Weekend Opens (6/11-6/12)

By Dave Fratello | June 11th, 2011
Here comes Summer. You can tell from the sun-drenched crowds cold, misty mornings and the sun's desperate struggle to break through by 5pm each day.

All people seem to worry about is whether we're due for another "bummer summer" of cool temps. Ask someone back east how much fun it is to have August hit with full force in June. If the alternative is long sleeves till Labor Day, we'll take it.

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 active the market or thinking about it, please consider asking MBC for help in identifying the right agent for your needs. See our referrals page for a little more.

Sand Section

Everyone knows Uncle Bill's, but if you live at 225 13th (4br/4ba, 3200 sq. ft.), you're closer to one of downtown's quieter treasures, the neighboring Ocean View Café. (No paid endorsement here, just your blog author's fandom.) 

Ah, to live literally downtown, steps from everything, with big ocean views, and a newer (2000) house nicely oriented toward the walkstreet – pretty sweet.

You will notice that for a modern walkstreet home, this one feels familiar but seems to stop short somehow. That's because the lot's just a hair over 2000 sq. ft., instead of the more standard 2700 sq. ft. (A municipal parking lot and an apartment complex are off the rear, chopping a bit off the back.)

And while that means about 1000 sq. ft. less of living space inside than you might see elsewhere, there's nothing really missing – frankly, it's enough.

We liked the beachy feel of the light maple flooring and abundant windows. These days, even the beach homes tend toward darker woods. The master gets great views, and – as we noted above – the walkstreet orientation means a first-floor living space that opens out to a big patio with seating and a cooking area. (Though you can always skip cooking and grab food next door.)

The transformation of this home from its prior condition with an all-white exterior to a more naturalistic series of browns and beiges works, except for the white-framed windows, which now stick out.

This weekend marks the first public open we're aware of, after more than a month on market. It wouldn't have lasted this long if $3.090m were a steal. (It's down from a start at $3.350m.) That price scratches at $1,000/PSF, but for all its charms, this is not a $1,000/PSF house. And if not, what is it?

225 13th is at $3.090m, and is open Sun. 2-5pm.

452 28th Place (3br/4ba, 2000 sq. ft.) is a very sharp, but tight, newer (2003) build on a half lot on an alley up on the plateau.

We must note that one of the benefits of the plateau streets is that rare sense of an intimate neighborhood – even if the parked cars along those streets squish all the walking-around space. Yet with 28th Place being an alley, and one almost entirely consisting of the garages of other homes, much of the location benefit just isn't there. You walk the same number of steps to the beach as the folks on the main streets, but it's just not the same. [UPDATE: A neighbor wrote MBC to object to that characterization, saying that 28th Place actually hops with kid activity after school and on weekends. Point taken.]

Get yourself inside 452 28th Place, though, and you'll find what's nice here. The layout's familiar from Sand Section half-lot townhomes (this is an SFR), with one bedroom suite on the ground level by itself and 2 others up on a different floor. At this home, you enter on the middle level with the kitchen and ample, bright living room, and the other bedrooms are actually on the top floor.

You can't quite catch an ocean view from the common rooms, but you do get various peeks from the top level. There, the 2 bedrooms are almost both masters – the suite for the secondary br (we were thinking "mini-master") is substantial enough, until you see the bath for the true master, which is bigger and really shines. The home's best ocean views come at the top of a small set of steps going up to almost a third-and-a-half floor lookout space, where you get PV and blue panoramas over the rooftops of neighboring homes. Sadly there's not much space to stretch out on the little landing.

452 28th Place sold instantly when new in '03 for $1.125m, was up again in '06 for $1.6m before selling for $1.350m in June 2006, then got a substantial restyling with a much more modern flair by the current owners.

Now 28th Place starts at $1.379m, and is open Sat. & Sun. 2-5pm.

3112 The Strand (duplex w/ two 3br units) launched "ambitiously," as we said in January, at $6.9m, but it's now down nearly a mil at $5.999m, and we'd find a bigger chop unsurprising. (See "Clogged Strand Finds a $6m Option.")

In fact, the listed price in the BR's list of brokers' opens for Friday was $5.599m – $400k off the actual list price – along with the slug "Incredible Price Reduction." Our first reaction: At this point, even that wouldn't be so "incredible."

The late-60s build is nicely situated high above the Strand and beach, with stunning 2-story view windows in the main (top) unit that are featured from the main upstairs bedroom.

The building does suffer from a dated, plain-vanilla (i.e. rental) feeling overall, plus a quirky layout in the main unit, and as such is probably more valuable for the land and location than for the structure – at least as-is.

3112 The Strand is now at $5.999m, not yet $5.599m, and is open Sat. & Sun. 2-5pm.

Tree Section

2713 Elm (3br/2ba, 2050 sq. ft.) aims to be the bargain of the week in the Trees, asking $1.199m for an almost mid-sized house on a bigger lot (5600 sq. ft.).

It's hard to get a thrill out of this late-40s house –  an addition in back created the 3rd/master bedroom – where so much needs updating and upgrading, but the home is livable and, at turns, charming for the period while its next stages are being planned.

Major remodel? Rebuild? Look one door to the south – they're nearing completion on a completely new house.

As it stands, 2713 Elm offers a quirky, but decent place. There are lots of little step-ups and step-downs in the house and even outdoors in the yard. The main hallway bath features a dated stall shower and an unusually tall soaking tub. Cabinet doors throughout are very plain and feel old. And the master bath was probably quite fresh in the late 70s/early 80s.

