Weekend Opens (2/25-2/26)

By Dave Fratello | February 25th, 2012
It seems about half the new listings coming out these days are failed listings from 2011 or even 2010 – hark, there's one dating to '07! – coming back to try their luck in what must seem like a sunnier climate.

The must-see of the weekend is also the priciest, a Saturday-only opportunity to check out the views from 636 8th in the Hill Section. (First writeup below.) A close second is 221 30th, which offers an actual, livable home and great views of its own.

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

Current house at 636 8th
You'll find a house at 636 8th, but that's not why to go there. It's the lot you want to see. (Note: this is Saturday only.)

The 9950 sq. ft. lot is on a great position on the hill where everything to the south and west drops down, clearing the way for forever vistas. No poles, no obstructions, just rooftops, PV and Catalina.

Listing photos currently feature several (poor) tries at getting a sunset view, but the dusk-hour photos really fail to show anything of the view you get on a clear afternoon. Or morning. Or noon.

Homes and lots with these kinds of views rarely hit the market and are rarely open to the public. At $4.850m, 636 8th is pricing out most of us, but take the chance to revel in those views if you can. (Is the current house usable or remodel-able? Sorry, not really. That makes this at least a $7m bite before you can start collecting mail at the address.)

For some perspective on the lot price and some comparable sales, see "Big Views, Nearly $5m for Dirt."

636 8th is open Sat. only, 1-4pm.

Sand Section

221 30th (5br/5ba, 4550 sq. ft.) is a big, late-90s custom build with some pretty great views currently.

As you typically get in a view home, this home has an upside-down layout, with 3 smallish, oddly shaped bedrooms on the first level ("beach kid bedrooms" was the phrase that occurred to us in our tour), a fairly large master suite and a guest suite on the midlevel and principal living spaces up top. (There is a living room of sorts – with wet bar – on the middle level also.)

Several attractive, arched doors on the top level open up to views and breezes. There are smallish view balconies and one big outdoor patio with built-in barbeque in back that enjoys nice views also.

We might have called the style here Spanish-inspired, but the listing calls it "California Tuscan," which must reflect the aspirations of the owners, so we'll go with that. It's definitely custom, the layout feeling a bit chopped-up on the first floor. Nice woods are featured all around, in flooring, windows and doors and beams in the ceilings. It's a cozy, casual feel all around, suiting a beach home.

They're starting at $3.395m, undoubtedly with some premiums built in for the extra space (4500+ sq. ft.) and the current views, unobstructed by the neighbor immediately west – an older, low-slung California Tuscan Spanish that, admittedly, could be redeveloped someday and impose on 221.

221 30th starts at $3.395m, and is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.

225 16th (4br/4ba, 3975 sq. ft.) is an early-90s walkstreet home on one of those charming Teen Streets. (For a briefing, see last August's "Action in the Teens.")

The home was freshened up some before last year's failed listing, and now has a slightly different look, thanks to more beige. The once-blue exterior got the most badly needed coat of paint; the inside has been buffed a bit more, too, and the landscaping upgraded.

It's still the same home, though, clearly demanding a fuller update to bring it to the 21st century, including pricey upgrades like the kitchen and baths.

Marble tile, glass block, round metal pipe-railings inside and out, laminated cabinetry – yeah, there's work to do. Also take note of the master shower; it's surprisingly narrow.

The existing home has a bonus 1br/1ba rental unit in back, which can help generate a little income or probably could be integrated into the home without too much trouble.

This one launched last year at $3.650m and crept down to about $3.2m over 7 months. It's back now at $2.999m with its new look, new agents and, no doubt, new optimism. There's also some new verbiage in the listing description, including this ditty:

It's the good life that over a billion people in the world would cherish.
A billion. Now that's a lot of potential buyers.

225 16th restarts this year at $2.999m. It was open very frequently in 2011, and is open all of this weekend, Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.

3108 Vista (3br/4ba, 2000 sq. ft.) is a pretty new (2006) SFR on a half lot at the corner of 2 alley streets (Vista and 31st Pl.).

