Low End Heating Up

By Dave Fratello | January 22nd, 2009
For the first half of January, the only 3 sales (new escrows) that posted were all very challenged homes, borderline teardowns:
  • 2500 Oak (pictured), a small (3br/2ba, 1350 sq. ft.) home in one of the worst locations west of Sepulveda at Marine and Sepulveda, last at $789k (see "A New Low");
  • 539 23rd, a cramped, funky older home with tiny bedrooms (technically 4br/2ba, 1900 sq. ft.) and a long honey-do list before move-in day, last at $1.395m; and
  • 612 11th, last priced at $1.199m, below its 2007 acquisition price (as discussed recently in "Hill Happenings").
Also, late in 2008, a similar home at 772 Rosecrans sold quickly, priced at $798k.

This week, 505 Anderson (4br/2ba, 1850 sq. ft.), a major fixer that hit the market at an eye-opening $799k, vanished just as suddenly with multiple offers. (For some reason, at this writing, the link still works, though the property is posted as pending.)

That's 5 sales at what must be called the low end. These are not all going to work out to be lot sales.

People want into MB. Some will take the lower-priced, old-fashioned, needs-work inventory to get in.

Now, no one is going to pretend that $800k, or $1.4m, is a trifling amount of money. But for Manhattan Beach, these are some of the lowest prices in recent memory.

Also, look back just 10 months to Kaye Thomas' story about how "starter homes" had fallen out of fashion. (See "Starter Home? No Thanks!")

Maybe something has changed.

Maybe "starters" are back. Maybe elbow grease is back. Maybe bulldozers can take a well-deserved break.

To be sure, there's a bit of action in other tiers of the market, mostly bargain-hunting, too. But if this past month's sales are any indication, small, cheap and challenged are what's "in" for '09.

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