lot values

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You could be forgiven for not noticing the old Spanish at 10th/Highland downtown.

921 Highland is a 1930s original on a double lot (5400 sq. ft.).

If you were to rewind time a bit (which is hard), we'd hazard that the big house was once all but alone on the stretch of Highland near Center Street and the pier. There are stories, to be sure.

Now, though, the question turns to what to do on the site. Someone has just paid $5.400M for the home, and we're not really thinking it's because they're preservationists.

A double lot with ocean views on a walkstreet right in the thick of MB's now-bustling core should probably have a lot of new stuff on it that reflects what MB is today.

You could built one heckuva single-family home, something you could even call…

One way to track the Manhattan Beach real estate market is to watch what's happening with the oldest, and often smallest, homes in town.

In the Tree Section, there have been several recent sales.

Today, Dave's listing at 1600 N. Poinsettia (2br/1ba, 920 sq. ft.) just closed for $1.370M, somewhat over the asking price of $1.350M. That's a mostly original 1940s cottage that will be getting a makeover by the new owners.

Very similarly, slightly larger 1500 N. Poinsettia (3br/2ba, 1230 sq. ft.) sold 7 weeks ago for $1.399M, and will also be remodeled. (Dave represented the buyers there.)

Both of those Poinsettia homes have lot sizes a bit under what's typical for the Tree Section, at about 4200 sq. ft. each. Both drew interest from buyers who would have…

It was very notable when the standard-size corner lot at 738 29th registered a new high for Tree Section dirt at $1.750M.

But the momentum in this market could soon propel land values beyond that point, which was only hit in early April. (See "Another High for Tree Section Dirt.") Yes, there's a lot of Spring left – even though we're baking like it's Summer here already.

You already have 2100 Palm in escrow, with its list price of $1.695M having been eclipsed quickly with just the first round of bids.

That lot is slightly bigger (4945 sq. ft., thanks to a 45' frontage) and definitely sports a prime location. There were a lot of "must have" buyers in that mix, so the sky is almost the limit for that plot.

Also benefiting from a prime location is the new…

It was about 6 years ago. The last real estate upcycle had begun to stall out. New construction sales slowed. A local builder took it upon himself to convince wary buyers that it was an excellent time to buy.

In our January 2008 post here at MBC (see "A Builder's Take"), we copied this extraordinary half-page print ad placed by the builder and discussed the ad's message. (Click to enlarge.)

Memorably titled, "The Crystal Ball Story," the ad said that new home prices could not go lower, and that buying in early 2008, you'd find your investment up 20% in 5 years.

As time has passed, the message of the half-page ad has proved to be about half right and about half wrong.

The wrong parts are easy to spot. The ad noted that many (then) new homes were built…