Weekend Opens (1/14-1/15)

By Dave Fratello | January 14th, 2012
It's a funny mix this week: A hot Hill property and a new, quick Tree Section spec home leading the news. A few sellers are trying to get the jump on the Spring rush.

But first, let's all send some positive vibes out to our friends and family in the nation's midwest and east, where Winter has finally arrived and the snow is going to start piling up for a while. (This pic is from Chicago.)

We know exactly how they feel. Friday morn was "snow day" at our preschool here, and for the 30 minutes the kids were running around in the white stuff, we had (brief) flashbacks to those long-gone days of shoveling sidewalks, scraping windshields and roaming the neighborhood on foot to help free stranded motorists.

Then the kids went back to their class, and the mercury hit 80 degrees. Ah, January in MB.

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

As usual, we appreciate it when readers share views on this week's featured properties.

Hill Section

303 Larsson (3br/2ba, 1800 sq. ft.) drew mention at MBC early in the week for its (relatively) low price and (apparently) real promise. If $1.0m seems rare on the Hill, it is, as we explained in "$1 Mill on the Hill."

We can now report that the home does look as good as the pics, shows beautifully, and already has a little wave of offers pouring in. So if you're going to see it, make that no later than Sunday, and if you're going to bid on it, make it now. The seller will respond to offers Monday.

Why the rush? This skinny-lot home offers more than you can get in MB for the price almost anyplace. Start with the fact that there's a non-trifling yard – the 3440 sq. ft. lot is deep, not wide, but deep gives you yard space. The western orientation of the yard means afternoon sun. Great.

The remodel is completely modern and tight. Attractive bamboo flooring is used throughout, the cabinetry, tile and countertops in the kitchen and baths are higher-end and sharp, and the garage has actually been tastefully and completely turned into extra living space with carpeting and storage cabinets. (You see pilates equipment in the listing pics.) Views to the north from the front patio (just off the kitchen) were fun on Friday, with pretty clear skies making the mountains, downtown L.A. and even the Hollywood sign visible.

You want the concerns/reservations/buts? The upside-down layout will be a turnoff for some – there are 2br downstairs apart from the master upstairs, not a family favorite. Plus, those 2br are quite small. The exterior looks better than the 1959 build date suggests, but still needs a refresher. Missed in the interior remodel: The curvy staircase (are those concrete stairs?). And you are on Larsson, the Oak Ave. of the Hills.

No doubt, people are going to make their peace with the "buts" and make a move to try get in quickly. Does that include you?

303 Larsson starts at $1.0m and is open Sunday 1-4pm.

Sand Section

432 23rd Place (3br/3ba, 2125 sq. ft.) is a late-90s TH on an alley near Grandview elementary that has been struggling to gain traction and attention. The current listing is in its fifth month, and a prior try lasted 8 months from Fall 2009 to mid-2010.

The relatively low price ($1.149m) ought to make it a contender, but you can see why buyers have been reluctant. The home feels a bit tired inside and out, and the alley location just can't be an asset.

Though the master's spacious and the baths pretty nice, the kitchen sincerely feels dated after just 15 years, and is oddly walled off from the main living spaces – modern design would have a more welcoming, open flow.

Location near the school and just a short walk to the beach will help. Some day.

432 23rd Place is up at $1.149m and is open Sunday 1-4pm.

Tree Section

1021 33rd St.  
1021 33rd (5br/3ba, 3600 sq. ft.) is a cousin of the Speedy Speckies in an unusual location, built out in what must be record time, since the lot sale here just closed in late October.

First things first: Check out that address – the 1000 block of 33rd? Is that East Manhattan? Not quite. This is an odd triangular lot pretty much where Oak meets Ardmore and cars line up to cross Sepulveda or turn left. The bend Ardmore takes before officially becoming 33rd is going to merit a mention later.

The home was put up by the same builder who brought together each of the 6 Speedy Speckies (5 were mentioned in this post), and is owned by the same investment company as 2 of them. It is clearly the better among the cousins, with a superior, different, big layout and without the daring, frilly, even questionable details found in some of the others. As newer Caliterraneans go, it's pretty safe and attractive.

