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For once, we see a couple of closed sales in this market that don't seem bonkers.

Both were townhomes on Alma, up in the North End, each with some views.

First was 2801 Alma (3br/4ba, 1960 sq. ft.), a 2005-built Spanish by a well-regarded builder with very nice details.

Views? Yes, some, off the balcony, probably blockable.

Don't let the build date fool you, the listing seemed to say: "[It] still looks new. It’ll look new next year. And it’ll probably look new 10 years from now." Hey hey, a house that never gets old!

This one launched at $2.500M and caused something of an instant buzz: Isn't that a bit high?

But they drew an offer within about 2 weeks. And here's what's smart: The buyers worked it. Even though the sellers had shot high and the…

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…