The bright living spaces and their divided windows and french doors offer some charms. And the kitchen, while not really remodeled, does feature a professional-grade stove, a nice bonus.

2713 Elm starts at $1.199m and is open Sat. only, 1-4pm.

3521 Walnut (5br/4ba, 3250 sq. ft.) is sweet, custom Craftsman filled with lovely woods and packing a surprise or two.

The home has a pretty familiar layout, with a big, bright living room off the entry and great room in back, and featuring one "bedroom" opening with double doors onto the living room (currently a child's playroom). You step down into the family room off the kitchen. 

Upstairs, it seems that each room has both built-ins with a Craftsman style and furniture to match. You'd almost want the home sold furnished to keep everything together.

One of those pleasant surprises: A sizable storage/mini-playroom off the kids' bedrooms up front with a little cupboard door. Another surprise (you decide if it's a plus or what): A big saltwater fish tank in the family room is accessible by a separate service room. Now that's custom.

The glass, tile and stone used throughout the home are custom and unusual, befitting the style. Many windows use opaque rain glass, or even stained glass, to let light in without seeing the house next door, or whatever you might see.

And there's the issue. Walnut has a significant location issue, as this portion of the street feels very close to the refinery. With the rise in the hill on this stretch of the block, you get nice rooftop and treetop views due west and south, but the big industrial neighbor to the north can be very noticeable.

As we toured, there was a clickety-clack and swishing/spraying noise coming from the refinery – maybe normal operations and possibly from one of their trains coming or going. Most of the home is built to steer away from refinery views, but lying in bed in the master in back, you'd be looking right at it.

The sellers need someone who loves Craftsman style as much as they do, and can abide the location, as they have. A start at $1.899m suggests more focus on the lovable parts, not enough of a discount yet for the location. To the plus side, the owners say they may offer a first TD to a buyer.

3521 Walnut is open Sun. 2-5pm. If you can't tour Sunday, check out the video slideshow with music here. (For some reason, there are no pics in the listing, so that's where to see them.)

Next door, 3525 Walnut (4br/4ba, 3500 sq. ft.) is also looking for visitors at the same time Sunday. But be ready for a real shock in the change of styles if you've seen the Craftsman first.

This home is more of a Caliterranean  resembling a lot of spec construction of the last decade (it's a 2001 build), but inside, it's not all beiges and taupes. Nope. Bold, custom colors, wallpapers and elaborate décor all bring a strong Asian theme to the space. (The degree of this custom detail is not so apparent in the listing pics.)

The listing says there are 5br, the flyer says 4br + office and we counted 3br plus office – the office being a full suite with bath downstairs that clearly should qualify as a bedroom if outfitted differently. A smallish octagonal playroom upstairs may be the missing bedroom, but we didn't see a closet.

The home offers nice space if you can see past the current custom look. The home's impeded by the same location issue we described next door.

3525 Walnut is bigger than the Craftsman neighbor (by 250 sq. ft.) but starts $104k lower at $1.795m. It's open Sun. 2-5pm.

3204 Poinsettia (3br/2ba, 1750 sq. ft.) is a sharp remodel of a 50s cottage with a big, wide open great room in back and bonus space downstairs. The kitchen is almost enormous for a smaller house like this; the home is plenty bright.

Yard space is not very usable – with the downslope toward the back, you wind up with a deck off the great room upstairs and a grassy patch and concrete patio off the downstairs bonus room.

This home was flipped successfully in 2007 by the folks who had redone it – for the record, they paid $1.230m in early 2005 and resold it after upgrades for $1.515m in Summer 2007.

Getting out now, the current owners are going to leave some equity behind.

3204 Poinsettia starts at $1.329m (-$186k/-12% off acquisition) and is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.

621 27th (3br/2ba, 1500 sq. ft.) was rehabbed, rebuilt and flipped in late 2003. The property actually sold quickly in 2001, 2002 and 2003, with the first 2 being "as-is" listings and the third being the home in its present, modernized condition.

The kitchen is high-end, the living room features lovely wood floors and vaulted ceilings, and the master suite in back is sharp with a big, modern bath. Even the secondary bedrooms are of pretty decent size.

The back yard isn't much, a quiet little grassy area with a square brick hole – probably once housing a hot tub – now covered over by an impromptu wooden deck.

Over time, the limited common space could become an issue. And we'd worry a bit about the shared-driveway arrangement with the similar 40s-era cottage next door – might you lose access to the garage in the back if the neighbor got scraped and redeveloped?

621 27th sold for $1.025m in Nov. 2003, but starts now at $1.399m, and is open Sun. 1-4pm.

1816 Pacific (2br/1ba, 975 sq. ft.) offers very little house, a real squish, without many indoor updates. (The kitchen has some newer appliances.)

The home's a 1950s original that seems to have been kept largely as-is, with a big exception: out back. There, behind gates, you'll find both an ample swimming pool and an above-ground hot tub, both set over newer stone pavers. It's quite a contrast – an almost modern rec area if you look in one direction, a dated garage and home if you look the other way.

They coined the phrase "starter home" for cases like this. If you can go with 2 bedrooms for a while before scraping the house or adding on, it's cute and livable enough, if unspectacular. The 5080 sq. ft. lot does stretch back nicely off busy Pacific, such that the back yard seems almost quiet. So there's something to work with.

1816 Pacific starts at $1.059m, and is open Sun. 1-4pm.

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