tree section

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It was about 6 years ago. The last real estate upcycle had begun to stall out. New construction sales slowed. A local builder took it upon himself to convince wary buyers that it was an excellent time to buy.

In our January 2008 post here at MBC (see "A Builder's Take"), we copied this extraordinary half-page print ad placed by the builder and discussed the ad's message. (Click to enlarge.)

Memorably titled, "The Crystal Ball Story," the ad said that new home prices could not go lower, and that buying in early 2008, you'd find your investment up 20% in 5 years.

As time has passed, the message of the half-page ad has proved to be about half right and about half wrong.

The wrong parts are easy to spot. The ad noted that many (then) new homes were built…

We see a lot of homes here in Manhattan Beach.

But we've never seen one like 743 29th, Dave's new listing in the Tree Section.

This home is both old and new. It's newly built, 100%, but its art and ambition are much older. The goal was to create a home that feels timeless, that can transport you to another place – almost to another era.

With rigid attention to detail, this home recreates a classic American home with Queen Anne lineage, something you might find atop sprawling farmland on the East Coast, perhaps in the South, definitely in northern California – in Napa or Mendocino.

By the beach here? That's surprising. And wonderful.

The double lot where this property rests adds to that feeling. The owners did not max out on their nearly 8400 sq. ft.…

Earlier this year, we were already amazed at the runup in land values in the Tree Section. (See "Tree Section Lot Values Spike Again.")

The newest closed sale exceeds the points of reference we had before.

That's at 738 29th St., a standard-size 4800 sq. ft. corner lot in a very quiet, favorable location along Agnes.

They listed it publicly at $1.495M, conscious that a larger, nearby lot with a nice location at 750 30th had recently settled for $1.515M.

But that $1.5-ish price turned out to be just the starting point.

A rush of early offers came in, and the victor paid $1.750M.

Our information is that the buyers are, as they say, "owner/users" intending a custom new build for themselves. Spec builders were in the mix at this price level as well.

You have to be careful not to be continuously shocked, or your systems may burn out. You may become numb to news that really is big.

We're conscious of all that, and kinda hate to ring the "shocker" bell too often in this rising market. But we have occasion again today with the sale at 768 26th in the Tree Section at $1.900M.

The most ridiculous way to analyze this one would be by price per square foot. Because on this 3br/2ba, 1443 sq. ft. cottage, the PPSF wound up at $1,317/PSF.

Check that. You'll typically see those kinds skewed figures only when looking at a land sale – a small house contributes almost nothing to the value that someone places on the plot, so the math gets screwy. Recent examples in the Trees are 750 30th ($1.515M, $1,308/PSF), 636