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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 remarkable that once they sold lots in Manhattan Beach for $200.

But those were the old-fashioned days, and nothing cost what it does today. Plus, they had to wear those ridiculous head-to-toe swim outfits.

Everything's pricier now, MB's got more going for it than in those $200-a-plot days, and the swim gear's gotten better. (Now we wear head-to-toe swim outfits by choice, to stay warm.)

You don't have to look all the way back to the days of the Model T to see some very impressive value increases over time.

Let's take one townhome for an example, and a roughly 15-year timeframe to watch prices rise.

301 2nd (3br/4ba, 2100 sq. ft.) is a townhome completed in 1991.

The first title transfer we can see now goes back to 1997. Purchase price in '97: $725K.

It's a theme we keep checking in on, because the results are so interesting: What couldn't sell before, does sell now.

And in two very recent cases, listings that ran quite a while in 2012 sold quickly in 2013 with $200K overbids.

In fact, the stories of these two recent sales have almost everything in common.

1125 3rd (4br/4ba, 3900 sq. ft.) is a newer (2005), custom-built home built on a steep hillside. In our review in February, we summarized: "Suffice to say it's an unusual home, but that they've done a lot to try to echo a conventional home despite the quirks – like countless stairs inside and out that move you into the home, around the home, and among the various tiers of outdoor spaces."

This home was offered on and off over nearly 7 months of 2012,

When last we called attention to 1126 Laurel, it was last November, to label the home "Such a Deal in '09."

Without irony, we noted that the new, 2012 listing for this fairly large TH (4br/3ba, 2300 sq. ft.) near downtown was a sign that "2009 was a great time to buy."

2009: a great time?

Of course, to be living and shopping for real estate in early 2009 seemed like more of a horror show at the time. The local market had been dipping for a couple of years and the economy didn't look so good. (Pause a moment to recall, and the understatement here is apparent.)

If you bought then, you had plenty of reason to fear that equity would start leaking out the windows as soon as you got the keys.

But now we see what can happen when you buy on the dip.

In 2009, 1126…