Action in the Teens

By Dave Fratello | August 16th, 2011
View down winding 18th St.
Nestle up close to downtown, west of Highland, without a Manhattan Ave. to worry about.

Drink in the ocean views, hear the waves lapping at the shore, brace yourself against the cool summertime breezes.

All around you, find a mix of homes trying to maximize space and views, with a few very, very original cottages – early 1900s originals – barely hanging on, reminding you that Manhattan Beach was once a difficult beach frontier, before those $100 speculative plots ballooned in value to $2m, $3m or more.

These are the few prime walkstreets north of downtown, 16th-20th St., a little pocket with some of MB's choicest beach-close properties. (Note to sticklers: We'll count 20th St. in the "teens" for purposes of this writeup.)

As a bonus for an already valuable area, power poles recently came down, improving views for everyone. Here are some recent and noteworthy sales:

129 16th (4br/4ba, 4040 sq. ft.) brings you close down to the water; if you've sent the kids or guests down to the beach, you'll be able to pick them out on the sand below. That's the 100 block for you.

The home is 1991 original by a noted local architect, a modern design (for the era) that has been featured by past Snoops tours.

Though the home has some updates, it would be no surprise to see the new owners put some work into bringing the home current.

129 16th was offered for $3.850m this Spring, and closed at $3.550m in mid-June.

222 17th (5br/4ba, 4275 sq. ft.) is the most recent sale in the area, and it nearly sets a high-water mark with a close last month at $4.653m.

The home, while feeling utterly new and certainly in a future-forward 21st-century style, is actually a radical rebuild of a 90s-vintage duplex, not new construction.

The completed product shows the potential to keep the basic 4 walls of a dated property together and get yourself a terrific new home in the end. (A slideshow of the listing pics with music is online here.) Now, though we do (obviously) think this home was a big accomplishment, we must note that of the 5br listed, 2 on the first level were quite small, limiting the buyer pool and market value somewhat.

The folks who did the remodel bought this property at about the market peak in March 2007 for $3.7m before undertaking their massive project. They started the listing last Fall at $5.25m, but only came down to $5.1m in their public asking price. The sale at $4.65m is a further 9% off, and the shocker is that the sale probably doesn't pay for the work done or the carrying costs on the home.

204 16th (4br/5ba, 4300 sq. ft.) literally does set the high-water mark for recent, publicly reported sales in the teens, with a recent trade at $4.7m.

The newer (2007) Mediterranean home has a heavy, serious, luxurious feel to it all around. Great ocean views from the living room in back, and very decent views down the walkstreet in front as well. (An online slideshow is here.)

204 16th popped up ever-so-briefly in March and immediately had a buyer. The sale closed in May.

A developer grabbed the lot here in 2005 for $2.685m and unloaded it to the family who had the new home custom built for $2.9m in Feb. 2006.

132 20th (5br/5ba, 4000 sq. ft.) is another 100-block location to sell this year above $3.0m – not as high as 129 16th's $3.550m, but at $3.3m instead to reflect the home's complete need for a top-to-bottom re-do.

As we said of the home late last year: "the mid-80s vintage of the home is dominant. Stylistically, it isn't quite beachy or contemporary, but some compromise between them. Updates are rare."

As is often the case with the even-numbered, north-facing homes on these walkstreets, the best views from 132 20th are actually from the rear, with a big, top-floor patio/deck/outdoor room off the kitchen and dining room showing those views off.

132 20th began at $3.750m in June 2010, running several months (with a holiday-season break) before posting a deal in February and closing in April at $3.3m.

219 16th
Another recent sale was made off-market at 219 16th (4br/4ba, 4185 sq. ft.), which fetched $3.3m in June.

Despite the 1997 build date, the exterior is pretty sharp and doesn't cry out for radical work.

The location further up the hill on 16th affords big views without being too close to Highland, a nice combination if you're not going down into the 100s.

The building also offers a rental unit in back on 16th Place.

Getting away from the very most recent sales, let's look at some other fairly recent highlights in the teens.

200 19th
In the bubble/post-bubble era, the highest-dollar sale in the teens was 200 19th (5br/4ba, 4200 sq. ft.), a brand new Cape Cod that sold in March 2008 for $5.6m, defining the market peak for new construction on these downtown-adjacent walkstreets. (See "High/Low Prices for 2008.")

204 19th (4br/4ba, 4260 sq. ft.), the next-door neighbor, pretty much scooped out the bottom of the market. It's a big, newer (2006) Mediterranean not altogether different from 204 16th, referenced above as a recent sale at $4.7m. But 204 19th had a problem of terrible timing and preposterous pricing that led to a great fall.

Acquired new in Aug. 2006 by former Dodgers pitcher Derek Lowe for $5.0m, the was offered back for 2 years, finally settling for $3.9m in May 2010. (See "Way Lowe-r.") Probably this sale defined the low end for values of newer homes in the teens.

228 20th
Also last year, 228 20th (5br/4ba, 4150 sq. ft.) carved out a low of sorts for 90s homes needing some work, selling in March 2010 for $2.812m.

The build's just 1999, not exactly an aging patient, but as you'll see from the pics, the interior – with its terrific, big views – looks much better than the outside, which bears a dated design and, as it stands now, really wants a refresher.

As with the Lowe house on 19th, this listing suffered as a result of bad timing and vast overpricing, beginning at $3.899m in Dec. 2008, running more than a year before finding its level more than $1m below that.

Our last stops on this tour will be over on 17th, beginning with one more cautionary tale about starting out too high.

121 17th - Reagan's Suit Refashioned
We must be talking about Reagan's Suit, aka 121 17th, a smallish (3br/3ba, 2200 sq. ft.) and very peculiarly laid-out home that we recently said had begun "horrifically overpriced at $3.999m in late 2009."

It took a while, but Reagan's Suit went for $2.6m in May 2010, potentially setting up a new low for lot values in the area. Then 2 things happened.

First, the new owners of Reagan's Suit shed the old garments and redid the place in a very smart way (pictured). (See "Reagan Comes to the 21st Century.") This made the purchase look all the more like a bargain, since it was a lot-value sale where they actually found value in the structure. Bravo.

Next, the neighbor one to the west, 117 17th, sold off-market for more: $3.050m in July last year. This had the effect of underscoring further what a steal the Reagan buyers got while propping up land values again in the 100 blocks.

Current market offerings in the teens all seem to have 3s in front, including a lot sale over on 19th. We'll see how they settle out in comparison to the other recent activity. 

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