Weekend Opens (2/8-2/9/14)

By Dave Fratello | February 8th, 2014

It's on.

Inventory is jumping. We're finally seeing listings come out faster than buyers can snap them all up. Our MB Property Ticker is practically overheating with new listings and new deals being made. Call it Spring – just about exactly what we've been hoping to see for several months.

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

Tree Section

1144 Walnut (5br/4ba, 3285 sq. ft.) is, in some ways, a practically all-new house, despite its 2000 build date.

Since their July 2011 acquisition (at $1.580M), the current owners have gone to town, redoing the kitchen, baths, roof, HVAC, flooring, paint, etc.

In theory, you could view this as a done-and-done house, needing nothing but your furniture and toothbrushes.

The layout is that crowd-pleasing favorite, with entry into a bright formal living room, formal dining just off that, and a nice kitchen/great room in back opening to a paved backyard. (With an above-ground hot tub.) A smallish spare bedroom downstairs is tucked away and has access to a full bath, which also serves the living spaces.

Upstairs you get 4br more, plus a dedicated office on the sunny western side.

Location is the issue. This listing calls it "a wonderful family street." The past (2011) listing referred to it being on "one of the most desirable neighborhood streets." Both claims may be true, but the dry cleaner next door, and the imminent presence of MB Blvd. just past that, make this an iffy location.

At $2.149M in this market, it seems that the sellers believe they have "priced in" the location. 

1144 Walnut starts at $2.149M and is open Sat. 2-4pm and Sun. 3-5pm.

1701 Pacific (4br/2ba, 1950 sq. ft.) is dated, on a busy street, with no real yard, small bedrooms and work to do. We somewhat doubt the energy efficiency of the place.

But wouldn't you know it, even this little raw 60s cottage will have immediate suitors. Even at $1.500M.

Because where else in the Trees are you going to get that much to work with – even in a fixer – with the pluses of a quick walk to town and schools?

We've met enough people willing to be visionary to see what others might see in this one. It's not much now, but give it time, motivation and money, and you could have an updated MB classic.

1701 Pacific starts at $1.500M and is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.

Sand Section

225 1st (3br/4ba, 2100 sq. ft.) offers ocean views and comfortable, updated living spaces in the must-have South End.

This is an SFR built originally in the 60s and updated repeatedly by various owners, including the current one. 

Of course it has an upside-down layout to give the best views to the main living spaces. That includes a wide-open kitchen with an island and skylights. There's living and dining space right up front, and another comfy living room in back.

Need another knockaround room for play or home theater? Try the very first floor, where a sizable room just off the garage could be a guest room (it's got a 3/4 bath) or whatever you need. It's this space that distinguishes the home from a more typical half-lot SFR or comparable TH, where you'd expect a small, forgotten bedroom isolated on the garage level but not much else. This is usable space.

The 3br are all together on the midlevel. One room, now an office with corner windows and ocean views (hello, Pacific!), doesn't currently have a closet, although there is some space claimed by the master bath that you could take back if need be. 

We wanted to take an extra moment to comment on the listing description, which does a good job of describing the home, then veers off into this earnest passage:

Located in the heart of a classic coastal neighborhood, this beach house is a nucleus for family and friends. This peaceful retreat unfolds to reveal a thoughtful balance between indoor and outdoor living with many unexpected features. Relaxed but refined, crisp but inviting, the casual elegance of this purposeful environment embraces an active beach life where sun, sand, ocean breezes, and memories are closely interwoven.

"Nucleus," "thoughtful balance," "purposeful environment," "memories... interwoven." You don't get that stuff every day. (And it's not quite the overwrought nonsense you find in some hyper-stylized descriptions.) We're not sure this part is, itself, "purposeful," but here's a mini-clap for the effort.

225 1st starts at $2.399M and is open Sun. 2-4pm.

408 32nd (4br/4ba, 2650 sq. ft.) is a brand-new, ultra-modern TH on the back half of new construction along Alma. We would have expected a Vista address rather than 400 block of 32nd. The front unit here is the new owner's, while the back unit will help offset the costs of the whole mega project.

