Sunday Opens (10/14)

By Dave Fratello | October 14th, 2012
In politics, as the election approaches, everyone wonders if there might be an "October Surprise." That is, some news event or twist, possibly sparked by one campaign, that could dramatically affect voters' choices as Election Day nears.

In real estate, it's different. In MB, the "October Surprise" is how many new listings keep popping up. You would think no one sets their sights on selling in the Fall. But it just happens. A lease expires, someone's life situation changes suddenly, an opportunity opens up for a great new property – suddenly, a home comes to market.

We saw 8 new listings Friday and have 7 public opens to review here. In mid-October! Surprise!

To plan your open-house tours for this week, use MB Confidential's online list of Manhattan Beach open houses (it's mobile-friendly!).

If you're thinking about getting into the market as a buyer or seller, please consider asking MB Confidential author Dave Fratello for help. For more, see MBC's Need an Agent?" page.

Hill Section

1011 Pacific (6br/6ba, 5650 sq. ft.) is a newer, big Hill Section home with surprisingly good views both westward and to the north.

To feature those views, it's got an upside-down layout. Access to the decent-sized back yard is back through an extra bedroom that was set up as a playroom when we visited – unless you really need 6 bedrooms, that's a good use of that space.

It's a pretty glorious, luxe place, but this home had a rocky history trying to sell previously. From Sept. 2008-Aug. 2010, the home was listed continuously except for 60 days, with list prices ranging from $5.995m way down to $3.650m. They posted a deal in Aug. 2010 but that didn't pan out. Now, 2 years later, it's back.

The home was purchased new in July 2004 for $3.975m.

1011 Pacific is offered now at $3.950m (no more of that pushing for $6m) and is open Sun. 2-4pm.

Sand Section

401 3rd (4br/5ba, 3425 sq. ft.) is a substantial, but not overly large home in the South End that seems more mainstream in its 2012 presentation than it was in 2008, when we saw it before its last sale.

The 1990 original had been radically remodeled in 2006, made practically new, but in 2008 was decorated in a heavy style that one MBC reader labeled a "Gothic Castle" theme.

Today, the use of stone and wrought iron as accents to a bright home give it a vaguely Spanish/modern feel. It's tasteful, welcoming and different.

And this year you can actually see all the rooms. A quirk of the 2008 offering was that a couple of rooms were off-limits. It seems one seller wasn't game on selling and sealed those off.

The first floor has bright formal living and dining rooms off the entry and a very open, bright-feeling kitchen/great room in back. Part of the ceiling is open to the second floor and its many windows, which helps greatly. Darker wood floors line the living room, light-colored stone in the great room.

Upstairs you find all 4br, including a somewhat formal master suite, with arches and stone accents to give it an Old World feeling.

A surprise: Go upstairs again for a substantial roofdeck. That's an artifact of this being a 1990 original – way back then, roofdecks were allowed, even encouraged – with the feature grandfathered in when the 2006 remodel was approved.

This one traded in July 2008 for $2.670m and is back now at the smallest of markups, to $2.750m.

401 3rd is open Sun. 1-4pm.

1406 Manhattan Ave. (3br/3ba, 2275 sq. ft.) is a taut, sharp TH with notable ocean and pier views over the rooftops across Manhattan Ave. Location is right in the thick of downtown – walk to everything.

Though it was built in 1998, it generally feels more modern. Limestone tile flooring in the hallways and stairs are timeless; the baths feel fresh. Take note: The 2 secondary bedrooms on the midlevel are compact – just enough – and even the master ain't huge. But this is city living.

What is big is the wide-open top floor with the views. High ceilings add to that open feeling. Could the flooring or cabinetry use an update at some point? Probably. The light, shiny wood is the only part of the home that made a clang as being of the 90s.

There's a 2-car tandem garage and a covered space for 3 solid parking spaces, plus the spots behind each of those, making for – arguably – 5 spaces. A necessity downtown.

1406 Manhattan last sold in May 2007, a peak year, at $1.985m. It's back now at $2.0m, and is open Sun. 3-5pm.

507 Crest (2br/2ba, 1450 sq. ft.) is hiding a very snazzy remodel behind that alley-front exterior. But it could really be called a 1br house, a reality that startled us as we toured.

