Weekend Opens (1/21-1/22)

By Dave Fratello | January 21st, 2012
Inventory is still light, but we note that two of this week's debut listings both have an 8 in front.

That means: Yes, you can live in MB for less than a million, quite a bit less. But here's hoping you don't have too much stuff.

Before we describe the week's new housing offerings, here's a shout-out to a new feature on CBS (TV) LA's website regarding MB shopping, dining and nightlife. The focus there is on some of our town's newer offerings – a reminder that the last few years have really given us some headline-worthy additions. The feature's author: Mrs. MBC!

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

We ask MBC readers who visit the featured homes, or any open house, to also report back in the comments here. Tell us what you see, what you like and what you don't like. Thanks!

Tree Section

759 27th (4br/3ba, 3300 sq. ft.) is aiming for that middle-of-the-road buyer targeting the Trees, wanting a good location and an updated, larger – but not huge – home.

It checks a lot of boxes, with a very modern kitchen and master bath, a pretty nice location with a sense of open space, plus some views.

Inside, you get common spaces both upstairs and down in this, shall we say, modified version of an upside-down layout. (Dare we utter the dreaded words "split level?") You enter and get the choice of going up a few steps to the main level with formal living, dining, kitchen and a separate office (which could be a guest bedroom), or, from the entry, stepping down to 3br and a nicely bright family room that opens to the back yard. (The yard is now mainly paved as a large patio with built-in BBQ.)

The master suite is alone up top – actually up and back toward the front, off the living room. It's a big, bright room with soaring ceilings and that terrific, modern bath, with Carrara marble and sharp, dark-wood cabinetry. Fine detail note: On the bedroom ceiling, they put a little line of trim along the main beam down the center – a small accent that speaks to the attention to detail everywhere, and just the daily enjoyment of the small things that you could have here.

Yes, it's quite apparent that this home is an 80s build, despite the updates. We would guess the exterior is in a Tudor-inspired style. Architecturally, it's a bit of a mess (pondstone: really?), and could use an exterior re-do like they just applied to the neighbor down the street at 742 27th. (See yesterday's "New Owners Get to Work.") All things in time.

An unexpected bonus is the huge garage, legally 3-car and the size of a 4-car garage. It's not like the beach is so close that you can't park on the street or in the driveway, so this amounts to lots of extra storage potential in an already-large home. 

The start price at $1.579m seems designed not to mess around.

The 2 recent neighborhood sales to look at are:
  • 608 29th (4br/4ba, 3070 sq. ft.), smaller, boasting a superior location and yard, but an upside-down layout that was far more of a challenge – it sold for $1.630m in late October last year. (See "Making Upside-Down Work.") 
  • 2509 Laurel (4br/3ba, 3650 sq. ft.), obviously bigger, no yard, and though it's a neighbor just a 2-minute walk away from 27th, definitely suffering by comparison in location, since the Laurel property is just off Valley. Laurel sold for $1.575m without the plus-plus updates you see at 759 27th. (See "Close the Books on 2509 Laurel.")
759 27th starts at $1.579m and is open Sat. & Sun. 2-4pm.

2401 Oak (3br/2ba, 1160 sq. ft.) is a smallish shortie on Oak, but that literal description misses a lot.

The little late-1940s cottage was updated within the last several years, benefiting from a kitchen upgrade, an improved shared bath and a pretty nice back yard retooling.

If you find the house small, at least out back you've got a good-sized deck, built-in BBQ, hot tub, stone patio area and plenty of grass. Also, the attached, onetime one-car garage has been unofficially converted into bonus living space (office/playroom). Laundry's in there, too.

This is the "right" side of Oak, with a sunny back yard to the west of the house and even some treetop views given the slight downslope. It felt tranquil on our visit. (There's even a hammock.) Across Oak on the "wrong" side, a high fence and mature foliage mask the parking lot for a commercial building reasonably well. You know Sepulveda's nearby, and Marine is also just 5 doors down to the north, but neither street seems to impose strongly.

Common spaces are a bit tight, as the square footage would suggest, though the bedrooms seemed comfortable. The master opens out to the deck and back yard. Its private bath has only a shower, no tub.

