Sunday Opens (1/19/14)

By Dave Fratello | January 18th, 2014

If you've been sleepwalking a little through your monitoring of the Manhattan Beach real estate market for a few weeks, we understand. Until recently, the holiday season made it hard to find a lot to whoop and holler about.

Things are getting different, quickly. Interesting, quickly. Active – yes – quickly. And it's not even our "real estate Spring" yet. Wait 2 more weeks.

We'll update you on the newest open houses below.

First, we're sure you share some of the odd, mixed sense of awe and tragedy and beauty that came along with the smoke hovering over MB on Thursday. It came early, from the Colby Fire in Glendora, casting a yellow-orange pall on the first half of the day. Then, late in the day, the smoke created incredible "red sunset" scenes like this one captured by James R. Gill. Our Facebook and Instagram feeds were filled with amazing sunset shots. What a night.

NFL Extra: Let's say you like both Seattle and San Francisco – the cities and the teams. Who are you supposed to root for?

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

Tree Section

3112 Poinsettia (4br/3ba, 1750 sq. ft.) is a total and complete remodel of a home acquired in early 2013. We happened to see the original before the work began, making the contrast now with the remodel all the more amazing to appreciate.

This original cottage was built onto a downsloping lot, and now has some living space and a bedroom suite downstairs, with the family room opening to the backyard.

What you see upon first entering is an inspired take on a welcoming front great room. They opened up the ceiling and now show off bright, white T&G as a dramatic, signature feature of this common space. The big kitchen island and nice cabinetry are complemented by a subway tile backsplash and – wait, did they break from white? – an aqua-blue cabinet for the island – which matches the home's front door.

This design team brings a super-custom sense of style to their projects, reimagining what "beach cottages" can be. You see all kinds of thoughtful accents in the baths, exterior lighting, and around each corner.

We like how they found an odd storage space under a first floor bedroom and made it into a full-on kids' playroom – no adults allowed, unless they're on their bellies.

Now, it must be said, this is legally a 4br, but one of those is the guest suite downstairs in what feels a bit like a basement – but brighter. Another, near the master on the first level, is almost impossibly small – good for a nursery or study, but challenging, to be sure. This one needed (and got) sliding pocket doors to prevent the loss of floor space to an in-swinging door.

For style points and a nice location, they're shooting for $1,000/PSF in the Trees, north of Valley and east of Pacific. Only a special property can aspire to that.

3112 Poinsettia starts at $1.795M and is open Sun. 2-4pm.

3521 Palm (4br/3ba, 2775 sq. ft.) is a wide-open mid-90s build that shows pretty well, with a lush backyard garden as a nice bonus.

You can't quite overlook the location near Rosecrans and the refinery, but then again, the neighbors just sold a newer Craftsman right down the block at 3604 Palm (5br/4ba, 3260 sq. ft.) with not so many DOM and a list price of $2.2M. (It's in escrow now; nothing final yet.)

Here they're asking $1.995M and a slightly higher PPSF. (The official square footage is well under 3000, though you may not notice that in touring.)

We liked the completely open first floor. That's what everyone says they want – with the kitchen and family room in back. There's a spare bedroom downstairs as well. Check.

The step-down into the family room? Unfortunate but not fatal. In truth, though, we had some trouble understanding the broad open space between the entry and that step-down because it's not really set up now as anything. There is a formal dining room in its own nook off to the side, but was that area up front intended as a formal living room? (Do you want a formal living room?) Is it just open space for the sake of open space?

The bedrooms upstairs seemed spacious enough.

Nothing in the home is terribly updated from 1995, though nothing groans for urgent updates, if you can kind of roll with the cleaned-up versions of mid-90s tastes. At the $2M price point, you might expect to find something a little more ready-to-go, however.

We did note that the master did not open to a (perfunctory) balcony, as we might have expected. And from the backyard and the master, we heard some low hums of noise from the refinery.

