High Points of 2013: Hill Section

By Dave Fratello | December 30th, 2013

Let's start our walk back through the data for 2013 with a look up.

This was a year in which the prestigious Hill Section had its fair share of sales (34 as of this writing), but no stratospheric numbers, as the highest-priced homes in the area did not sell.

Here are the top sales, and some other notable ones.

New Construction

502 N. Dianthus (5br/6ba, 4700 sq. ft.) is a "modern plantation" style home built on spec. It's both the priciest new construction sale of the year and the top sale overall for the Hill Section in 2013 at $4.250M.

Just about everything in the home feels big. The great room in back is built with both disappearing glass doors to the back patio and glass over an indoor/outdoor bar/countertop that folds away as well. A huge basement with a spare bedroom adds to what already feels like a large home.

What's surprising here is that there's no yard to speak of and no views, either, unless you count the city/mountain views from the master looking north. It's something, but not the ocean panoramas you might expect to be seen along with the top price in the Hills.

Price detail: The MLS listing for this property shows the final sale price as $4.165M. Public records show $4.250M. The difference has to do with a commission credit. Sometimes those credits are reflected with artificially inflated sale prices in the MLS, a practice we dislike strongly. Here, you have something of the opposite.

1026 1st (4br/5ba, 4000 sq. ft.) came in more than $1M below the top sale at $3.220M, even though it has the big ocean views you hope for.

In a review, we called 1026 1st "clearly some of the best work by this particular local developer," noting the "pleasing Santa Barbara-inspired exterior," and rustic flooring, but fretting also about some off-key notes and cheaper materials in spots.

The upside-down layout puts the great room up top with a good-size balcony that just drinks in terrific PV and ocean views from the back of the house – and looking over newer homes, you know these views are for real and forever.

This one shot for $3.500M, hung around 6 months and made a deal 8% under start price.


1031 Duncan

The Craftsman style is pretty rare in the Hill Section and Manhattan Beach, but this year there were two resales of Craftsman homes (Craftsmen?) built by the same builder.

1031 Duncan (4br/4ba, 4200 sq. ft.) listed at $2.799M and sold for more: $2.825M.

That's a lot of house for the money, and it includes a basement family room. From its position high up Duncan (and kinda near Sepulveda), you have that wonderful sense of a panorama of hillside, PV and ocean that just goes on forever. The upside-down layout captures it nicely from the common spaces.

Lower down the Hill and nearer to town, 624 6th (4br/4ba, 3450 sq. ft.) was notably smaller but sold for more: $3.500M.

In this case, you can point to location advantages and the great views, plus some fun features of the home itself, as explanation. The top floor, for instance, includes an enclosed patio with doors that can pull back to make a complete indoor/outdoor room. As we noted in our review of the open house, this space was probably inspired by the "sleeping porch," a turn-of-last-century home design innovation that's found, for instance, in the landmark Gamble House. (Hat tip to Mrs. MBC for that note.)

624 6th had sold new in 2006 for $3.400M, so it was up a little tick here in 2013.

Other Top Sales

The recently closed $3.800M sale at 930 John (5br/7ba, 5400 sq. ft.) marks the high point for non-new construction in the Hills.

The home is on the city view side of the hill, looking toward downtown LA, does not feature much of yard – really just a stone patio in back – and is built in an ornate "Tuscan" style that seems to have passed from fashion. Despite those potential concerns for buyers, it went $300K over asking.

The spec builder had initially had trouble with this one in 2008 due to the collapse of the financial world right as the home came to market. A $4.995M aspiration was too much, and by early 2009 they sacrificed it for $3.700M.

This year's sale was, thus, $100K over the number hit in one of the lowest points in this market in the last several years.

711 11th St. (5br/6ba, 4400 sq. ft.) was narrowly eclipsed by 930 John late in the year, otherwise it would have taken top honors among resales.

The sale price here in May was $3.720M, off market, though the property may appear familiar to you due to its 5 months+ on the market in 2012 (at $3.799M).

Another Tuscan! Who would have bet on the Tuscans this year? This one compares nicely to 930 John, with a nice ocean glimpse (currently, with the neighbor still an original home), and similar ornate style. The grassy courtyard on the first floor among the hallways to the bedrooms is a nice touch.

Fixer of the Year

We've found that plenty of people (including Mrs. MBC) were inspired by 810 1st St. (5br/6ba, 5000 sq. ft.), even though the early-80s build cried out for a complete re-do inside.

At $4M to start for a fixer, this one was a little rich for most. But the potential was clearly there, and the location and big (9400+ sq. ft.) lot a nice attraction. Ocean views from multiple bedrooms upstairs, an enormous yard on the sunny southern side, walk to school, beach and town... nice combination.

The buyers got it for $3.525M and are under way on their renovation.

Flip of the Year

Whether they meant it or not, the owners of 707 Anderson (5br/4ba, 3800 sq. ft.) just executed a marvelous flip by transforming the home they acquired in Sept. 2011 for $1.500M.

They fixed problems, moved walls and fully modernized this large Spanish home on a smallish lot. The work was done with a sense of class and luxury. They never had to open the house to the public, making their deal after just a series of private showings.

Sale price: $2.550M in November, a cool million-dollar markup over 2 years after that extensive re-do.

Ocean View Sale of the Year

There are few affordable Hill Section homes with more compelling panoramas than 219 N. Dianthus (4br/4ba, 3300 sq. ft.). It's got a great perch at the absolute peak of the hill and is built to maximize the views.

As we noted in "Great Views, Big Scores," this one had trouble selling previously, in 2010-2011, finally trading for $1.750M in Summer 2011, in an off-market transaction.

They put it up this year and sold quickly, closing in September for $2.370M, a quick 35% markup with really no changes inside that we could identify over the preceding 2 years. It was just a rapid uptick in market value of more than $600K.

Lot Sales of the Year

We haven't seen super-prime dirt like last year's $4.1M sale at 636 8th hit the market this year, but we did see a few compelling lot sales, all hitting what seem to be new peaks for lot values:

629 6th is a 7000+ sq. ft. lot low on the Hill but with good views over rooftops toward PV. The land sold for $2.700M, over the asking price by $200K.

200 John is a 5000 sq. ft. lot, also low on the Hill with similar views to the 6th St. home, made somewhat wider by the expanse of 2nd St. opening up the vista to the southwest. Dave's clients got this one for $1.800M in a multiple-offer situation. The existing home is livable, but will be replaced in time.

1026 Pacific is a 6000 sq. ft. lot at the top of 11th St. and a bit close to MB Blvd. This one sold for $1.680M and new construction is anticipated there shortly.

Head-Scratcher of the Year

Just about all of those sales above make sense on their own terms.

One sale this year did not: 845 10th (4br/2ba, 2200 sq. ft.) at $1.059M in January.

It was a short sale, which may be all you need to hear to know that the sale was handled in unusual ways by out-of-area agents.

In January, $1M was not the market value. It's certainly not now here in December. For the 6000 sq. ft. lot alone, they could get $1.4-$1.5M today.

If we said all we really thought, we'd probably be hearing from someone's lawyer. So we'll call it the steal deal of the year for the area, the main detriment of which, for the buyers, is having to fend off constant inquiries of whether they'll sell at market rate now.

That's our look at the Hill Section. More over the next few days on the other parts of town. Happy new year to you!

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