People Want Manhattan Beach Dirt

By Dave Fratello | October 19th, 2018

We were discussing some comps recently with clients and made a few matter-of-fact references to some recent sales as "lot sales."

One client, bless her, smiled and tried to suppress a chuckle. On about the third reference, her eyes widened and she just let out the amazed laugh that was trying to get out.

"You're calling all of these lot sales. But there are houses on them! Some aren't even 50 years old! I guess that's just Manhattan Beach now!?"

Yes. That's Manhattan Beach now.

Depending on the area, just about any structure can be obsolete for its location. We're seeing teardowns of 20-25-year-old homes in prime spots. Certainly, an older home that fails to maximize its lot, or lacks features that today's buyers want, could be near its expiration date.

Builders are still buying lots for spec homes, and there are plenty of other buyers actively looking for land to build a home for themselves.

Here's just a sampling of recent land-value sales around MB:

113 27th Street Manhattan Beach CA113 27th is a 2725 sqft. lot at the corner of Ocean Drive and 27th St., near Bruce's Beach Park.

We found the views from a potential 3rd floor there could be astonishing. (See our post with drone video: "Ocean Views to Write Home About.")

The property came to market in escrow with a builder, but fell out.

After $400K in cuts to $5.199M, it's now got a buyer.

If you lived in one of the 3 units in the building, you might not view it as a "lot sale."

But the value of a Strand-adjacent corner lot with unblockable 3rd-floor views is very high. Higher than the potential return on a 2-story triplex.

Look to East Manhattan.

There are two recent sales (new escrows) here.

1245 3rd Street Manhattan Beach CAOne is an extraordinary offering at a lot that's bigger than double the typical Manhattan Knolls Mira Costa neighborhood lot.

1245 3rd is 16,797 sqft. with a nice little elevation to the lot.

The listing notes that there is an existing 3300 sqft. split-level ranch-style home on the land now.

Y'know, maybe that's exactly what someone wants, and they're just going to plant trees and vegetables all over the lot. But we're not betting a dime on the time capsule that is that ranch house getting too far into 2019.

The asking price for 1245 3rd was $4.600M, and it sold immediately.

The other, 1612 Chestnut, came to the MLS asking $1.250M and went immediately into escrow. That sale may have been pre-arranged and its market time a little bit artificial. Not certain.

Finally, up in the Hill Section there's a lot that straddles the area's ocean-view side and non-ocean-view "city side."

837 9th Street Manhattan Beach CA837 9th is a lot on a corner at John St. that is a bit small for the Hill Section: 5575 sqft.

Go a bit further down John, and the views are among the best in the city.

Look down 9th St. from a hypothetical 2nd story at this property, and really what you'll have is a thin line of blue down 9th St.

What the plot lacks in specific views is, evidently, made up for by proximity to glamour.

About 2 years ago, a buyer grabbed the opportunity of this lot for $2.700M off-market.

Changing gears, that buyer is now a seller. 837 9th was asking $3.595M and now has a deal in less than 3 weeks.

People want the dirt Manhattan Beach has got.

It doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be available.

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