviews of several new listings in our newest "Weekend Opens" roundup.
Saturday, March 16th, 2013
This is a busy weekend, if you'll let it be.
Dave got to 16 properties Friday in around 3 hours, not all of which will be on the MLS or publicly open.
We've written up as many as we could here, but there are more to see. Your challenge is to make it to as many of the public opens this weekend as you can.
Before we jump to the reviews, we'll briefly take note of MBC now beginning its 7th year online. Our 6th anniversary is Saturday. Dating back to 2007, when we launched this little site, who'd have thunk we'd be here today?
It remains fun to produce MBC, and we keep meeting great people through the site, so we're happy to keep it running.
To plan your weekend open-house tours, try this Redfin map list of open houses – sort by price or sub-region of MB by clicking the title on a column.
Or click here for the new-format Beach Reporter list of opens.
585 31st (6br/7ba, 3500 sq. ft.) is new construction on a street-to-alley lot west of Blanche. Though this block may not get all the play and prestige that the tree-lined, flatter portion of 31st gets, it's a great little stretch, downsloping toward now-sleepy Sand Dune Park, with big trees in view from the front portion of the home. It's a great spot.
The home has a pleasing Cape Cod-inspired style, white and bright all around. An unusual plus: A large front porch that you can almost imagine really using. Just try to find another one of these in MB.
The great room in back has just about everything buyers seem to treasure these days: Wide-open spaces, high ceilings, dark flooring, a vast and modern kitchen – with Carrara marble, not granite, counters – and a whole back wall of folding/disappearing doors that open the great room fully to the sunny backyard.
The master suite is in the sunny front half of the house; all the bedrooms are of good size and have their own baths.
The big surprise: A separate guest unit/office over the garage in back, with its own outdoor stairway for access.
You haven't exactly seen this house before, even though it seems so carefully tailored to today's buyer demands.
585 31st starts at $2.849M and is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.
1813 John (4br/5ba, 3550 sq. ft.) is a newer (2007) custom Cape Cod on one of the objectively great streets of the Tree Section.
It seems John keeps drawing all the bidding wars. So here they've priced in the specialness, asking $3M.
The design here is a little different. The halfway buried garage opens up a bright living room at the front of the house, up a partly split level. The main living areas down a couple of stairs are long and flowing, opening to a covered back patio and a small pool. There is a sunny casual dining nook as well as a quite open formal dining room.
Upstairs, all 4br get their own baths. Each room is a little different – no square boxes with flat ceilings to be found. It's a designed distinctiveness, amplified by the extraordinary levels of custom décor. (It would seem you can't get these colors and materials to match up so perfectly without a pro helping out.)
1813 John starts at $2.999M and is open Sun. 2-4pm.
2330 Ardmore (4br/5ba, 4800 sq. ft.) is an absolutely enormous remodel on a lot that's essentially 10,000 sq. ft. (Though you learn in real estate that hillside lots like this one can be very large, but with lots of unusable area.)
This one's a landmark of sorts, one we've often fancied from afar since the current owners bought it (oh my, that was 2004!) and went to work retooling it for themselves.
It's rare to get 3 levels in the Tree Section, but that is achieved here with what seem to be a sprawling series of additions to a smaller, original house.
You enter the main floor off of a brick courtyard with fountain, into a broad, wide and modern-feeling great room space. There are treetop views from this high spot over Ardmore looking to the west and north. (Seems like in the right conditions, you'd see a lot of refinery, but we chose to focus on the rooftops, trees and Sand Section bluffs on the hazy day we visited.)
As great as the main living level spaces are, there's more downstairs. There's now a vast family/game room spreading across the wide space. We don't see bedrooms getting added there, so it probably keeps that basic use in the future. It would be a snap to entertain a pretty sizable group.
The bedroom layout is a little unexpected, though, and despite all the plus-plus square footage, you don't really see this as a home for a "big family."
The large, open master is on the main (middle) living level with a view out to the courtyard. It's got a very modern feel considering the overall traditional look of the home.
Two more smallish bedrooms are poked up on a top level, sharing a bath. The fourth official bedroom is back amid the main living areas on the midlevel, and really serves best as an office or parlor-type room, though by closing the doors off, you do get legal bedroom #4.