We found the wood flooring in most rooms to be notably scuffed-up and wishing for a redo, but that will be the next owner's job. This sort of wood often looks very good when sanded and refinished – the work shouldn't be too pricey, but it shouldn't be ignored, either.

2401 Oak was last purchased in a bubble year (June 2005) for $1.075m, and is offered back now as a short sale at $879k (-18% from 2005, aligned with MB's median price, which is off 18% from the peak). If the question is: Can we get into the 90266 with a yard for under $900k? The answer here is yes, with some obvious compromises involved.

2401 Oak starts at $879k and is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.

In the Trees, Oak is among the least-good streets, while Palm is among the best. So 2404 Palm (4br/3ba, 3075 sq. ft.) starts with a nice asset. And it's fairly big – another asset.

And then, reality sets in.

The layout is simply strange, owing to some choices made as the home was built (in 1986) into a downsloping lot. Some living spaces on the entry level end at a landing which overlooks the downstairs family room.

That's unusual, but the placement of bedrooms is the real hitch. There are 3 downstairs on the home's partly subterranean first level. (We discussed the home in some detail in Oct. 2007 in "Unique Ain't Always Great.") And those bedrooms, while brighter on a recent visit than we recalled from '07, still feel like basement rooms, with windows opening to the shoring and fence on either side of the house. One, outfitted as an office, has doors opening to the back patio.

But the master... that's upstairs and around off from the entry level, in a world of its own. It's big and private, but far from the kids – 2 floors away – if you're looking at this as a family home. That instantly starts a series of questions rolling. 

After failed efforts to sell in 2007 and early 2011, the owners dumped the "contemporary" look that the home bore and softened it up a lot, bringing it closer to an acceptable standard for the mainstream buyer. It's much warmer and cheerier, if still flawed.

Before the remodel last year, 2404 Palm was offered for as little as $1.365m. After the remodel, $1.550m.

Now 2404 Palm starts yet again, this time at $1.499m, and is open Sun. 1-3pm.

Sand Section

Regular readers know that this west-of-Sepulveda, SFR-only blog has been branching out for some time to look east of the highway and to look at townhomes.

330 41st St., Unit G (2br/3ba, 1250 sq. ft.) was another stop on our mind-expanding tour of MB condo/TH inventory. We've passed this recently remodeled El Porto Norte complex endless times, but had never seen inside before.

The building's history is readily apparent inside. The units were built in the 80s and redone in the most recent upcycle. (We're informed that the building's units were supposed to be condos in the 80s, but the bust way-back-then quashed that plan and they become rentals. Not until the mid-2000s remodel did the units sell individually.)

There are just 2br, both on the first (entry) floor, each with its own bath. Countertops are very nice, but they feel like partial upgrades to rooms that still have an 80s/90s flair. Windows for the bedrooms overlook Highland Ave.

The living space upstairs, as the photos show, can be chopped into segments, with a small office/reading space up at the front, a comfy living area and a separate, step-up dining room on wood flooring. The kitchen is just big enough and benefits from a decent 2000s update.

Custom paint colors in several rooms are a bit of a turnoff (lemon yellow? alternating wall colors in the same room?) but that's easily fixed. The greyish berber carpet throughout is probably very practical, but isn't very attractive.

Parking is at a premium in El Porto Norte, but this one comes with 3 secure/covered spaces and the right to 3 guest spaces up behind on Crest – in case you ever need to fill up the condo.

To be on Highland, to the east, carries an obvious liability, but the plus is ocean views.

Some newer pluses: the bar with the shark moved a couple blocks away, and the space now houses a higher-end fish joint; the vacant Harvey Washbanger's is being retooled as a fancy new gym; and the little market across the street has sprouted a little deli counter.

Is this the story of how El Norte goes upscale?

A recent sale in the same building provides a useful comp: Unit D in the same building sold quickly for $815k last July. It seems to be the same size and layout, though not a corner unit like G.

Unit E seems to have sold for the most in 2006, at $900k, while the subject property here, Unit G, sold for $875k in March 2006.

A full 5 years later, 330 41st Unit G is up for $25k less than acquisition, and $35k more than the recent comp, at $849k. It's open Sun. 2-4pm.

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