tree section

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To judge by the most recent closed sales come in, you'd think no one knows how to price a house anymore.

We've seen markets where nearly every listing price seemed to be an overreach. Today, start prices seem to be literally just the starting points. Consider these very recent closings:

510 23rd (4br/4ba, 3200 sq. ft.) is a 2009-built Spanish in the gaslamp district.

Start Price: $2.699M

Sold Price: $2.826M

Amount Over Asking: +$127K / +4%

Note: That result was different from when the same home debuted back in 2008-09. It ran 7 months on market and sold for 16% under the asking price way-back-when, the year your kindergartner was born.

1901 Lynngrove (3br/1ba, 1100 sq. ft.) is a mostly original corner-lot cottage in Liberty Village. The home has

We'll remember the first half of February 2015 as the time when we said, "Oh, really!?!" a few more times.

The kinds of deals buyers are making early in the year continue to set the tone for another roaring year in Manhattan Beach real estate. Consider:

  • 316 4th St., a corner lot at Crest and the flat 4th St. walkstreet, listed for $3.300M, about $600K above 2 recent nearby lot-sale comps, and is in escrow for more than 10% more than asking price; this says "watch out, South End." Ocean views helped on this one.
  • Two East MB lots deep into the 1700 block, specifically 1721 Gates and 1727 Gates, listed for $1.400M and $1.500M, respectively, and made immediate deals. Previously, you might have penciled them in at $1.300M-minus each, but no. (FYI 1727

One of the most inspired examples of staging we've seen recently has zero to do with the interior of the home for sale.

It's the driveway at 2412 John that caught our eyes here.

This is a new listing for new construction on a prime street of the Manhattan Beach Tree Section.

The two cars in the driveway tell you a lot about the house, and the inspiration behind it.

A new Tesla. A '62 Porsche.

Old and new. Yin and yang.

The good life.

The cars perfectly advertise the home, because it's a brand-new, from-the-ground up home built lovingly in a throwback mid-century style, with modern conveniences and upgrades. With a "sustainable" and low-key sensibility, the home also sports solar electrical, radiant heating and a high-efficiency hot water system.

So…

Nothing has happened yet this year to slow the momentum of 2014 carrying over into 2015. That means for Manhattan Beach real estate: Look out above.

We've got one big example of the ongoing sky's-no-limit phenomenon to look at, but first, let's look at a place where common sense may reign.

At 1208 Oak (5br/4ba, 3125 sq. ft.), you'll find a 10-year-old Cape Cod, solidly built, with a familiar floorplan and a couple of twists.

The home feels very solid and shows well. With a modern kitchen and tasteful master bath, it's a pretty straightforward home, easy to like... once inside.

So why is this good-sized, newer Tree Section home priced at "only" $2.000M, when comparable homes seem to be selling for $2.3M-$2.5M?

Location, location...

Not only is this…