Weekend Opens (4/20-4/21)

By Dave Fratello | April 20th, 2013

It was another one of those weeks that Spring 2013 is becoming famous for.

You want more choices? You were happy about the 16 new listings in the past 7 days.

You want more choices? You saw fewer, net, as 19 active listings went into escrow over the same time.

You haven't bought yet? Here's hoping you're preapproved, well represented, locked, loaded and decisive.

Below we'll look at some of the highlights of the weekend's open houses. There are more we couldn't quite get to.

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

Sand Section

440 5th (4br/5ba, 3070 sq. ft.) is a rare, unique custom build on a corner lot on the family walkstreets in the South End. It sports class and great details around every corner.

The first floor, with the main living spaces, opens fully, via disappearing doors, to the walkstreet. That allows a true indoor-outdoor feel for the main living spaces. Hedges, not visible in this older pic, give the home privacy from passersby, but a lower patio opens out and says "hello" to the walkstreet, too – a proper mix, we'd venture, since the point of the walkstreets is to be part of them.

You'll find 3br upstairs, including the master with a thoughtful design on the northeast corner – the are views of very tall, mature pine trees across the street and an array of Hill Section homes to the east, a special asset. To awake to a view of thick, full trees and the Hills – that's special. (Those tall pine trees: Just the luck of the draw that the neighbors have grown and maintained them.)

Beneath the main living floor is a spare bedroom plus bath and a good family room.

The lot size here is 2/3rd the usual size at 1800 sq. ft., which means this maxed-out house is smaller at its maxed-out size, just under 3100 sq. ft. But it's enough, and extremely well done.

440 5th St. sold quickly in Aug. 2010 for $2.835M, but that was then, and this is 2013. It's starting $500K higher.

440 5th starts at $3.350M, and is open Sat. only 2-4pm.

Hill Section

Hooray, a new offering in the Hill Section, which previously had just one active listing.

1026 Pacific (4br/3ba, 2170 sq. ft.) seems to offer a lot of promise, with a very decent-looking throwback cottage feel and a big 6000 sq. ft. lot, but, man, is it going to be a project for someone.

The listing description tastefully says the home is now "on the market for the first time in 65 years." In this case, that means very little has been updated measurably since about 1948.

That may be unfair: We'd guess that some space was added to a much smaller, original cottage along the way. At 2100+ sq. ft., you're looking at a home that's almost twice size of the average 1940s/50s cottage built in MB. But that addition dates back, too.

Still, nothing is big. The square footage is really broken up into a series of smallish rooms, the layout a bit mazelike. There are 2br on the main level, then another in a halfway-up second floor, and another down a half flight of stairs, both probably coming from an addition a couple decades ago.

The back yard is basically nonexistent, here consisting of two levels of concrete patio that aren't really accessible from common areas.

Ocean-view potential is referenced in the listing. Yes, true. By building up, new, it seems that you'd probably see some blue from the break between houses afforded by 11th St. to the west. Not a big view, but something. The current house doesn't get those views.

What makes 1026 Pacific tough is that it doesn't seem quick or easy to update the whole building, and even if you did, it's not clear what kind of value that updated version would have. It would still be a quirky structure with no real yard. On the other hand, the start price would appear to be high for the land alone, given a location that can be a somewhat busy traffic corner. It's not exactly a premier Hill Section view lot.

Lots to puzzle over.

But this is 2013. Multiple offers are the norm. Why not at one of the Hill Section's few listings of the year? Watch out.

Disclosure: Dave has toured this property with a client.

1026 Pacific starts at $1.500M and is open Sat. & Sun. 2-4pm.

Tree Section

1404 Elm (3br/2ba, 1200 sq. ft.) is small, not so well-maintained, but has potential to be quite cute.

Curb appeal? Not so much now. It's a 50s cottage that mostly shows you a garage, with a long front couryard area that's been enclosed behind a wall and gate. Huge ficus trees dominate the front yard. (And look out below; those roots are notorious.)

As with so many homes, the appeal comes once you're inside. The main common spaces are open and bright, the kitchen partly modernized (granite counters, newer cabinets below – but why not above?).

Oddly, there's a fairly large, updated bathroom between the kitchen and the garage, toward the front of the house.

In back you'll find all 3 bedrooms, 2 of good size and a smallish one that was the brightest of the 3 when we visited in the afternoon. The most master-like of the 3 has sliding doors out to the backyard, where there's a covered patio, but all 3br share a somewhat updated bath. (Do you need to have your own bath to be the "master?")

