Didn't They Just Buy That, Too?

By Dave Fratello | November 10th, 2011
We've had an uncommon run of déjà vu recently.

The scraper at 668 31st.
This week it's the return of 668 31st to the public market that had us saying, once again, "Hey, Didn't They Just Buy That?"

In fact, they did, but it was a year and a couple extra weeks ago that 668 31st last traded. Seemed recent, but nothing like the 5 weeks and 5 months between 2 other purchases and returns to market that we've written up here.

This corner-lot property – on one of MB's great streets – was always going to be a land deal, with the crusty 1940s bungalow mostly beyond repair and the lot unkempt and overgrown. The property was offered "as-is," no repairs... a scraper.

This story actually started 2 years and a couple extra weeks ago, when 668 31st first hit the market at $1.350m – ambitious for a smaller plot (4200 sq. ft.).

That price lasted about 3 months, and came down to $1.1m in early 2010. Another full 8 months passed before a buyer knocked.

Intriguingly, the buyer paid a little more: $1.150m, closing in late Oct. 2010.

OK, the lot settled last year at $1.150m. And now that it's back?

Now the same corner-lot property can be had for $1.299m, just a little under the start price from '09.

Déjà vu all over again.

One difference: Now we see what this property could become. Plans for a new "coastal plantation" home have been approved, and sketches are provided in the listing.

They plan to dig out a basement on the northern end of the lot, enabling a fairly big home, overall (5br/4ba, 3600 sq. ft.). There's some landscaped space in back, plus usable area over the garage.

It's a fairly big custom project. Our info is that the sellers intend to proceed with the build, and are inclined to sell the finished product, though they may just move in. It's somewhat up in the air. Obviously, from the listing, they'd be happy to take a little profit and move on.

If someone wants the land now, they can take that. And if you run with the plans, hiring a builder yourself, frankly you probably save $200k-$400k over what you'd spend for the spec project after completion. The comprehensive cost is hard to nail down with that basement in the plans, however – though it's a smart way to maximize a smaller lot, it's a pricey add-on to the build.

About A Box: On the northeast corner of the lot there's a sizable metal box owned by Verizon. (You can see it in the lower-left of the snapshot up top.) Evidently it has to do with providing internet service in the area – which we support. But the box is not now set to move at all; so far, Verizon has said something like, "go ahead and landscape around it, but we're not moving it."

CAD Tree Fantasy: Did you notice the nice palm tree in the sketch? In the same spot now is a towering eucalyptus. It's more likely in the computerized world of the architect than in the real world of Manhattan Beach's tree ordinance that you'll be replacing the euc, but TBD.

Back to the basic question: With this same lot having been exposed to the market for about a year recently, at a lower price but with no takers, how do you like the prospects for a resale of the dirt at a markup?

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