High Points of 2012: Hill Section

By Dave Fratello | January 2nd, 2013
We continue our look at 2012's highlights with a look at the prestigious Hill Section.

Despite only 29 SFR sales in the Hills in 2012, there's a surprising variety of stories to tell.

Biggest $ Sale: 504 John

What we didn't have in 2012 was anything to compete with 2011's top sale, the way-over-the-top sale at 853 3rd at an eye-popping $16.0M. (See "2011: A Year of Highs, Part II.")

504 John
Much closer to earth, the top sale in the Hills this year was 504 John (5br/5ba, 4800 sq. ft.) at $4.4M.

This is a warm, opulent, well-crafted house that feels new, even if it is all of a dozen years old (2000 build date). 

It's still high enough up John to draw in very nice views to the south, west and even up toward Malibu up north.

Just about the only major shortcoming is the paucity of yard space, but that's just a choice made in the design: outdoor living spaces were prioritized over grass. Hey, there is a hoop for exercise, and you're just three blocks from Robinson school if you have younger kids you'd like to run around and wear themselves out.

Worth noting: This one saw a very substantial 60% markup, $1.65M, over the 2001 acquisition price of $2.75M. Folks, hang on to your high-dollar real estate here for a while, you just might get out with 5%/yr. profit.

Biggest Project: 704 Pacific

704 Pacific: Now
Sometimes you see a house that would be great if only...

704 Pacific (5br/7ba, 4975 sq. ft.) was one of those, boasting a prestige location and good views – some great views from the back – but that "if only" was cause for great pause. The layout was deeply flawed. The only buyer would have to be one that was ready to work.

New owners grabbed 704 Pacific for $4.250M in April and set about gutting the place. (See "Gutting 704 Pacific.")

Biggest View: 636 8th

Current house at 636 8t
636 8th is a Hill Section lot with views we've called "top-flight, quintessential Hill Section panoramas" to the south and west.

It's very special plot – 9950 sq. ft., narrow, deep, dropping down fabulously to the west, no power poles or obstructions to the terrific vistas.

This one began in February at $4.850M, a serious reach above some comparable sales nearby, and eventually closed at $4.1M, or 15% off the start.

For more, see our short video capturing those views.

Biggest Surprise: 3 Larsson Overbids

So much for Larsson being the "Oak of the Hill Section."

This year, there were 3 sales on Oak Larsson, and all were overbids.

303 Larsson
303 Larsson (3br/2ba, 1800 sq. ft.) was the huge pop early in the year.

The listing emerged in early January at $1.0M, drew immediate offers and was overbid up to $1.1M, with a sale closing the day after the Super Bowl.

So much for waiting till after the NFL showcase to launch a listing – they had notched a sale here by then.

But that was just the start of a mini-trend. While 303 Larsson was in escrow, small, neighboring 307 Larsson (3br/1ba, 1200 sq. ft.) hit the market at $830k, and wound up overbid to $885k when all was said and done. Not bad for one we called a "compromised starter home."

It took several months, but Larsson was visited by another bidding war when little 208 Larsson hit in October at $979k.

It's a smallish (3br/2ba, 1350 sq. ft.) 1950s cottage that we could not quite call "remodeled," due to so many original (even vintage) features. No matter – a quick deal, multiple offers, and a little overbid to $998k.

Biggest Deal by PPSF: 1027 Boundary

1027 Boundary
We smile just about every time we think of 1027 Boundary Place (4br/4ba, 3250 sq. ft.)

We've called it a "reasonably large, quirky, old-world European-inspired home." It's got notable views from the main living spaces, with the whole darn Hill Section down below, and plenty of ocean on the horizon.

But, yes, quirky is a good word. (We tried to get the flavor into our March open-house review.)

It took 6 solid months on market, but this one wrapped up in September at $1.475M (-$174k/-11% from start).

Go ahead and try to find $450/PSF anywhere else in the Hills – only the alley location and inherent oddness charm of this house made that kind of deal possible.

The only sale that came close was another 6-month listing on an alley street: 1034 Duncan Place, which tumbled from $2.4M asking down to a sale at $1.825M ($576/PSF) late in the year.

Sneakiest Sales

857 8th
There were a couple quick sales in the lower-to-middle range that emerged and sold quickly before almost anyone had a good look:

857 8th (4br/3ba, 1950 sq. ft.), a mid-century style home with some city views, which made an instant deal and sold for $1.335M in March.

Similar in a way is 836 11th (4br/3ba, 2250 sq. ft.), right at the corner with John, which hit the MLS in October with an out-of-area broker, never got a sign, and went pending almost instantly at $1.5M. (It's still pending so it doesn't quite count as a "sale" for 2012.) Worth noting: It's a short sale. The same place sold in 2006 for $1.899M.

Biggest Relief: 230 Anderson

Was 230 Anderson ever a $7M house?

In 2007, the owners thought so, and asked as much as $7.199M for the place, which we've called "a luxurious (maybe too luxurious) custom home... dripping with an elaborate 'French Riviera' style."

We also said it is "entirely too formal for the typical buyer, and ... [a]s currently set up, it was functionally an enormous 3br house with an atypically humungous garage, basement, workshop complex."

230 Anderson was offered in parts of 2010, 2011 and 2012, at prices ranging from $5.5M down to $4.3M. Does anyone enjoy exposing their home to market for 3 years? Doubtful.

After all that, a deal finally closed in late June at $3.950M. Relief.

Biggest Finish: 600 John

Dial back to late 2010. It was then that 600 John became available, and quickly sold.  (For $4.3M.)

The 10,000 sq. ft. corner lot gets very good views to the south and west. The only limitation: An old, crusty 1950s rancher on the property obstructing true progress and modernity. Surely it would be scraped.

But no.

The new owners knew what they wanted: The big yard, the fairly modest-sized house (listed at 5br/5ba, 3300 sq. ft.) – but the whole thing updated.

They commenced a long project, which we first noted with surprise in July 2011 (see "Work in the Hills").

Now it's over. The home's got a slick, midcentury-modern vibe. It's still just a single story, but cool.

It was ready just in time for Christmas this year.

A great way to end a big project, and 2012.


NOTE: With this first post of 2013, MBC is switching do a new convention for representing millions of dollars, from lower-case m to uppercase M. (Maybe you noticed?) That's a tiny step. We have much bigger changes coming soon. Stay tuned!

Please see our blog disclaimer.

Latest Listings Among
Manhattan Beach Homes For Sale