Well, "help offset" may understate things. They'd like $2.800M for the back unit here. That should pay for a lot of the building.

The layout here puts a bright 1br suite on the first level (bright because of open space between the front and back units), 3br more – including the master – on the midlevel and, of course, the view level up top with all the common spaces.

The home is very nicely executed, with a spa-like feel to the baths and a warm sophistication across the board. It helps that a simple, modern home like this has been so tastefully decorated for presentation to would-be buyer – it's a very good argument for proper staging.

Those views are nice, complemented by the classy old-Manhattan Spanish duplex across the street. (Click thru the listing pics to see the second view photo which captures that even better than this shot with the patio/deck in frame.)

We were really taken in by that aspect, but then immediately reminded that old Spanish homes on Alma have a way of not lasting forever – like the corner-lot Spanish that used to be on this exact site, or the old custom Spanish one door south that's now a construction site. (See our popular post from Nov. 2013, "Adios to a Cool Spanish.") Lose that neighbor to new, maxed-out construction with 3 stories, and there won't be a lot of view left.

Pricewise, we'll note that until last year, there was never such a thing as a $2.8M townhome east of Highland. But 2520 Alma (3br/4ba, 2520 sq. ft.) (pictured) sold off-market for that number and posted sold on the MLS in May 2013. Truly, very few THs east of Highland have ever sold over $2.4M. (See "High Points of 2013: Sand Section, Part II," for more details.)

And yet, just this week, very conveniently, along comes 2300 Alma (3br/4ba, 2270 sq. ft.), a smaller, older (2002) if "iconic" modern TH, posting an off-market sale at $2.800M. (It's still pending.) That one has guaranteed ocean views but compares intriguingly with this new project at 408 32nd. Also, 2520 Alma is back to market less than a year after that high-dollar acquisition asking $500K more – furnished. Yes, $3.299M.

So 408 32nd emerges in a favorable environment, by those markers.

408 32nd starts at $2.800M and is open Sat. & Sun. 2-4pm.

2903 Manhattan Ave. (3br/4ba, 4175 sq. ft.) first hit our radar this week and we called it "modern," but on closer inspection, it's more Southwestern. And eclectic. And custom.

Custom, as in: This is exactly what someone wanted. Now, you?

We are really not sure how they're going to hit the $5.0M list price for a home that is so patently dated, the realization of an 80s/90s vision that merges Miami with New Mexico. 

Oh, there's location, views and living space to support the argument. When you finally wend your way to the top floor, the views – and the sounds of crashing waves – become intoxicating. The neighbor immediately to the west, i.e., the greatest threat to the views, is built low and seems recently to have been tautly updated. That's a good sign if you're betting on the future of the top floor at 2903 Manhattan. If the neighbors are in love with what they've got, they won't block the views here.

But back inside, you're going to find only 3br in almost 4200 sq. ft., headlined by a vast master suite that starts out, oddly enough, with an extremely prominent jacuzzi tub right as you walk through the double doors just off the home's main entry. ("Oh, welcome, you're early, just give me a few moments to finish up my bath.")

There's a nice lower-level family/entertaining room opening to the 29th St. walkstreet, an alternative to the ample top-floor living spaces. 

You'll find a lot to work with here – maybe just exactly what you were seeking, but could not find.

2903 Manhattan Ave. starts at $5.000M and is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.

East MB

1536 Marine (4br/2ba, 2650 sq. ft.) is a late-60s Roth-built home, part of a collection of homes by the same builder with the same layout that you'll find all around East MB, principally.

This one's tucked behind the giant oleander bushes to screen it from Marine Ave. proper. Not that you lose the traffic noise, but you don't see the cars. What knocks out the traffic noise is the waterfall and pond build into the entryway. (They call it a "koi pond" in the listing, but there are no koi included.)

If you know these layouts, you'll find something extra here – bonus space was added in the back, so, in lieu of a yard, you get a big family room.

The home has lots of artifacts of its 1969 construction and some – can we say this? – older updates. It could use a round of new updates to bring it up a level.

But where else will you find 2600+ sq. ft. for this price in MB?

1536 Marine starts at $1.250M and is open Sat. & Sun. 2-4pm.

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