Time for Some Cake

Posted by Dave Fratello on Monday, March 17th, 2008 at 4:02am.

One year ago, in a profound act of folly, your humble correspondent created Manhattan Beach Confidential.

Folly? We kid, sorta. It’s a time-consuming hobby for someone outside the RE industry; probably the third- or fourth-most demanding thing in our lives. Not so sure we would have started it if we had known what was ahead.

We’ve made a lot of friends, we’ve made some enemies. We’ve learned a lot. We have made some mistakes and issued some apologies. We’ve seen readership blossom, growing constantly, and have watched the comments section become one of the more interesting parts of the site as a result.

We got called the “#1 Consumer Real Estate Blog” in our earlier days. For a time, MBC was also a column in the Easy Reader. And we somehow wound up on the front page of the local newspaper (Daily Breeze). All completely unexpected.

How did we get here?

MBC exists because we always wished there was something like it. Real estate information seems tightly controlled, available only to people active in the market.

Why should that be? We all live in homes and we’re all affected in some way by the fluctuations of the market around us. We always thought that there ought to be a place to gather data, learn some of the inside scoop, discuss trends and see independent analysis. There is independent reporting and analysis about almost every other financial market, why not local real estate?

We knew we’d have enough material if, in addition to local RE, we tackled other housing bubble and economic issues. That big picture is a crucial part of the answer to why homes in MB tripled (or more) in price over the past decade. And the bursting of the bubble, and potential financial meltdown/government bailout in its wake, could be a big part of the story about the future of our market.

To keep the whole package interesting, we try to remind everyone why MB is special. Make no mistake, we love MB. And there are a hundred reasons why, of which we’ve covered only a fraction so far.

MBC has evolved a great deal in reaction to reader feedback – what you like, what you don’t like, what you do while on the blog… all things that we can use to tailor the offerings. Certainly we’ve adjusted our tone from time to time as we worked to find a voice.

We feel just a bit validated by the rush of events this past year. After all, MBC’s first post fairly blared (in all caps, no less) “prices are dropping in Manhattan Beach.” That was maybe a bit edgy at the time, but it’s a fact that’s more widely acknowledged now. Last Friday morning’s LA Times lead story was headlined, “Southland Home Prices Tumble Fast.”

Over the past year, we’ve covered a wide range of topics, particularly individual listings and local market activity. We’ve covered 2 dozen homes put up for sale just 2 years or so after the owners moved in. We’ve seen sellers try raising the prices on their homes to attract buyers. We’ve seen others take off $800k-$1.25m to make a deal. We’ve covered some seemingly never-ending listings.

We called the Tree Section glutted with new construction. We’ve seen builders of new construction start to take losses for the first time in this decade, and we even saw one builder try to argue – in an advertisement – that it’s impossible for prices to go down much in MB.

Along the way, we’ve delivered a steady stream of data to help readers draw their own conclusions. Whether you use our market updates to help you shop or to help chart pricing trends, we strive to make it possible for most anyone to use MBC to learn more about the local market than they can anywhere else.

Until we sputter to the finish, exhausted, or get cut off at the knees, or find someone else that does it all better, we’ll try to keep it going. Year One, meet Year Two. And now it's time for some cake.
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