2013 in Liberty Village

By Dave Fratello | December 27th, 2013

Some years go by with very little activity in the Liberty Village neighborhood of Manhattan Beach. But this year has seen quite a mix of sales in the area, establishing a good range of comps and a sense of what buyers should expect to pay in 2014.

Even if you're not looking there, Liberty Village – just east of Polliwog Park – is typically the most "affordable" subregion of MB, so the baselines set there reflect what's happening citywide.

We'll look at the series of sales by property type.

The whole area east of Redondo Ave. and north of MBB was developed at once with nearly identical little 1000 sq. ft. cottages in the early 1950s. You can still find some of those originals. The next type is cottages that have been remodeled with some additions. Finally, comparatively rare in the LV when considered against Manhattan Beach as a whole, you have homes that were built new within the last 20 years or so, after scraping the old cottage.


The going rate for original cottages seems to be about $930K, as shown in two sales bookending the year.

1304 Lynngrove (3br/1ba, 1085 sq. ft.) sold in March at $932K. That was way over the $799K start price. The home was very original, with an odd addition in back.

Was the start price, which was wiped out in the process, a come-on, or based on comps?

In fact, it tied back to two sales from 2012: 2101 Faymont (3br/1ba, 1150 sq. ft.) at $799K in Sept. 2012 and fixer 1605 Harkness (3be/1ba, 1085 sq. ft.) at $705K in March 2012. (The link to 1605 Harkness goes to the more recent sale of a terrific flipper remodel with additions; that went for $1.095M in late October 2012.)

So, yes, there was a time when you could buy something in the LV in the 700s. But that time is not now. And we seem to have skipped the 800s completely.

1412 Faymont (3br/1ba, 1100 sq. ft.) had about the same square footage but had been remodeled. It went for $910K just a bit before 1304 Lynngrove went higher for less. The new owners made money within weeks of closing escrow.

Just across Redondo Ave., a bit outside the formal Liberty Village area, a somewhat comparable house along busy Redondo Ave. at 1650 22nd sold for $929K in October.

1409 Wendy (3br/1ba, 1100 sq. ft.) has just sold near year-end here for $937K.

You can say it's ending 2013 with the highest price for a comparable original home with a location that does not stack up as well against the $932K and $910K sales on Lynngrove and Faymont. That's a rising market for you.

Though 1409 is on the "right" side of Wendy and gets a big, sunny backyard (partly impeded by the garage in back), there's no disputing that some buyers are leery of nearby aviation and traffic coming off 12th St. and from Trader Joe's.


Here we'll look at homes that have had some extra square footage added on over the years, and/or recent refreshes. This is a fairly common property type in Liberty Village.

1825 23rd (3br/1ba, 1400 sq. ft.) is one of the most recent trades, a flipper re-do quite far east in Liberty Village, on a tree-lined block that surprised us a bit with its charms. The home sold for asking price, $1.049M, in September.

We raised some questions about the whole package in our review in August. You almost hate to see flippers go to all this work modernizing the house and still leaving just the 1 bath. But where else in MB will you find this nice of a place for about $1M?

1909 Faymont (3br/2ba, 1820 sq. ft.) got a much more extensive re-do in the early 1990s, with a master added upstairs and a big, open great room replacing what would have been a small and compartmentalized kitchen/living area in the original.

This is just about the greatest square footage you'll see in an add-on – a bit over 1800 sq. ft. – and despite its minimal curb appeal, this one had very decent living spaces and a lovely west-facing backyard.

That combination brought $1.350M in April.

We began the year 2013 with a sale at 1201 Lynngrove (3br/2ba, 1975 sq. ft.) right at asking price: $1.250M.

That's a lot of square footage, too, and also just about the most modern, perfect redo of the year that fits into this category in the LV. Oddly, the official list date was Christmas 2012, and they drew multiple offers during the holidays. (Well, if it worked, can you question their timing?) 

There was a lot to like about this home, though there was a lot of pressure on smaller-than-expected common spaces, and some buyers would never consider a home where the backyard goes up against busy Redondo Ave.

Did we mention busy streets? There were 3 sales in this category along Wendy Way.

1800 Wendy (4br/2ba, 1435 sq. ft.) sold in May for $1.050M.

This one had one more bedroom (call it a family room) and bath (stall size) than the flipper remodel on 23rd, which would be pluses. But it's on the "wrong" side of Wendy, with noisy Aviation along the back. To the plus side, again, there's tall bamboo in back – echoing off the Asian-inspired exterior and garden – which provides a decent shield against the Aviation onslaught.

This one hung around a while in Spring and sold $50K under asking.

1200 Wendy (3br/2ba, 1400 sq. ft.) is a 2br original with a recent addition in back that added a living space and smallish 3rd bedroom/office just off that living room.

It's got a 5800+ sq. ft. lot that really seems large. But location-wise, both Aviation and busy 12th St. impose a lot. That contributed to long DOM and a sale nearly $100K under asking at $964K.

2200 Wendy (3br/2ba, 1725 sq. ft.) is the anomaly of the year.

Short sales are like that. How did someone get a 1725 sq. ft. remodel for $850K, when the market suggests a number closer to $1M or over? It's a weird process that does not often produce market-rate returns.

Last but not least, the highest price for a remodel in Liberty Village this year (by $6K) came at 1813 23rd (3br/2ba, 1750 sq. ft.), which closed for $1.356M in October.

This one had just been completely redone, with the addition of a large, true master suite and the moving of walls to create a big, spacious great room with very modern kitchen.

In some ways you could say they did here what the neighbor at 1825 23rd maybe should have done.

No doubt, this one was appealing and move-in ready. It got immediate offers and they went ahead and cracked the ceiling for prices in the LV.

Newer Construction

Like anywhere else, you'll find the highest prices in Liberty Village on larger homes.

We'll start with a peak that exceeded all of our expectations. That was at 1713 Faymont (5br/3ba, 3430 sq. ft.), a big 1990 build with updates that hit $1.800M in June. 

It's not so surprising that a 5br home in Manhattan Beach could come that close to $2M. It's just that this one was in Liberty Village. The $1.8M price here blew away all the other sales in the area this year by $180K.

1608 Wendy (4br/4ba, 3625 sq. ft.) came in second with its sale at $1.620M in August.

This was the newest construction among the group, a 2009 build with a huge, open downstairs area. To the downside, this one felt blank and boxy and (obviously) backs up against Aviation.

We doubted they would hit their asking price, but they came within $10K. Don't dismiss the appeal of square footage in the ZIP code.

1712 Wendy (4br/3ba, 3535 sq. ft.) was nearby and comparably sized, sharing the Aviation liability with 1608 Wendy, so they shot for a comparable number: $1.549M. 

Instead of a quick deal, though, they ran 2+ months on market and wound up in the low $1.4s, at $1.415M in October. Not bad, just not what they aimed for.

The last one we'll look at is also one of the first listings of the whole year 2013 in Liberty Village, 2104 Harkness (4br/3ba, 3200 sq. ft.).

It was Dave's first listing of the year (co-listed with a trusted agent) and the first of 5 of Dave's listings to come out this year and to sell over asking price.

When we sat down to comp out 2104 Harkness, there was virtually nothing to compare it to for past months. We listed it at $1.549M – the consensus among the agents and sellers – and drew an immediate offer over asking price. The sale for $1.580M closed in early March, helping raise the bar for all the listings that came later.

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