A good-sized master with attached bath and patio access is the first floor. That and the garage, which we found astonishingly spotless.

Upstairs is an open, bright living space with tasteful and different wood flooring, skylights, a modern kitchen and some greenery in view. (Ficus trees on the property.) The home does feel a bit out of place, as neighbors all seem to be 3-story townhomes.

Just off the big living area is a second "bedroom" with glass doors onto the living room. Yes, you could shield those glass doors and make it a bedroom, and there is a terrific remodeled bath attached, but it doesn't look or feel like a bedroom in any other sense. It shows now as an office and just confirms the sense of the house as, perhaps, a single person's lair.

Though this won't suit the mainstream buyer, there are folks for whom this setup is dead-on perfect. A close walk to the beach and downtown. A modern, tight space. Nothing extra.

507 Crest starts at $1.225m. It is open Sun. 2-4pm.

Tree Section

724 35th (3br/2ba, 1600 sq. ft.) is strangely overdue for a sale. The property traded hands every 2-4 years from 1989 till its most recent sale in late 2004. Nearly 8 years: that's some kind of record here.

The home's a 1940s original with an unusually big, open great room at the front. High ceilings, wide spaces and a very nice, remodeled, large and open kitchen make for solid principal living spaces. They also pushed out a large deck into the backyard, inviting more outdoor living as well.

The style of the home inside now displays a love for woods – stained Douglas Fir doors, detailed carved-wood accents everywhere, the featured (and refinished) hardwood floors, built-ins. Even the backyard deck.

Baths are updated very nicely, like the kitchen.

Sure, if you're going to have 1600 sq. ft. of 1940s cottage to live in, there won't be much extra. That great room could get tight at times when everyone's around.

We should mention that you get a street-to-alley lot here, one of the reasons the home has good curb appeal. There's also a quirky note about that alley in the listing: "if alleys had a national ranking, this would be top 5." Alas, alleys are not ranked nationally (or even regionally), so we'll just have to call that a vague plus. 

The most recent sale in Dec. 2004 posted at $1.4m.

Recognizing that the $1.4m-$1.7m price range is bereft of inventory and overstocked with buyers, 724 35th starts now somewhat ambitiously at $1.585m and is open Sun. 1-4pm.

East MB

1204 Harkness (3br/1ba, 1100 sq. ft.) is a classic Liberty Village cottage with a sunny yard. It's gotten some updates but nothing ornate. It is what some look for in the LV: Small, simple, livable and (for MB) cheap.

We've seen some seriously revised and updated original cottages like this recently, but to go all the way back now and see 1100 sq. ft. layout, we were reminded of how very small bedrooms can be. And how the concept of a "master" bedroom wasn't exactly prevalent. One bath for the whole house – rough duty. Tight common spaces.

Still, call this one bright, cheery and efficient with some bonus built-in space in back – a cute little covered deck in the above-average yard. In the listing, they tout "approved plans" for a 90-sq. ft. addition to the house. 90 feet.

1204 Harkness traded just one year ago at $836k, but evidently something changed and it is back now at $889k. It is open Sun. 1-4pm.

1180 Keats (3br/3ba, 1700 sq. ft.) sure photographs well. In person, we were less impressed.

It's impossible to shake the sense of the place as a 1950s cottage that has gotten a fresh coat of paint and some fairly inexpensive and incomplete kitchen and bath upgrades.

The common spaces are fairly open, both the main living room and a separate sunroom. Hardwood floors look nice. 

The listing description actually announces that this property is "[c]lose to Mira Costa H.S.," which is certainly true, but more a concern than an asset. As we visited Friday, the streets were teeming with teens, teen drivers and parents and sitters picking up teens. We've often observed clients reacting to school proximity: elementary nearby, great; high school nearby, hmmm.

Comp note: Somewhat smaller (1250 sq. ft.) 1190 Keats sold in August – after 6 months on market – for $935k. That one was notably more dolled up and cute, though the small yard was consumed entirely by a pool.

1180 Keats starts at $933k and is open Sun. 3-5pm.

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