Weekend Opens (1/28-1/29)

By Dave Fratello | January 28th, 2012
You want more choices?

We've got more choices.

Inventory is fairly exploding now, a full week before the Super Bowl, traditionally the kickoff for Spring listings.

Ask any agent trying to get around MB on Friday – the number of debuts was daunting. Your blog author got to 11 homes in 2 hours, but that was a challenge.

Out of the whirlwind, there was just one we desperately wanted to see, and that's the one we recommend above all others for your weekend viewing as well.

Make it a point to see 116 Morningside Dr. on Sunday between 1-4pm.

It's an inspired South End beach cottage with 4br and 3000+ sq. ft.  Something of a dream, clearly an accomplishment, a beaut. Don't miss it.

Among the East MB listings, we also liked 1515 5th St., so check that out if you can.

If this heralds a Spring season of quality inventory for willing buyers, we could see a good year developing. Time will tell.

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. Let us know what you like, don't like or must have.

And if you're in the market as a buyer or seller, please consider asking MBC for help identifying the right agent for you.

Blog author Dave Fratello works directly with buyer clients on a case-by-case basis, but our priority here is to make sure that anyone who wants help gets the best service possible. For more, please see our referrals page.

Sand Section

116 Morningside Dr. (4br/5ba, 3230 sq. ft.) is a little slice of love down in the South End. The current photos do not capture much of the essence, which means you're going to have to put this in your calendar (Sun. 1-4pm) if you are to catch one of the great, casual, beach-cool homes to hit the market over the past year or more.

This is a 1950s original that was extensively remodeled/rebuilt after a 2000 purchase. You can walk by the house and see only a highly upgraded cottage, not realizing that it's a 3000+ sq. ft. house. That's because the front part of the 50s cottage was preserved for a big, open kitchen/great room, while a new master and other bedrooms were added more toward the rear of the home. Something classic, something new.

A beachy feel pervades the common areas as well as the décor of some of the bedrooms. That includes the first-floor guest suite with its aqua-blue walls. This room has an unusual benefit of opening directly to a sunny patio and boasting a large walk-in closet. Your guests may stay a while.

Also tucked in back on the first floor is a bright office with built-ins. Up a half flight of stairs is another common area, a quiet living room/media room. Bedrooms upstairs are large and modern, with the master benefiting from a high-ceilinged closet with windows along the top – perhaps the brightest "closet" we've seen. 

If you're going to live 3 short blocks from the beach, you're going to want to shuffle down to the sand and surf. The design of this home recognizes that – the side yard accessed from the back alley includes board racks, towel racks and an outdoor shower.

We heard some folks express concern that the garage is tucked in back and down some stairs from the kitchen – meaning groceries will be a haul. The answer there is simple – park on the street and go through the front door. Morningside is quiet and underutilized except during summer weekends.

116 Morningside starts at $2.299m and is open Sun. 1-4pm.

421 20th Pl. (2br/3ba, 1750 sq. ft.) is something completely different. It's a 70s-vintage tri-level home that's been sharpened up a lot and modernized and now feels like – well, like nothing else.

The midlevel living room (pictured) has very high ceilings and gets a lot of its light from unique windows angled downward from diagonally oriented panels popping out from the whole of the south side of the building. (A few of the pics show this surprising alignment of windows.) The room is sharply decorated and almost feels like a very large below-deck room on a yacht.

The kitchen is fully modern and looks down on the living area. The master suite is up top, with a little balcony, while the second bedroom is actually on the entry level a full 2 floors down.

Location feels midtown but is really downtown. It's just steps to home plate at Dorsey Field, the larger baseball field at Live Oak Park, which at first is hard to grasp because you enter 20th Place from Highland to the west.

All different, strangely exciting.

421 20th St. starts at $1.199m and is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.

2516 Ocean Dr. (2br/3ba, 1025 sq. ft.) is a tiny 2br condo that's very fresh and updated, very close to Bruce's Beach Park and the actual beach, and – did we mention tiny?

The new bamboo floors are attractive and tight, the (small) baths are fully updated, and the kitchen seems to have all the MB modern standards – including Viking appliances – in a roughly 2/3rds scale. It's a lot to pack into this living space.

As you might guess, the views are nice over the tops of Strand homes, with glimpses of Malibu and whitewater.

The last sale in this building was a very slightly bigger place at 2512 Ocean Dr. (2br/3ba, 1150 sq. ft.), updated in a very different, soft-modern style. It went for $1.130m in March 2010.

2516 Ocean starts at $1.199m and is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.

228 40th St. (3br/2ba, 1425 sq. ft.) is more or less across the street from the little condo we discussed here last week (330 41st St., Unit G, which is now in escrow). Clearly a west of Highland location is preferable in El Porto Norte, but this is a very different sort of home.

The 1933 original isn't big, offers little parking and bears all the hallmarks of an older home that people have valiantly updated and added onto over the years, but it's still that Spanish original.

It's cute, fairly fresh and offers a surprisingly large entertainment/hangout room in back and down a few stairs. Unfortunately, that's technically the 3rd bedroom (its closet is currently stacked with LPs), so to enjoy this home as the current owners do means treating it as a 2br.

