bidding war

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West of Sepulveda in Manhattan Beach, within the Tree Section, there are really 4 quadrants.

One of the best of these suburban quadrants is north of Valley and west of Pacific Ave., all the way to the sand dune.

In the 500-700 blocks, you have a close-knit community that's a quick walk to Grand View school, with a nice off-the-beaten-bath feel to it. Legions of kids seem to be out all the time. It's easy for potential buyers to say, "Oh yeah, that's what we're looking for."

One of these streets has seen more than its share of head-spinning sales recently: 26th St.

Start with the newest: 724 26th (5br/3ba, 3400 sq. ft.).

There's no doubting the appeal – big house, bigger-than-normal lot (5125 sq. ft.) with a fairly big, sunny, south-facing yard. A…

A little pocket of the MB Tree Section near downtown does not feel like the suburbs at all – it feels like the beach.

Smaller lots and dense development rules put the homes close together. Some get an ocean view, and downtown is close by for all. This area, basically 12th and 13th Streets from Ardmore east to Laurel, is informally the South Martyrs Hill, given that it's south of the American Martyrs Church.

There have been 4 sales in the area this year already on the public market – each seemingly pricier than the last. (An off-market lot sale is pending.)

Blowing away all records for the area is the most recent sale: 632 12th St. (3br/3ba, 3000 sq. ft.), an 80s build with mostly cosmetic updates, up near the top of the hill with some views.

They came…

Earlier this year, we were already amazed at the runup in land values in the Tree Section. (See "Tree Section Lot Values Spike Again.")

The newest closed sale exceeds the points of reference we had before.

That's at 738 29th St., a standard-size 4800 sq. ft. corner lot in a very quiet, favorable location along Agnes.

They listed it publicly at $1.495M, conscious that a larger, nearby lot with a nice location at 750 30th had recently settled for $1.515M.

But that $1.5-ish price turned out to be just the starting point.

A rush of early offers came in, and the victor paid $1.750M.

Our information is that the buyers are, as they say, "owner/users" intending a custom new build for themselves. Spec builders were in the mix at this price level as well.

You have to be careful not to be continuously shocked, or your systems may burn out. You may become numb to news that really is big.

We're conscious of all that, and kinda hate to ring the "shocker" bell too often in this rising market. But we have occasion again today with the sale at 768 26th in the Tree Section at $1.900M.

The most ridiculous way to analyze this one would be by price per square foot. Because on this 3br/2ba, 1443 sq. ft. cottage, the PPSF wound up at $1,317/PSF.

Check that. You'll typically see those kinds skewed figures only when looking at a land sale – a small house contributes almost nothing to the value that someone places on the plot, so the math gets screwy. Recent examples in the Trees are 750 30th ($1.515M, $1,308/PSF), 636