The first-floor living spaces are quite large, built across an L-shaped open floor plan that affords a big up-front living/media room, wide-open separate dining room and a big kitchen/great room in back, opening to the rear yard. (We overheard agents calling it a "fabulous party house" thanks to the spaciousness and flow of the main floor.) Ceilings are coved and shaped in interesting ways. One of the 5br is also downstairs. Most flooring in the common spaces is a hammered stone; a dark-stained hardwood makes up the stairs and media/living room.

Master bedroom at 1021 33rd
Among the upstairs bedrooms, one is a separate suite and 2 share a jack-and-jill bath. All are fairly bright. A large landing area is begging to become an informal kids' living room/play area, nicely out of the flow of the rest of the house.

The master has windows on 3 sides and the best treetop views, roughly to the west, over the greenbelt. The bath is large with a big shower and separate spa tub.

The promise of a 7000+ sq. ft. lot does not seem to result in much extra yard space here – the triangular shape of the plot results in some exterior space around the back patio and another triangle off the driveway. These 2 yard spaces are sort of connected by a narrow sliver of grassy space. They have not fenced off the back yard and, by the look of the landscaping, they may not be planning to. When fencing is (inevitably) put up, the outdoor spaces will feel much smaller.

Location is going to be a challenge. To the positive, you have no neighbors on 2 sides, with a big dropoff off the back of the house to the greenbelt. You're steps (via the greenbelt) from the Manhattan Village mall – movies, dinner or perhaps some electronics shopping (Apple store, Fry's) are all very walkable. All well and good, but Ardmore is a speedway for several blocks before this house, and the bend seems abrupt and almost blind for cars coming around and popping up in front of this new home. A circular driveway is meant to make it easier to get in and out, but it will be harrowing on occasion. It's hard to even walk across 33rd without a flash of worry.

The lot at 1021 33rd was purchased quickly in October 2011 for $680k, and the new house was offered initially in mid-December for $1.699m. At the time, that list price was undercutting most of the Speedy Speckies – all of them smaller by 400 or so square feet. Alas, the plans for 1021 33rd changed, space was added and (we're told) more expensive finishes and other kinds of extras (pre-wiring for sound, security, gates, built-in BBQ, etc.) were brought in. These changes raised the asking price $400k.

1021 33rd starts (this time) at $2.1m and is open Sun. 1-4pm.

Bonus Speedy Speckie update: Of the 6, one continues to be in escrow (2516 Pine) in a deal first posted in September 2011 (see "Your Ex(spec)tations on 2516 Pine"). It's hard to remember, but 2516 Pine first came out at $2.2m last May.

Meanwhile, the cheapest least pricey of the bunch (3613 Maple at $1.599m) posted a deal this week.

East MB

1305 8th (6br/4ba, 4100 sq. ft.) got a mention here last week and is open again. It's got some new would-be competition (see below).

1305 8th is a big home with  a good-size yard on one of those big East MB lots. The home looks and feels much like its late-1980s vintage but has been remodeled in some important ways since its 2006 acquisition.

Though very livable as-is, there are rough and worn edges here and there, and lots of parts still demand a 21st-century update some day, most notably the master bath. Exterior paint seems faded and the back yard a bit scrappy. It's pretty clear what needs to be done to improve and polish up the house, but the work needs not be terribly expensive.

Last week, we called this one "compelling" at $1.725m given the lot and home size. (It last traded in June 2006 at $1.850m.)

New to the market is a neighbor up the hill by the water tower, 1447 8th (5br/4ba, 4225 sq. ft.), which won't be publicly open till next week. It currently presents no competition at all at $1.869m for a 1991 home that needs almost everything to be redone. That one will need to drop, however, and could pose a challenge for the same buyers as 1305 8th if it comes down starkly enough.

For now, 1305 8th stands almost alone, priced at $1.725m and open Sun. 1-4pm.

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