Weekend Opens (8/6-8/7)

By Dave Fratello | August 6th, 2011

On any given Friday, especially midsummer, the mix of new offerings is unpredictable.

This week provided one of the most diverse set of debuts in a while.

Whether you're home and looking for places to tour, or touring someplace far away and longing for home, check out the newcomers.

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.

Hill Section

508 Larsson (5br/6ba, 4680 sq. ft.) is a gorgeous, heavy, serious and extremely custom home. The labor of love and the extra money and effort poured into making it sing is apparent everywhere. It's no run-of-the-mill spec home with a mere "Tuscan" flavor – quite the opposite, as seen in the reclaimed wood floors and beams, ornate imported stone hearth, extravagant ironwork, and so on and so on.

But, boy, does this one have a location issue. It's on the Sepulveda side of Larsson, and right next door is a commercial parking lot (to the left in this picture). Off the back yard, you see office buildings, the plus side of which is that they serve as a bulwark against Hwy. 1 traffic noise.

All the upstairs bedrooms are suites with built-in sound systems, with the master even more tricked out. (It's got a round entry foyer with domed ceiling and mosaic tiles to welcome you into the suite.) The home even sports a classy saltwater pool, spa and cabana out back, everything dressed to the nines, and the patio by the pool area opens back into the great room through folding glass walls.

The home sports a completion date of December 2010, but the story is that the owners, having just completed this elaborate project for themselves, have found another home and they're off. They grabbed the 6877 sq. ft. lot in Sept. '08 for $980k to launch this custom build.

508 Larsson starts at $2.999m, and is open Sun. 1-4pm.

Sand Section

Yes, they really mean for the listing to feature this curious, diagonal pic to help sell 512 1st (4br/4ba, 3475 sq. ft.). The idea seems to be, roughly: Think different. (Can we say that now without being sued by Apple?)

And 512 1st does require you to bend your mind around the current layout, or re-imagine it with some work or rearranging of the layout.

Why bend your mind like this? Because this is a lot of space in the South End – nearly 3500 sq. ft. – on a bigger-than-normal lot (4000 sq. ft.) with another big, added bonus: Direct access, though a back gate, to the grassy playing fields at Robinson Elementary. Big prizes, those.

Side note: This is the second house this year to come on the market that could legitimately claim the biggest backyard in MB – same "backyard." The other was neighboring 516 1st (3br/2ba, 1175 sq. ft.) at $1.170m.

The home is a mid-90s-built contemporary, and it shows its period around several corners. (Speaking of corners, Janie Sue Nagy notes: "[I]t does have a number of rooms with curved walls, which leave unusable corner spaces.") The most curious parts of the layout, though, are the separation of bedrooms – 3 downstairs, master on the top level with living space sandwiched between on the midlevel – and the extra bedroom/guest suite/office/gym in a separate building above the garage. Can you take it like it is?

There is a sweet, private yard space between the buildings, now set up with a koi pond and even a hot tub. And a family/fun room downstairs – now featuring the main big-screen – opens out to that space nicely.

A definite plus: The kitchen is the most up-to-date and attractive part of the house, and the whole home has recently been cleaned, freshened and painted, so it shows as well as it possibly can. If the layout and style work for you, it's move-in ready with a change of carpeting.

A reader who's a neighbor has noted before that MBC always refers to "busy 1st street." True, 1st is part of the main east-west artery for this region of MB (see 2nd St. in the Hills) and it picks up school traffic during much of the year. With most of 512 1st tucked in the back of the big lot, that's not as big of a factor. (Consider it before making that bonus room your office.)

512 1st starts at $1.879m and is open Sat. & Sun. 1-5pm.

305 18th (5br/4ba, 2425 sq. ft.) is actually a duplex with a 3br/2ba main house (which is open) and a 2br rental unit in back (not open).

The structure bears a 1964 build date, and while it's been updated along the way – notably with nice wood flooring and sort of contemporary aesthetic – some of that remodeling has been haphazard. The main unit, for instance, has a great ocean view from an odd, enclosed back room that seems to have once been a balcony. It's a great view! But you have to go through a bedroom to get there.

No bedroom has an attached bath. What could be called the master bath, with a big soaking/jacuzzi tub, is by itself in a hallway on the top floor. It's that very rare master bath with a gigantic ocean view from the tub. The dark, stall shower has a plastic curtain. (Living here, you might start to take more baths.)

By far the best views are from the living/chill room upstairs at the front. Here, the hill of 18th St. has taken a sharp jog up off of Highland – the highway seems to be almost no factor – and you get commanding Santa Monica Bay/PV views. This living room is the crow's nest of the home, and thank heavens for the bar and bath attached to it, because you may want to spend all your time there.

The back unit is generating below-market income now and might make a good contributor to the monthly nut some day.

305 18th is priced at $2.190m, and is open Sun. 2-4pm.

Tree Section

608 29th (4br/4ba, 3070 sq. ft.) promises so much. It's got a lot of space on a great block. As you'll see in the pics, the 1990 build has some updates and an open feel.

When 608 first posted this week, we took a client through as soon as possible. Sorry to say, excitement turned to disappointment. The home has an "upside-down" or "flip-flop" layout, with the 3 main bedrooms downstairs, and living spaces (+1br) upstairs. It wasn't going to work.

Upside-down layouts are usually for view homes. Those are few in the Trees. At 608 29th, there is an interesting big-blue-sky view and some hilly areas with homes to be seen to the south, but the upstairs great room doesn't quite maximize those. (We'd like to see more. One word: Nanawalls.)

We were impressed with the more-updated kitchen and the ample, grassy yard with plenty of play space, patio/outdoor living and even tasteful landscaping. The yard makes 608 29th appear to have more land than its 4800 sq. ft. lot actually does. Neighboring homes have been built back further on their lots and offer little to no yard space, underscoring the accomplishment here of preserving good exterior space.

Worth noting: With the upside-down layout, the yard is accessed either through the master (sigh) or down a set of stairs from the balcony off the great room. It's not in view of the kitchen or great room.

The great room offers a big family room with soaring ceilings that still feels kind of like a blank slate – you could make it really interesting – and there's a nice open office/homework space upstairs with tons of storage. Among the baths, the master is pretty much at 21st century standards, even if the others lag a bit.

We'll say now what we said to the client: Someone is going to make the tradeoffs work. The location and size plus a nice yard are big draws for a family. The layout and the rough edges needing work require some thought, work and discounts.

One thing's for sure: This one is selling. The location's so good, the sellers are just moving up the street.

608 29th starts at $1.775m and is open Sun. 2-4pm.


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. Blog author Dave Fratello will also work with some clients on a case-by-case basis. See our referrals pagefor a little more.

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