There's really nothing else we've seen that compares to this one, with its mix of traditional and modern, super extra square footage and a hillside view lot.
2330 N. Ardmore starts at $2.8M (technically $2.788M), and is open Sat. & Sun. 2-4pm.
1725 Oak (4br/5ba, 3200 sq. ft.) is a masterful execution of an authentic-feeling Spanish, complete with an entry courtyard, and inside, a loving display of woods, bold tiles and wrought iron, and treetop views from many second floor rooms.
It's a big surprise to find along Oak, the easternmost street in western MB, often ignored due to its location challenge – but here's a gorgeous specimen of home building, the proverbial diamond in the rough.
You'll find the layout familiar at first, with the big kitchen/great room in back, opening to a smallish paved back patio area (hey, it's a 4480 sq. ft. lot, only so much you can do). Bonus: A sunken seating area for a firepit.
But the open dining room up front, connected to the courtyard, is a nice twist. Even the 1st floor guest suite connects to it. The burbling fountain almost transports you. Are you on Oak or in Sevilla?
There are 3br upstairs, with the master in back gaining the most from a position in back – it feels woodsy.
Surprise: The laundry room up toward the front is huge, because it's meant for multiple purposes – "craft room," anyone? It's a great big space to make a mess, and clean up.
It's safe to say that people don't start out shopping in MB targeting an authentic Spanish in an off location, but you can see how someone might fall in love.
1725 Oak was last sold in Dec. 2007 for $2.050M, and starts now pretty close to that level, asking $1.999M. It is open Sun. 2-4pm.
3612 Poinsettia (2br/1ba, 865 sq. ft.) offers literally the most you can do with a little, original cottage, without changing much at all about the original floorplan.
This little cutie has gotten the complete treatment, which the listing calls "Pottery Barn Perfect," but we don't want to suggest it's clichéd at all.
In fact, we want to give credit to these outgoing owners, who adopted a plain-vanilla, rental-caliber original 5 years ago and gave it new life.
We saw a great kitchen remodel, nice rehab and dark stain on the flooring, replacement of doors and mouldings everywhere, and the single bath is updated with a throwback feel – if you'll allow us that wording. Yes, you're showering in a clawfoot tub, for instance, but it's not some 1950s standard-issue deal – it was chosen more recently to feel older, and more authentic, than what you'd have actually found here in 1955.
Hey, what can you do with 865 sq. ft.? It's a small place. But they did everything.
On the plus side, with the small square footage, that's a big and sunny backyard resulting.
Location just a few doors off Rosecrans will give people pause. Location is one reason why homeowners tend to work with what they get rather than pushing for big remodels or rebuilds. Updating and preserving the original is a smart move.
3612 Poinsettia last traded in July 2008 at $849K, before the remodel.
It starts now at $975K, and is open Sun. 1-4pm.
1312 Walnut (3br/3ba, 2100 sq. ft.) hides most of its assets from passersby. The 1950s cottage with an add-on over the garage looks plain as could be from outside, and its yard is enclosed by a high fence. You could pass it 100 times and never take note of this home, though it's on a corner and is fully exposed on 2 sides.
But walk in and you're treated. Enter into the great room and a mid-century modern type feel kicks in at first, with floor-to-ceiling windows along the sunny western side of the home, making an already open room feel that much larger. The garden seems to be part of the room.
The kitchen (and master) is done up in a more French country style, which is attractive, if not everyone's cup of tea café au lait.
You feel the original cottage layout, with a central hall and bedrooms on either side, but what would have been your 3rd bedroom downstairs is a hybrid room – maybe a small study or library, with laundry just off of it and the stairwell up to the master as well. And that's a good-size master with modern-feeling bath.
1312 Walnut was purchased in a different market in different condition: in May 2010 at $1.250M. The current owners layered on pricey remodeling and transformed the place.
1312 Walnut, refreshed and revived, starts now at $1.599M, the sort of price that might have gotten you 700-1000 square feet more just a couple of years ago. It is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.
