Little Cottages Get Big Bucks

By Dave Fratello | May 21st, 2014

One way to track the Manhattan Beach real estate market is to watch what's happening with the oldest, and often smallest, homes in town.

In the Tree Section, there have been several recent sales.

Today, Dave's listing at 1600 N. Poinsettia (2br/1ba, 920 sq. ft.) just closed for $1.370M, somewhat over the asking price of $1.350M. That's a mostly original 1940s cottage that will be getting a makeover by the new owners.

Very similarly, slightly larger 1500 N. Poinsettia (3br/2ba, 1230 sq. ft.) sold 7 weeks ago for $1.399M, and will also be remodeled. (Dave represented the buyers there.)

Both of those Poinsettia homes have lot sizes a bit under what's typical for the Tree Section, at about 4200 sq. ft. each. Both drew interest from buyers who would have rebuilt new on site, but buyers willing to work with the existing homes prevailed.

On Tuesday, a fully remodeled dollhouse of a cottage at 1500 Walnut – just one block over - sold for $1.650M.

That's also a small place, at 3br/2ba, 1200 sq. ft., but wow oh wow does it look marvelous, with an open kitchen/great room up front, and a terrific sense of modern beach style across the board. No chance this was going to wind up a lot sale. The outgoing owners had saved the house by improving it.

You had to know when they listed at $1.499M that the list price was just the starting point. It was just that. Off to the races went the buyers. The end result is a PPSF in excess of $1,300/PSF, pretty amazing in the Trees.

A 1950s cottage at 2409 N. Poinsettia did wind up as a lot sale. Our information is that a spec builder grabbed the 4480 sq. ft. lot and will be rebooting that particular plot.

The dirt value at 2409 Poinsettia: $1.400M.

Somewhere in between all of these was the 2br home at 1404 Pine.

Tax records show 3br, but with a wall removed between two of those, it shows as a 2br/2ba, 1165 sq. ft. home that's been opened up substantially in the main common areas, with a lot of yard showing through the kitchen, for a nice indoor/outdoor feel.

1404 Pine came in at $1.475M.

What looks like a screaming bargain came in early in April at 1817 Oak.

There, a 2br/1ba, 1245 sq. ft. house with a western-side 4480 sq. ft. lot (the "good" side of Oak) sold for $1.030M. That's 25% cheaper than the least expensive property mentioned in this rundown.

Going back several months, 750 30th drew a monumental amount of interest (30+ offers) when the little 3br/1ba, 1150 sq. ft. original 1950s cottage was offered for $1.150M.

Climbing to the top of the pile: A bulldozer.

A spec builder paid $1.515M (according to tax records) in December and, by doing so, signaled to all that Tree Section land values were about to rocket into the stratosphere.

There's debate about what's "best" or "right" for Manhattan Beach as little, original homes find new owners. A new article in the new LA Register captures the debate. (See "Wrecking balls on the beach: Can small-town Manhattan Beach be saved?")

We're pleasantly surprised to see that most of the publicly listed, original homes sold in the Trees recently are actually going to stay standing. We're all for progress, but how can you not have a soft spot for preserving MB's original flavor, too?

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