Look What's Possible on MBB

By Dave Fratello | September 6th, 2016

If you, too, were skeptical about a Manhattan Beach Blvd. condo facing the street getting almost $2M, raise your hand.

516 Manhattan Beach Boulevard Manhattan Beach CAYet they've pulled off exactly that. Last week, 516 MB Blvd. closed for $1.800M.

There's no shame in saying, "Didn't see that coming."

The 8-unit complex right at the corner with downtown was completed in 2002 and there haven't been many trades there since. The last two sales in the building were like ancient history:

1118 N. Ardmore (3br/3ba, 1815 sqft.), radically remodeled before sale, went for $1.485M in Aug. 2012. That was pretty much right as the local real estate market began to take flight in the current upcycle.

1116 N. Ardmore (3br/3ba, 1815 sqft.), looking pretty original to the 2002 build, had sold for $1.285M just a few months before, in May 2012.

Other than those two units, we see no other sales in that complex since 2005. Most of the units were originally sold in the $800-$900K range in 2002-03.

In retrospect, it shouldn't be a total shock that 516 MB Blvd. (3br/3ba, 1925 sqft.) got 21% above the highest sale, or that the mostly original unit at 516 got 40% more than the 2012 sale on a more original unit at 1116 N. Ardmore. Globally speaking, the market has moved up that much in the time since any other trades in the small complex. 

Still, $1.800M for a unit without views, whose balcony looks out at traffic and the light at Ardmore and gets more than its share of noise from all that when it is opened up – that's an accomplishment. Even if the start was a reach ($1.988M), it's the endpoint that remains impressive. PPSF was a respectable $935/PSF.

And the sale says something about the value of being adjacent to Manhattan Beach's burgeoning downtown scene, just as surely as it says anything about our real estate market in the bigger picture.

1128 Fisher Avenue Manhattan Beach CAThen, look across MBB to 1128 Fisher.

This is a tall-and-skinny, boxy 1960 duplex on a 2000 sqft. lot (tiny!) running right along MB Blvd.

A sale closed here last week, also, at a similar number: $1.769M.

Sure, that was down 9% from the original ambition of $1.950M.

How'd they get almost $1.8M here, too? Was it the elegance of the building? The "gentle beach breezes" referenced in the listing description?

No, the value seems to be mainly in the land and the location.

Location? Yes, location. Being near downtown is valued even above worries over MBB, or at least these two sales would suggest as much.

Back in June, there was a sale of a more typical MB townhome at nearly $1,000/PSF: 748 MB Blvd. (3br/3ba, 1400 sqft.), at $1.400M.

You have to go back a year prior, to June 2015, to find another comparable sale along MBB at 653 MB Blvd. (3br/3ba, 1300 sqft.) at $1.350M and $1,107/PSF. (Yes, $1,100+/PSF.)

At some point, you see the trend for what it is: Buyers increasingly see value in these more moderately priced homes because they see the location as a benefit.

Walking to town for dinner, parking the car and hoofing it to the beach, dropping in any old Tuesday on the farmer's market or just shuffling down to the Beach Vons for a bag of sugar... this kind of high-Walkscore life is something buyers value.

If you hear it every day from buyers, as we do, you can't be surprised when the numbers show the value, too.

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UPDATE: Late Tuesday, a "new" listing hit the market at 710 MB Blvd. This one had tried for 5 months already this year, beginning at $1.860M in April and going "all the way down" to $1.779M. With a new agent, they're trying a strange tactic: A "luxury auction" that will not take place for a month, with an "opening bid" price of $1.475M. One to watch, if you've got a spare month.

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