1708 Elm (4br/3ba, 3100 sq. ft.) is a newer (2003) modern in the Tree Section. Its basic profile is extremely similar to Dave's new listing at 700 27th, so rather than offer a review here at MB Confidential, we're going to limit our post here to the content of the official listing description:
A Sophisticated Showpiece w/ A Warm Casual Vibe. This Custom Built (Baldwin Construction) Home Features an Architectural Modern Design, Built w/ High-End Finishes. 4 Bdrms, Office, Bonus Rm, 3 Bathrooms, Backyard, Built-in Fireplace, Laundry Room, 2 Car Garage with 2 Car Additional Parking Spaces on a Flat Driveway (ideal for shooting hoops - already there!). The Home Features CUSTOM Brazilian Cherry Wood Floors & Limestone Floors, Cabinetry, Shelving, Tiles & Fixtures, Motorized Skylights, Security System w/ Built-In Monitors & Custom Commercial Grade Dual Paned Fleetwood Windows & Sliders. An Oversized Living Rm Showcases Lami Glass, a Custom Entertainment Center, Floor to Ceiling Sliders & a Fireplace. A Gourmet Kitchen w/ a Center Island (Room for Barstools) & Formal Dining Area (that can Comfortably Accommodate Seating for 10) are Opened to the Family Room that offer 10 Foot Wall-to-Wall Glass Sliding Doors that Lead to the Back Yard which also has a Built-in BBQ. The Bonus Rm can be used as a Playroom or Storage. The Master Suite has 2 Closets & the Larger Walkin could also be used as a 2nd Office/ Nursery/Work Out Room, etc. The Laundry Room is located Upstairs, Next to the Bedrooms. There is also a Family Room & an Office. A MUST See!!
1708 Elm starts at $2.100M and is open Sat. & Sun. 1-5pm.
712 Marine (5br/4ba, 3250 sq. ft.) is a newer Cape Cod (2004) nearly at the corner of Marine and 25th, an "upper" portion of Marine that doesn't get quite the level of traffic that you'll see west of Blanche, where Marine becomes a gateway to the beach.
It's hard to describe the layout here adequately – there are lots of stairs and level changes, with a step-up entry, step-up living room in front, open dining room along the hallway back, and a step-down great room in back. To the plus side, the kitchen/great room have very, very high ceilings.
If you want the big, grassy yard, look elsewhere. This sunny yard has potential, but now hosts a sports court and outdoor bar.
The master and bedrooms are all nicely appointed, with the master in back getting treetop views that give is a true "retreat" feeling that you would not expect on Marine.
There's a little extra bonus square footage downstairs at the garage level, with a home gym space. It is just right for that use.
712 Marine sold new in Aug. 2005 for $2.075M, and starts now 16% higher at $2.399M.
712 Marine is open Sun. 2-4pm.
2417 Crest (3br/4ba, 2300 sq. ft.) is a rear-unit TH that gets great ocean views from a recently remodeled, wide-open space up top. Indeed, the whole home, a 2002 build, got a thorough re-do with panache in 2009, and it's got several signature elements that stick with you.
Two unique features jump out: The long (14' long) built-in, modern dining table stretching from the kitchen – a bold statement, and seemingly functional. It defines the home as an entertaining space.
A little back patio off the kitchen has been given marvelous purpose with disappearing doors and an indoor/outdoor countertop that merges the spaces when windows are folded away. Wide open, the little patio becomes a defining element of the home – fully a part of the living spaces, not some little deck you never use.
There's a cooking fireplace out there, too, which the description calls a "South African Braai-style fireplace," which we're happy to repeat here. That's the first time in 6+ years that we've had occasion to use that phrase on MB Confidential.
The master has been redone in a high-gloss modern style, and is reasonably spacious. The 2 kids' bedrooms downstairs aren't too big – well, it is the beach – but have nice baths.
Pricewise, this one is shooting above $1,000/PSF, and calls to mind 2305 Bayview (4br/4ba, 2600 sq. ft.), a really, really smashing and complex modern remodel of a slightly bigger TH that sold for $2.3M in April 2012. That one had some views, but nothing like 2417 Crest. ("It's like sitting on top of the world," says the listing for Crest.)
2417 Crest starts at $2.399M and is open Sun. 12-2pm.