Challenging Half Lots in the North End

By Dave Fratello | March 6th, 2015

Let's face it.

As nice as Manhattan Beach is, not every property here is beautiful.

Not every location is awesome, just because it comes with our ZIP code.

But still, if someone's gonna sell, someone's gonna buy. Folks just need to work out the math on what a challenging location really means to the overall value.

We're thinking of that with respect to 3 recent offerings in the North End of the Sand Section.

Just short of Rosecrans, you have:

462 36th Place Manhattan Beach CA462 36th Place (2br/2ba, 1150 sq. ft.) is one of the more awkward remodels we've seen in recent years.

You have to give credit for how some past owner tried to add square footage on this smaller-than-half-lot plot of 1267 sq. ft., by building up 3 stories on part of the property. There's a little tower that pops up in back, hosting a master and bath and some bonus space. (In a past version of this house, that was more of an open loft area, with a dangerous staircase up.) There seems to be a little view when standing on the balcony.

Still, despite the newer windows and smooth stucco, there's no disguising that this one is a smallish and very different house in a subpar location. 36th Place is an alley street just up from Rosecrans. Its main pluses are being west of Sepulveda and walkable to tacos and surf.

We've watched this one on the market before. In 2007, shortly after acquiring the property for $760K off-market, the new owner tried for a quick flip at $929K. No no no, said the market. Later, though, in 2008, they got $825K. Then the newest (current) owner set about a (much-needed) remodel.

In 2011, this one was in more like its current condition and was offered for $925K, down to about $850K. No sale.

Here we are in rip-roaring 2015, and it's up at $1.275M – 50% higher than it did not sell for in 2011.

440 35th Place Manhattan Beach CAWho knows what they can get for 36th Place, but hope springs eternal, because just about 100 feet away, 445 35th Place just sold for $1.050M.

That was $50K over asking.

This is a 2br/1ba, 596 sq. ft. place with, ostensibly, a 1350 sq. ft. size half lot. 

In this case, it's another alley street – like 36th Place above. Plus, there's another issue.

This little property feels almost like it's part of adjoining 445 35th Street, a 1.5-lot home that surrounds it in something of an L-shape. That's for good reason. Until very recently, both this alley half lot and the home next door were owned by the same owners.

From researching the property for a client, we learned that this half-lot property seems to have some development restrictions that make it effectively less than a full half-lot in size. You could still build 3 stories, presumably, on this little alley plot, but with less internal square footage because of a need for deeper setbacks from the property lines.

We're kind of rooting for it to stay close to its current condition as a little beach shack. (Disclosure: Dave is friendly with the neighbors.)

Regardless, it is really something to see what people will pay $1M for here.

225 36th Street Manhattan Beach CAWest of Highland, by a little, there's another half lot looking for a buyer at 225 36th St.

(There's a 1br/1ba, 725 sq. ft. house there, but we sincerely doubt that it's got a future.)

Here, the issue is not just being so far north at 36th St., or being just one door off of Highland. (Traffic noise seems to be a factor.)

Add to the mix the neighbor to the east: The parking lot/structure of a popular Mexican restaurant/institution.

The listing came out several weeks ago at $1.650M. There was some support for a figure like that from other parts of town, but it was going to take time to see what the location would mean for this specific offering.

After a spell, they found a buyer. But now the buyer's gone, and the property is back, asking less: $1.549M.

That old saw about how it's worth $1M more to be west of Highland may not apply here. It's "only" priced $500K above the alley half lot on 35th Place.

They'll figure it out.

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