West of Highland is, indeed, nice, but this one is just one door off Highland with a commercial building to its east. Happily, that includes a laundromat, fluff-and-fold and dry cleaner – a business your blog author once relied upon heavily before moving around town.

Need a smallish space, a smallish price, surf close by, and all your laundry covered? Welcome home.

228 40th St. sold in Jan. 2005 for $939k, and starts now at $1.025m. It is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.

Hill Section

307 Larsson (3br/1ba, 1200 sq. ft.) hits the market quite soon after the next-door-neighbor, 303 Larsson, made a very quick deal when priced at $1.0m.

Everything at 307 Larsson is different.

This is an original, small 1950s house on the same sort of skinny lot. All 3 bedrooms are very small, and none is a true master (the whole house shares one bath). Besides fresh paint and carpet, the house lacks updates.

The main living room is small, but a step-up family room with built-in bookshelves offers more space. The back yard is a decent size, but is accessed only through one bedroom. It has been neglected.

This is more of the kind of compromised starter home you might expect to find on Larsson for a low price. And for MB, the start price of $830k is meant to draw in folks who'd like in for less – and can make the compromises, or will do the work to somehow add onto or modernize the property. Or, given the difficulty of updating the property, maybe this becomes a rental – as it has been for several years.

307 Larsson starts at $830k and is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm. 

Tree Section

2912 Pine (5br/4ba, 3800 sq. ft.) is an expansive, newer (2001) heavy-feeling home tucked away on a fairly quiet corner lot up and off of Ardmore.

The kitchen/great room combo is enormous, and there are 2 separate rooms off the first floor that can serve any purpose – formal living room (i.e., dust collector), game room, separate media room, kids' homework space... whatever suits. Bedrooms upstairs are all quite large.

Though this is a plus-size lot (6000 sq. ft.), there's not a yard per se, just the large, paved front patio from which the home is set back – a grand mini-"estate" effect – and more paved patio out back off the great room.

Last purchased in July 2004 for $1.950m, this one was offered for 3 months at the start of last year for $2.3m down to $2.2m before the listing quit in April.

2912 Pine starts now at $2.095m and is open Sun. 1-4pm.

East MB

1515 5th St. (5br/5ba, 4130 sq. ft.) is a large, yet comfy home offering nearly all the best you could expect to find east of the highway.

It's a late-90s build, no space crunch anywhere – with an especially large kitchen/great room – and boasts such a large yard that there's adequate space for a nice patio, (faux) grassy area and a good-size pool with spa.

The home's been upgraded in several places, but here and there the late 90s creep in. (The marble used for some countertops doesn't feel modern, for instance.)

A bright, cozy office up front, benefiting from afternoon sun and a private front patio, is a nice bonus.

1515 5th last sold for $1.7m in 2003; it starts now at $1.998m and is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.

1231 3rd St. (5br/4ba, 3850 sq. ft.) is a fairly big early-90s home with elaborate faux-painting and wood-trim details inside that dress it up nicely – assuming you find the style pleasing.

While very high ceilings and extra south-facing windows brighten the formal living room and 2nd floor landing, the darker wood flooring and deeper paint colors and décor do darken some 1st floor rooms.

With a 6000 sq. ft. lot to work with, the back yard offers a pool but little else – a notable contrast with 1515 5th, which had so much more with 1500 sq. ft. more to work with.

Bonus: Check out the home just over the back yard fence – it's 1230 5th, an 8,000 sq. ft. house on a remarkable 23,000 sq. ft. lot. Really something.

The kitchen and baths at 1231 3rd are nice but seem mostly original (90s), and here and there various ancillary bedrooms have sliding, mirrored closet doors, which seem inconsistent with the inspired style that's been poured on in other places.

The 3rd St. location on a short, low-traffic street is a plus. Hill and treetop views from the 2nd floor landing were strikingly different from any we'd seen in East MB before – though no room is really set up to take advantage.

1231 3rd starts at $1.699m and is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.

1656 Gates (4br/3ba, 3475 sq. ft.) is a custom house that holds several surprises. Because it's a bit quirky, the $1.399m start price is meant to get buyers thinking "bargain" before beginning a tour.

The 1980 build spans its fairly large lot with a big L-shaped home that opens onto a big, bricked courtyard with several discrete plantings. (Not well-featured in the current listing pics.)

Despite a very recent remodel that brought new carpet, flooring, paint and some bathroom updates, the kitchen was left largely as it was – meaning it begs for an update now, too. And given the somewhat classic, older European feel to much of the house, a couple of the bath updates were stunningly modern – inconsistent.

This is a lot of house with a style of its own, needing some help for the exterior and maybe the yard. We're sure the interior updates were needed to make the home marketable, but there is likely more work to do for the next owner.

Location just one long block from Aviation will be a factor for some. Adjoining Redondo Ave. is relatively busy. (In fact, the home is labeled "205 S. Redondo Ave.") at the entry.

1656 Gates starts at $1.399m and is open Sun. 1-4pm.


Think we covered a lot of ground? Janie Sue Nagy's weekend post looks at 3 more East MB homes we couldn't get to.

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