Weekend Opens (9/17-9/18)

Posted by Dave Fratello on Saturday, September 17th, 2011 at 3:54pm.

Just a few new offerings this week worth a review – inventory is trying to grow here post-Labor Day.

The buzz this week is sure to surround 2509 Laurel, a new Tree Section offering at $1.695m that seems to suit a lot of the criteria of frustrated buyers who are targeting the area. See our review below.

To plan your weekend tours, try this Redfin map list of open houses – sort by price or sub-region of MB by clicking the title on a column.

Or click here for the more traditional Beach Reporter list of opens.

As usual, we appreciate it when readers share views on this week's featured properties. Let us know what you like, don't like or must have.

And if you're in the market as a buyer or seller, please consider asking MBC for help identifying the right agent for you.

Blog author Dave Fratello works directly with buyer clients on a case-by-case basis, but our priority here is to make sure that anyone who wants help gets the best service possible. For more, see our referrals page.


Hill Section

612 John (6br/8ba, 7400 sq. ft., on a 10,000 sq. ft. lot) is a huge and slightly puzzling palace that currently has huge ocean views like a corner-lot property.

We've previously called this home "a quintessential Hill Section beauty," noting that it's newer (2000) and has been extensively remodeled since then and drinks in those views that the Hill is known for.

We applied that monicker when the home was offered in 2008-09, at an asking price as high as $7.3m. It eventually traded for $5.450m in July 2009.

Since we last saw it, John sprouted an elegant pool and spa in place of its grassy yard, and a raised seating area above the pool that draws in spectacular views as well.

So, MBC, "puzzling?"

Here's what we mean. The first-floor layout is all over the place. Up front you have 2 living/conversation rooms, with the master just off one of those living rooms, opening to it by way of large, sliding pocket doors. The only reason for this is to give the master big ocean views (the master demands it!), but it's a very unusual arrangement. You imagine someone waking from an afternoon nap and sliding open the doors to greet guests chattering in the living room.

As you make your way back along the hall, there are more bedrooms hither and thither, often up or down a couple of steps. The winding hallway branches one way to the rear bedrooms and sunny office area, and another way to the pool/yard. You did not get dizzy reading that, because we kept it simple. But walking through, you never know what's around each corner. Or up or down each step. We're really not sure anymore how many "offices," or unallocated spaces, the home actually has – we lost track.

Above the garage out back is a guest suite that could be said to have 2 separate sleeping areas, though it's probably just one legal bedroom. Utterly fantastic views from up there, one of the highest points of this lot. It could be a world-beating office if set up a bit better.

Head back inside, and more and more steps (no elevator) take you up to the kitchen and a vast spread of entertaining spaces. Everywhere, the living/entertaining areas say "more" and "luxury." Clearly, the home was built for entertaining en masse in a very showy way. A smallish family of less than 6 people is going to be phoning/texting each other all day to find out where everyone is.

Perhaps the only disappointment in this vast home: The lower/basement-level media room is quite modestly sized. It works great, but no big pluses.

About those views: The next owner of 612 John has a new lease on those incredible views to the south. That's because the folks who recently bought 600 John, the neighboring, 10,000 sq. ft. corner lot (for $4.3m), have opted to remodel the existing, low-slung '50s house and not build up. That's their plan for the foreseeable future. (See "Work in the Hills.") Is that 3 years or 30 years more of these great views? TBD.


About the sale: This is a relocation sale. In fact, the relo company took title in Oct. 2010 with a public price of $5.050m, or $400k less than the $5.450m sale price from 15 months before. Relos always sell, so this will be one to watch – perhaps quickly.

612 John starts at $5.450m and is open Sun. 1-4pm.


Sand Section

3617 Vista (4br/4ba, 2750 sq. ft.) is a newer (2007/8) home that we reviewed, memorably, in Sept. 2007 as a home that is "As Good As It Gets on Rosecrans."

Yes, Rosecrans. 

It's a factor because, as we said way-back-when (4 years ago) when the home was new, "this is a loud part of Rosecrans." Buses are toodling up the hill. Cars are gunning their engines. Open a window, and you're exposed to the constant flow of traffic.

That said, the home's got some pluses. Ocean views from its uphill location. A modern feel overall. A big kitchen/great room/living space up top. The current décor seems to max out the possibilities. They have really made it work. (In '07, we wondered where the TV was supposed to go. They found a spot.)

The configuration, with 2br on each of the first 2 floors, isn't optimal. The master isn't huge. But you get past these things, right? (We again recommend our 2007 review.)

3617 Vista was purchased in March 2008 for $1.840m, and is marked up now to $1.999m. Yes, marked up over a slightly post-bubble price.

In light of its challenges and the market's changes since 2008, we're very curious to see where Vista settles out.

3617 Vista is up at $1.999m and is open Sun. 2-4pm.


Tree Section

2509 Laurel (4br/3ba, 3650 sq. ft.) is a quite big, pleasant and updated, late-80s build with a location that can really work if you recognize the pluses.

After a 2007 purchase, the outgoing (well, gone) owners poured dollars into updates to the kitchen, master bath and flooring on the main living level, also adding A/C. As a result, the main-floor living spaces feel expansive and pretty 21st century, though you could always do more.

The flow of the main level is nice, in that guests enter into the formal dining + big living room. We debate here sometimes whether a "formal living room" is necessary or desirable. When it's a separate, small pocket out of the flow, it's often wasted space. But here the "formal" living room (up at the front) is so big, it's not a forgotten space, it's a true adult space, a complete second living room.

Meantime, the nicely outfitted kitchen opens back to the big and comfy family room at the rear, with an informal eating space, exterior patio and a little yard out back. 

In terms of bedrooms, there's a large first-floor suite with solid double doors off of a hallway that would make for a very big office, private guest room or dual-duty suite. Upstairs, the master is almost too big, with soaring ceilings with skylights, an updated bath and 2 walk-in closets. There are 2 kid bedrooms plus laundry – both kid rooms are so big they could easily accommodate double-bunking kids.

2509 Laurel could be a bit of a sensation. It hits so many buttons for frustrated Tree Section buyers: Location, bedrooms, size, price. And we didn't yet mention the shining 4-car garage.

The home starts at $1.695m – not bad.

The yardlike strip of outdoor space in back is going to disappoint. This 3650 sq. ft. house was built on a 4325 sq. ft. lot in the days when you could max out like that and skimp on the outdoor space. (New building rules would have squeezed the house in favor of a yard.)

The location will require some thinking. You easily see that the home's just one off of Valley. At the same time, it feels "connected" to the greenbelt and its easy, flat access to Live Oak Park and downtown – perhaps a 10-15 minute stroll. It's also walkable to the elementary (Grand View).

In the big picture, we see 2509 Laurel as a test of sorts.

There's a lot of talk of pent-up demand among Tree Section buyers who want a good location plus the bedrooms and square footage that this home offers. You can easily imagine this one going near full price quickly. But we have to see what actually happens.

Disclosure: We took a tour today with a client.

2509 Laurel is priced at $1.695m and is open Sat. & Sun. 2-5pm.
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