Sunday Opens (5/5)

By Dave Fratello | May 4th, 2013

Did you notice the little pickup in inventory late in the week?

We had just bemoaned in our April 30 market update that there were just 38 offerings in MB – and then came a little flood. By Saturday, we were up to a whopping 52 offerings citywide.

Many of these came in at the higher end, but more is simply better, isn't it? 

There were plenty of new homes to see this week and review.

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

Hill Section

1023 9th (4br/3ba, 2500 sq. ft.) is a 1950s original that's been added onto, stretched out and even given a bonus guest house in the backyard. It will be a project for the next owner. (The listing calls it a "wonderful opportunity," which is different from, say, "turnkey.")

Most of the materials in the home are of middling quality (Pergo flooring, old carpet), the baths are basically original and cramped (except the master bath), and the layout isn't precisely conventional. But on the plus side, there is quite a bit of common space spread out in two long areas of the first floor; one family room opens to a large deck.

The big 7500 sq. ft. lot should give you a big yard, but then there's that guest house now tucked away in back. That little unit might perfectly meet someone's needs, but for now it takes up a goodly chunk of yard and splits up the balance of the outdoor space. You might consider ditching it.

The basic layout here gives you 3 smallish-to-medium bedrooms downstairs plus a pretty large master over the garage. As we noted above, the master bath is almost the most updated feature in the house – thought not 21st century-caliber – and is pretty sizable in its own right. If you don't mind the master up/kids down layout, this could work, or the room might make for a big extra family room/playroom. That is, if you choose one of the downstairs bedrooms as a master (and share the hallway bath).

Whoever gets this one is going to be putting some work in to try to revive the place; the question is how much, and do you wind up with something great in the end?

1023 9th starts at $1.500M and is open Sun 1-4pm.

1026 1st (4br/5ba, 4000 sq. ft.) is something we have not seen in a very long time in the Hill Section: New construction with ocean views. And it's "only" $3.5M to start, not bad given the views and size.

It's clearly some of the best work by this particular local developer, with a pleasing Santa Barbara-inspired exterior, interesting rustic flooring, and finishes that range from pretty nice to great. (Alas, there is the occasional off-key note, like vinyl windows and sliders in spots.)

The upside-down layout puts the great room up top with a good-size balcony that just drinks in terrific PV and ocean views from the back of the house. You're looking over newer homes, so you know these views are for real and forever.

All bedrooms are on the entry level, and a large bonus room is on a lower level. The lot slopes down toward the back, a fact which is not apparent from the front at all, so the lower-level entertainment room is a nice surprise.

1026 1st starts at $3.5M and is open Sun. 1-4pm.

Sand Section

308 Manhattan Ave. (3br/3ba, 1700 sq. ft.) is an SFR with decent ocean views and a pleasant, remodeled feel – although the 2002 remodel may not match up all the way to current tastes. (For instance, we find maple flooring perfectly nice and beachy, but suddenly everyone wants dark walnut, or maybe some kind of wide-plank oak.)

You enter on the middle level up a flight of outdoor stairs, and this is really just 2-level living, not your typical TH layout with one bedroom stuck along with the garage downstairs.

There's really just the one common room serving triple duty: Kitchen, formal dining and your living room. It works, but could get cramped with too many people around too often.

One bedroom on the level with the living spaces is somewhat small, but it has this plus: It opens to a little patio with a bubbling hot tub.

Upstairs each bedroom gets its own bath, but the master suite is really where it's at. Not only do you get lying-down views of the ocean over rooftops across the street, there's also a built-in office at the front corner, which may be a great place to work, or very distracting. We'd give that a shot to find out.

308 Manhattan Ave. last sold in June 2006 for $2.200M, and is offered now at $2.299M. It is open Sun. 2-4pm.

204 16th (4br/5ba, 4300 sq. ft.) is a lower walkstreet home on one of the great Ocean-to-Highland teen streets near downtown.

The newer (2007) Mediterranean home has a heavy, serious, luxurious feel to it all around. Great ocean views from the top-floor living room in back, and very decent views down the walkstreet in front as well.

View bonus: The power poles are gone, as of just a couple years ago.

As is common (and most requested) for a walkstreet home like this, you've got an entertaining room on the bottom floor, connecting to a patio on the walkstreet, bedrooms on the midlevel, and living spaces up top, nicely integrated with private, outdoor decks.

This one traded 2 years ago, almost exactly, in May 2011, for $4.700M.

204 16th starts now at $5.295M, a price which comes in well below some recent "teen street" sales as well as other 100-block sales, but nonetheless also represents a markup of +$595K (+13%) over just 2 years. Well, they were 2 eventful years. We're in a different place today.

204 16th is open Sun. 1-4pm.

Tree Section

605 13th (3br/2ba, 1700 sq. ft.) feels like the Sand Section but fits within our "Tree Section" designation within MB. The lot sizes, the nature of typical homes in the area and the development rules – those all feel beachy.

You'll see ocean from the top-floor living room's huge picture window – along with PV and (surprise) lots of treetops.

The home is a boxy 1960s original, which they call "restored" in the listing, but that's unfair to the work that's been done. It's modernized, without almost any stone unturned in a head-to-toe re-do that has just been completed. (Small demerits for some hallway cabinet doors and closet sliders that were left original.) It's stylish, and move-in ready.

Layout-wise, you have to cope with bedroom separation (1 upstairs with the living spaces, 2 down) and the lack of a true master. (Mr. and Mrs. Master need to share a hallway bath with (a) a kid or guest, if on the first floor, or (b) everyone in the living spaces, if choosing upstairs.

These are things you kind of roll with to live near the beach, get views and walkability to downtown (and school). And here are some bonus points for watching a 60s house get revived rather than razed.

