A Landlocked Cutie

By Dave Fratello | April 12th, 2019

325 4th Street Manhattan Beach CAThere's something great about Manhattan Beach walkstreets.

No cars, ever, in front. A peaceful, beachy lifestyle with a neighborhood feel unlike almost any place else.

But in carving up the land and making up the walkstreets, our city fathers did something weird a few times: They divided some walkstreet lots in half. They put some half lots on the walkstreets, and a separate half lot in back on the alley.

Let's see now. If it's a "walk" street, and you've got the "front" half lot on the walkstreet, where do you park your car? (Or cars?)

Trick question! You don't!

There's no garage, no access to the alley.

If you have a car (some people still do these days), you can go put it on the street, of course, but there will never be that guaranteed shelter offered by a private garage.

They call homes like this "landlocked" in the city's parlance.

325 4th Street Manhattan Beach CAThis week there's a landlocked listing, and it's a darling: 325 4th (2br/1ba, 659 sqft.).

Yes, that's a little house (<700 sqft.).

But it's substantially updated, and cute enough to want to pinch.

There's just that one thing... if you have a car, or any stuff you need to store, well, it's not going here at the house. (Paging Marie Kondo!)

Start price is $1.795M, roughly half the price of a walkstreet full lot at land value.

A few years ago - seems like yesterday but it was more like 5 years - there was a sudden outbreak of landlocked half-lot homes on the market, including along the South End family walkstreets. They all performed well.

There was 329 9th St. (2br/2ba, 900 sq. ft.), a 1940s original benefiting from a gorgeous modernization, including a true master and second bath.

That one sold in Sept. 2014 for $1.440M (after a start at $1.700M).

And there was the brick house.

333 8th (1br/1ba, 765 sq. ft.) offered a series of small rooms, freshly painted and carpeted, but really wanting a true refresher at the time.

333 8th listed at $1.200M and had a deal quickly, getting bid up more than $240K to $1.447M in April 2014.

Those were both big steps up from the previous landlocked sale on the South End walkstreets at 533 5th (2br/1ba, 630 sqft.), which was stolen for $725K in June 2012. (That property was later rebuilt all but new in place. City restrictions on landlocked properties require virtually no expansion but do allow remodeling.)

Another half lot home at 124 17th (2br/1ba, 880 sq. ft.), way down next to the water, sold for $1.540M in Dec. 2013.

That was a super special case, however, because the home wasn't permanently landlocked. The rear half lot sold at about the same time to a different buyer.

The folks who bought 124 17th later flipped it to the owner of the alley half lot (125 16th Place) for a cool $2.900M, because, yeah, you should do that.

When each new buyer acquired the 17th St. half lots, there were some building restrictions preventing the half lots from merging, but they were set to expire within a few years of those sales. Eventually it made sense for there to be one owner.

325 4th Street Manhattan Beach CAComing back to 325 4th now, If there's no plan to merge lots, who can buy a half-lot cottage with no garage?

Locals.

The first people sniffing around on listings like these already live here in Manhattan Beach.

Maybe they're in the Hill Section but would like a little beach cottage for weekends, or for friends and family.

With South End walkstreet cottages/lots trading in the mid-3's consistently, we'll soon see if the first landlocked offering in a while can get basically half the full lot value, as the prior ones did way-back-when.

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