That backyard is objectively cute. This is the perfect time of Spring to market a home with blooming wisteria over a back patio. Maybe the rest of the home isn't ready for its close-up, but the wisteria is.

If you're only going to have one main common area, as this house does, the space is cute and bright, with high, beamed ceilings, and nice divided windows up front that open up completely to draw a breeze through the home.

The home's being sold as-is and buyers will need to scrutinize things especially well. But as a "starter" home, or just a smaller place for a small family, it will do. With a coat of paint and a few minor fix-ups (we hope they're minor), this one could really sparkle.

The obvious comp among recent sales is 2700 Oak (3br/2ba, 1600 sq. ft.), which closed last week at $1.287M. That one has somewhat more square footage, was in better condition but lacked a real yard. And it was on Oak, backing up to a commercial property.

Disclosure: Dave has toured this property with a client.

1404 Elm starts at $1.279M and is open Sun. 1-4pm.

2301 Laurel (5br/5ba, 3400 sq. ft.) is a well-built and customized 2005 Cape Cod on a sunny corner lot near Martyrs.

Is it so spectacularly huge or different as to explain the $3M start price? That question's up to the market. The owners did pay $2.750M new back in 2005 and claim to have customized it to the tune of $200K more way-back-when, so it's easy to see why they're thinking 3. And fairly nearby on the street of dreams, 1813 John (5br/4ba, 3540 sq. ft.) is in escrow well above its $3M asking price, so, these days, who knows.

Oh, Dave, you get so focused on price.

From a corner lot, it's nice to enter off the side street (23rd in this case) instead of near the garage; you don't have the face of the people house interrupted by the car house, for one thing, and this setup frees up the layout a bit as well. You enter into a grand, bright, formal living room with high ceilings and fireplace. The dark-stained, gleaming, glossy flooring is striking, and continues down to the great room in back.

The kitchen is really great, with nice stone counters and cabinetry, and very tall ceilings. The great room opens to a smallish, paved back patio – very nice for outdoor living, not so much for teaching toddlers to play ball.

On the opposite side of the first floor is a guest bedroom/office, what would make for a truly nice home workspace if you needed it, with windows on two walls and facing the sunny southern side – that'd be a private, quiet, bright space.

Upstairs, the master is special, but here's the real surprise: Ocean views. From the easternmost part of the Martyrs area. OK, let's call a peek a peek, but it's true – standing in the master, you'll capture not just treetop vistas to the west, and not just the Martyrs steeple, but, yes, in a couple of spots, a strip of blue that's unmistakable. Ocean from the Trees.

Could you love this home? Easily.

Laurel may not be John, and those ocean views may be peeks, but this is is a nice mix of great location and a newer home with style that will please just about anyone.

2301 Laurel starts at $2.999M and is open Sun. 2-5pm.

East MB

1250 Shelley (3br/3ba, 1860 sq. ft.) is definitely a pleasant surprise. Yes, it's a late-60s house with a dated exterior, and the location's pretty far east and near the high school, but...

Well-maintained, freshly carpeted and painted, with a truly nice backyard and quiet, cul-de-sac location, this one has more going for it than we expected as-is, and some upside if you retool it.

This little pocket of East MB, with its wide cul-de-sac street, sidewalks and 60s/70s houses, has more of a Brady Bunch feel than you'd expect. MB's real estate is almost, by nature, eclectic, with each house being developed, or redeveloped, in some different era. Here, on this street, there's more uniformity, though no two houses are exactly alike.

At 1250 Shelley, all the living spaces are downstairs, with a once-in-fashion step-down living room (with once-in-fashion mirrored walls), plus more of a family room in back and a casual dining area within the kitchen. As we saw it, a "formal" dining room was absent, unless/until you repurpose the smaller family room, which opens to the yard.

The house was built to open to the yard, though. There's even a pass-through window over the sink in the kitchen to the backyard, with a little ledge there, encouraging something of an outdoor living vibe.

Upstairs, the master is big, if clunky, with bonus space off in one corner, and a bath that's clean, but all 60s/70s in feel. Old bifold doors wrap around a fairly large double corner closet. The other bedrooms are fine. Everything is a little blank – intentionally, we'd guess – with white walls and light, cream-colored carpet. Laundry is in the garage. (That, too, was once in fashion, but why?)

If you want or need an entry-level home in MB, this one's inoffensive, imperfect, and unexpected, surprising to the upside.

1250 Shelley starts at $1.175M, and is open Sat. & Sun. 2-4pm.

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