A Threesome in Arbolado Tract

Posted by Dave Fratello on Saturday, May 19th, 2007 at 6:58am.




Bordered by Pacific School, American Martyrs Church and Manhattan Beach Blvd. in the Tree Section is the "Arbolado Tract," the name the city uses to refer to a couple dozen homes built in the late 1980s as a group.

You just don't see planned developments like this in MB. East of Sepulveda, we have Manhattan Village, a gated community of similar vintage, but that's it.

The Arbolado Tract's name is reflected in the private cul-de-sac street through its core, Arbolado Court – literally, "Treed" Court in Spanish, or "Tree-Lined" Court. Cute for the Tree Section.

If you're wondering what a home in Arbolado is worth these days, three listings will help to sort that question out. (Actually, none are situated on Arbolado Ct., just the periphery.)

The current contenders (listed in order of their photos above):
1140 Laurel: 3br/3ba, 2550 sq. ft. – $1,639,000
758 14th St.: 4br/3ba, 3050 sq. ft. – $1,899,000
752 14th St.: 5br/3ba, 3550 sq. ft. – $2,150,000
Of these, two are new this week, and one is, er, more well-traveled. 758 14th was purchased only last summer by the current owners, who closed for $1.695m on July 21 '06. They later rethought their purchase and sought a quick $295k profit (start price: $1.990m), as MBC has reported previously.

Besides 758 14th, there's only one recent sale to go by, 8 Arbolado Ct., a 4br/3ba, 3300 sq. ft. home sold in Feb. 2006 for $1.950m. We will consider that to be a peak price, given that the list price was $1.799m, there were multiple offers and, by Feb. '06, no one had quite yet figured out that the peak had come and gone.

All three of these contenders seem to be overpriced, starting with an analysis we'll call the "758 14th St. Test," using the price per-square-foot that this home sold for last summer to calculate prices for July 2006. That p/p/sq.ft. was $556. Using this standard:
  • 1140 Laurel should be at $1.420m, $220k lower than current list,
  • 752 14th St. should be at $1.9m, $250k lower than current list, and
  • 758 14th St. should be at $1.7m, $200k lower than current list.
Now, if we were in early 2006, coasting on the momentum of the last several years' run-up, we might think these homes could command top dollar. Just to see what the list prices might be then, let's apply the "8 Arbolado Test." The p/p/sq.ft. there was $591. Using this test:
  • 1140 Laurel should be at $1.5m, $140k lower than current list,
  • 752 14th St. should be at $2.0m, $150k lower than current list, and
  • 758 14th St. should be at $1.8m, $100k lower than current list.
So these homes are priced at least $100k too high, perhaps $250k or more too high. Now for the caveats.

First, the "8 Arbolado Test" clearly overstates the value of all three of these homes. Within the Arbolado Tract, a location on the private drive is clearly preferable. That's a peak price for the development at a peak time.

Next, location actually suggests a further discount for 1140 Laurel. This home has no neighbors; it is an isolated tail of the development facing 12th St. Construction is beginning on a lot next door. Worse, cars come down the hill at 12th St. with their headlights pointed at the living room of 1140 Laurel. Bad feng-shui. An extra 1,000 sq. ft. in lot size does little to compensate.

Remodeling could cut either way on 752 14th. The interior is jarringly modern, Ikea Metro, if you will. It's sleek, but not everyone will want to move their family in.

And then there's 758 14th. Is it not obvious that the price you paid last summer is pretty much the most you can expect today? No, apparently, it is not obvious yet.
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