It's not new to the market, though – it ran the better part of 5 months last year, quitting at Thanksgiving.

The layout may remind you of a Sand Section TH, with a smallish 1br suite downstairs, 2br on the middle level and the living spaces on top. But the master is very spacious, with 2 separate closets and a large modern bath – nothing missing. (The listing says Vista is "pleasantly surprising compared to so many of the hum-drum townhomes you see so often.")

Upstairs, the open kitchen is everything you'd hope for, modern if compact – with quite decent ocean/Malibu views to the north. The breezes upstairs are ample, and even the somewhat obstructed views to the west are quite pleasant, thanks to the newer Italianate THs across Vista. It's that very rare case where neighboring homes lend such a pleasant ambience. There's the illusion of being in another world, almost.

As a home, this one has a somewhat awkward entry – the garage is off Vista and the front doors are on the alley at 31st Place, not so welcoming, but this is one of those homes that gets better once you're inside.

3108 Vista was purchased new for $1.585m in March 2006, tried last year at $1.699m, and restarts now at the 2006 price, basically, $1.589m. It is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.

217 9th (3br/3ba, 1725 sq. ft.) was intended as a showpiece of modern/green architecture that, we noted, last week, always surprised us. The choice of location, limited bedrooms and high price were all question marks. But they did actually sell the spec project in 2007 for $3.0m.

Now it's vacant and ready for the next owner, asking pretty much the '07 price. We'd say, simply, "good luck with that," but this one has surprised us before – plenty.

217 9th is priced at $2.950m and is open Sat. & Sun. 12-4pm.

East MB

Go east and you might wind up by Mira Costa. Of all the schools to be near, a high school is generally the biggest strike, locationwise. This week, 2 recycled listings have much the same sort of HS liability, however that factor plays.

1535 Ruhland (5br/5ba, 4825 sq. ft.) joins the rush of 80s and 90s homes to hit the market this year in East MB, many of which have found buyers rather quickly.

In many ways, this one is cleaner and simpler than some others that have made deals recently. It's big, blank, beige and empty, very easy to consider just moving right into.

This one also ran 5 months on market last year at somewhat higher prices, $2.199m down to $2.025m. The seller was trying to mitigate losses, given that the last acquisition was for $2.4m in March 2006.

All the spaces are huge, including the closets for each bedroom – most could fit a bed. The "guest" suite downstairs is big enough for 3 guests, their baggage and their shopping finds while in town. And of course the master closet is so big, it's almost a full-size room unto itself, with 2 separate entries. Even the laundry room is among the largest we've seen. Every bedroom has its own bath, though 2 also have the top floor's shag carpet rolling all the way in. (The 90s.)

The lot is a plus-plus-size 7950 sq. ft., with the yard hosting a sports court, a smallish but classy salt-water pool and a big outdoor-living space with built-ins.

1535 Ruhland starts now at $1.950m (-$450k/-19% off '06), and is open Sat. 2-4pm and Sun. 1-3pm.

1525 Mathews (5br/6ba, 4500 sq. ft.) is an East MB perennial, to judge by the listing history.

The lot was acquired in May '06 ($1.150m) for a spec project, which has been on the market in every single year since completion (2007-present) without a sale.

We haven't toured it, but we can share some observations by others:
  • "This home shows as new, and either has never been lived in or has been meticulously kept." (Redfin affiliate, Sept. 2011) 
  • "[A] beautiful spec home on a large (7,500 sf), flat lot. There is plenty of room in the back yard." (Janie Nagy, Jan. 2011)
  • "A very similar home at 1510 Mathews, by the same builder with seller financing just sold for $1.8M." (Nagy, Jan. 2011)
  • "It has been listed at this same price since January 2011 and has only come down $20K in the last two years." (Nagy, today)
Of course a few points jump out. "Never been lived in?" Similar home, same block, $1.8m? No real cuts in 2 years? And that stone work – you know how we view that, right?

1525 Mathews will be trying again in 2012. It "starts" this year at $2.175m, same as the price when the listing quit around Thanksgiving 2011. It is open Sun. 1-4pm.

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