Oh, about that... Based on the development rules in this exact area, you'd calculate that the home could be developed to 3 stories and 3375 square feet some day. But no. There's a newly instated "deed restriction" that limits the height permanently to the building's current roofline. So take it as it is, don't expect to take it up.

605 13th starts at $1.499M and is open Sun. 1-4pm.

2904 Pacific (3br/2ba, 1100 sq. ft.) (3br/2ba, 1100 sq. ft.) is quite cute, boasting nice, newer wood flooring and a newer kitchen that's sizable for a 1000-odd-square-foot house. There's a nice little yard in back, in addition to 2 patios.

And the huge 3-car garage in back is a nice bonus – you could easily see using some of that space as an extra game room.

Of some concern, however: None of the 3br is in any way spacious, including the one you would have to call the master in back. Just big enough for a bed and maybe a couple small pieces of furniture, plus a quite small bath with a small, tile, stall shower that would be a bit claustrophobic. And that's the "master."

The driveway accessing the garage in back is shared with the neighbor – an unusual arrangement in MB. On the plus side, the neighbor has outfitted the rear area of the driveway with a full-blown sports court, and you ought to be able to share.

This home sold only last year, not even fully 12 months ago, at $873K. Since then, the owners have performed a series of systemic improvements, including new roof, water heater, siding, insulation, wiring, sewer line and drainage system. They're important things you wouldn't spot readily.

They say this is not a "flip" really, just that the new owners' plans changed suddenly.

If that's going to happen to you, you want it to happen in a rapidly rising market.

They're starting 2904 Pacific at $1.095M, or +$222K/+25% over last year. It's open Sun. 1-4pm.

3305 Laurel (5br/5ba, 4300 sq. ft.) is an extra-big and serious "Tuscan" inspired home that has never actually sold since its completion in 2007.

Call it unfortunate timing: Putting out a new home in sight of the refinery at $3.750M in Summer 2007 was not fated to work out well. They tried, but even cuts closer to $3.3M by Spring 2008 weren't nearly enough. The property rented out instead.

Now it's back on the market $500K lighter than when last seen, at a time when $2.5M-$2.8M for relatively average-sized new and newer construction is becoming the norm. And here you've got 4300 sq. ft., thanks to a huge basement bedroom plus entertainment room. Suddenly the new price of $2.799M looks within range.

There's no dismissing the ambition and quality of the construction here. It feels authentic and old-world.

Layout is a bit unusual, with the dining room, kitchen and family room on one level, opening to a mostly hardscaped courtyard, then formal living up a half flight of stairs. The 4 real bedrooms are on the top level, a couple in odd shapes, nothing particularly large. We liked the master bath somehow for its sheer different-ness.

They dug out a basement here, and man is it huge. It's enough space to carve out into 2-3 separate entertaining spaces – theater, pool room, play room/band practice room. One large room behind a door qualifies as the 5th bedroom, thanks to a (large) closet and the bath on the bottom floor.

3305 Laurel is priced at $2.799M and is open  Sun. 1-4pm.

927 27th (5br/6ba, 4240 sq. ft.) rhymes a little bit with 3305 Laurel, above, in that it is a newer (2007) build with a pretty committed, heavy, old-world style. It's also one of the rare Tree Section properties to have ever netted more than $3m.

The home's big and luxurious, a cut above most newer builds. The original home was customized further by the current owners with upgrades to kitchen cabinetry, the master suite and the installation of a housewide (and exterior) sound system. An authentic, wood-burning pizza oven outside is another personalized plus, while the wine room downstairs has been properly insulated and has its own cooling system.

With a smaller-than-normal lot (3940 sq. ft.), the large home is laid out somewhat more like a Sand Section house, with 3 levels – 3 full bedroom suites upstairs, one on the middle/entry level (now set up as an office) and a fifth on the lowest level. The best surprise may be the big home theater downstairs, with a separate room for DVD storage and equipment and yet another private room in back.

927 27th was purchased in Aug. 2007 for $3.150m, tried but did not sell in 2011, and is offered now at $2.895M. It is open Sun. 1-4pm.

East MB

1200 Wendy (3br/2ba, 1400 sq. ft.) is a 2br original with a recent addition in back that added a living space and smallish 3rd bedroom/office just off that living room.

It's bright and quite nicely redone, and the 5800+ sq. ft. lot really seems large. But location-wise, this will be a no-go for lots of people – not only is it on the side of Wendy that borders Aviation off the backyard, it's also right along fairly busy 12th St., with views of a corner preschool and traffic, including cars heading to Trader Joe's. (Another way of saying this is: "Steps to Trader Joe's!")

In all, it's a much more pleasant home than you'd expect in the 90266 for "just" $1M (start: $1.050M), and there's really no work to do unless you want to improve the yards, front and back.

1200 Wendy starts at $1.050M and is open Sun. 1-4pm.

1400 Magnolia (3br/2ba, 1320 sq. ft.) is a nicely improved cottage just east of Sepulveda with a bonus: It's along the interior, protected sidewalk that directs foot traffic to Meadows Elementary. Call it a kid highway.

It's a very efficient use of space and feels largely up to date. For a 4900 sq. ft. lot, there doesn't seem to be a lot of outside space, and what there is has all been hardscaped, meant to open up outdoor entertaining spaces rather than to be used as a yard.

A plus: A/C.

Ever since this one hit the MLS last week at $1.299M, we've thought it very ambitious. The market may have been there before, may get there in the future – but is it there now? 

1400 Magnolia starts at $1.299M and is listed, improbably, as open Sun. 11am-12pm. Here's hoping that's a misprint and they'll open up during more conventional hours, too.

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