No doubt, this one has its pleasant points, but also presents a series of question marks for buyers. It will be interesting to watch its story unfold as the market kicks into gear.

3521 Palm starts at $1.995M and is open Sun. 1-4pm.

Neighborhood point of interest: Across the street and a couple doors over, we spied a completely neglected old house, startling in its state of disrepair. That need not affect 3521 Palm, but it's hard to miss when visiting the property.

Sand Section

226 13th (4br/4ba, 3300 sq. ft.) is a quite large TH with ocean views absolutely in the thick of downtown.

This early-90s build benefits from some rather complete remodeling in recent years. That includes tasteful cherry-stained hardwood flooring on the top level, newer kitchen and baths, slate tile and new carpet for the balance of the living areas.

If it's not all 21st-century, it's close enough. Your calculations here are all about size and location, aren't they?

As living spaces go, if you're used to compromises from townhomes, there are a lot fewer here. The master suite is huge and looks good today. Big closet. The other bedrooms are sizable. You've got a big lower-level media room plus spare bedroom.

Up top, they actually segmented out a formal dining room and office area, in addition to the big living room with ocean views.

So, yes, there's a lot to work with here. The views seem relatively protected, because the neighboring rental building traded recently and got a bunch of upgrades – that owner would likely keep it as is for some time. (Buyer to verify, of course.)

This unit is so close to downtown that there's a municipal parking lot right outside the windows to the east. (Currently it's a staging area for the new library construction; under normal circumstances, it's where people park to go to Uncle Bill's.) People in cities compromise mightily to be in the thick of things – here there are relatively few drawbacks, though that's one.

This one's priced based on west-of-Highland TH sales over the past year in the $2.4-$2.7M range, all of them smaller.

226 13th Place starts at $2.689M and is open Sun. 1-4pm.

East MB

1163 Meadows (3br/2ba, 1500 sq. ft.) is truly a splendid, thoughtful, total redo and redesign of an original cottage.

They really did not skip a detail in modernizing this little place, making the common spaces sing by opening up the kitchen and providing true indoor/outdoor flow from there to the family room to the backyard. Even if those aren't pricey nanawalls, you're still getting the benefit of walls of glass that open and pull away and give you that fully integrated feeling that so many builders and remodelers strive for in the principal family living spaces. Nailed.

Look at the hardwood flooring. Look at the baths. The closet sliders. Paint colors and trim. All around we saw excellent work.

While the lot has a substantial upslope from (fairly busy) Meadows Ave., it flattens out and there is a quite substantial, flat backyard, newly greened up and facing the sunny western side.

So often in the past couple of years, we've seen remodelers max out the potential of original cottage-type homes. Each time, we've appreciated the spirit. Partly because preservation is the right idea, partly because this work guarantees that Manhattan Beach real estate will always include a proportion of more affordable, nicely scaled housing options – whatever our price ranges may be. Big may be good, but it isn't always better – and a smallish 3br remodel can make you see how that's true.

1163 Meadows starts at $1.299M, and there's immediate interest. Drop in at the unusual open-house time Sunday of 11am-2pm, and, if you're interested, get your agent (or someone!) to put you in the mix ASAP.

2009 Faymont (4br/2ba, 1420 sq. ft.) is a remodeled Liberty Village original with some additions.

Yes, the front living/dining areas seem small, because that's how they built these.

The way to fix that is to poke out a big family room into the former, original backyard, as they did here. (It seems to qualify as the 4th bedroom and even hosts a shower.)

Kitchen is newer and tasteful, the main bath improved just enough. No aspect of the home blows you away, but it's clean, nice and ready to go.

We did like the big, enclosed deck in back plus a bonus amount of grassy yard. It somehow seemed bigger than expected even with the (fairly standard) 5400 sq. ft. lot.

To put this listing in context, please see our recent posts: "2013 in Liberty Village" and "What $1.3M Gets in East MB."

2009 Faymont starts at $1.249M and is open Sun. 1-4pm.

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