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Call it 6 months ago.

Someone holding a newer ocean-view townhome in MB thought something like this: "Market's hot. Wonder how much I could get for this house?"

And so, the 2009-built El Porto townhome at 312 44th (4br/3ba, 2675 sq. ft.) was listed, as a FSBO, at $2.700M.

That would have been an absolutely extraordinary price, if they could even come close.

We noted in "Double Your Money?" that the same TH had sold new for $1.269M in Jan. 2011. (That post includes more of a deep dive into the original, ambitious, late-bubble project in which this TH was built.)

In February this year, they were looking to more than double their purchase price in 3 years.

Alas, they did not.

The FSBO string played out. Various agents made their pitches to the would-be…

El Porto has always been a little different. It wasn't even part of Manhattan Beach until we annexed it in 1980.

Though it's in MB (now), homes in El Porto tend to run cheaper. It's all relative, of course, because a million-shack shack on an alley in El Porto is still a pretty pricey piece of real estate. Still, you'll generally get more for the dollar up north.

And yet, wouldn't you believe it? In 2014, we see new sales in El Porto that raise the bar considerably.

First, it was 113 El Porto (4br/4ba, 2700 sq. ft.), a Strand-adjacent TH that gets great views and has an outstanding open floorplan on the top level.

We felt truly lucky to even see 113 El Porto. Though it's 14 years old (2000 build), it sizzles with modern design and a sense of luxury…

It's not possible to call this a trend, but we have noticed that several escrows have flopped recently in MB.

Let's put this first: Every real estate deal, no matter how clean it seems, includes the seeds of its own destruction. Sometimes, it's a wonder that a sale closes.

The most recent escrows in MB to fail and see a property come back to market were:

537 5th (4br/3ba, 2750 sq. ft.), a South End walkstreet home, and what could be better? That's what everyone wants. There's a bidding war going on just up the same street for mere dirt (off-market).

Sure, this house at 537 is an unusual 3-level remodel with, officially, a strikingly small lot (2019 sq. ft. instead of the standard 2700), but everyone who sees it can appreciate the pros and cons of the…

It was only this past January when an auction for 104 The Strand resulted in a big number for the plot: $9.500M.

Now, before they get under way with any new construction, the new owners are offering it back.

For $4.400M more: $13.900M.

Now, this little rectangle of dirt was already scarce when offered in January for $8.0M. It's really the last lot from the Hermosa border north up till around 4th St. on The Strand that seems ripe for total new construction. (See "Last South End Strand Lot Will Sell," from January 2014.)

And we know that the South End of the Strand has been developing into The prime piece of MB's prime real estate for some time. (See "Knocking Down the South End Strand," from May 2013.)

One way or another, the old structure has a date…