Weekend Opens (9/10-9/11)

By Dave Fratello | September 10th, 2011
Generally speaking, you should expect a little inventory spike after Labor Day. Though we'll cover several new listings, it's no flood.

In fact, if we did not decide to cover townhomes, we'd be talking about just 2 new listings. See our reviews below.

A word about this (seemingly) momentous weekend. Before this year, there were 9 separate anniversaries of 9/11. Yes, this one seems somehow different. Landmark anniversaries are like that. You look back, reflect.

One way to do that publicly, locally, is early Sunday at the corner of 15th/Valley, in front of the Fire Station where the city has a 9/11 memorial. They've called it for 8:00am, but if that seems early, it's late for the 8:46am (Eastern) national moment of silence.

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.

Sand Section

This week in the Sand, it's the Battle of the Dueling Townhomes. There are 3 entrants in this contest to see which TH priced between $1.65m-$1.8m can be the first to nab a buyer, and which will be the last one standing, trying whatever it takes to attract attention.

In this square-off, 436 23rd (3br/4ba, 2470 sq. ft.) begins as the clear front-runner.

Though it's a 3-level TH, it's got size and breadth that repeatedly surprises and impresses. The 40' wide lot has something to do with this – that's 10 feet more than you'd often see.

We initially counted 4 bedrooms, including 3 together on the middle level with 1 big one on the first floor, but, alas, one on the midlevel has no closet and counts only as a "bonus room" legally. (Good for a nursery or office.)

The top-level living area is very spacious, including a more-than-adequately-sized kitchen with breakfast bar plus a separate space for dining. On the top level, as with the 2 official bedrooms on the midlevel, there's a very healthy-sized balcony/deck. Upstairs this means a true indoor/outdoor living option. There are some ocean views down the street from each one.

Forward-looking bonus: A 3-stop elevator will get groceries and/or guests from the garage level up to where the action is up top. In 1999, when this one was built, that seemed to be less common than now, as it's increasingly a must-have item.

The location at the top of the hill is on a low-traffic street that's very near the elementary school and just a short walk down to the beach. The block is a bit of a jumble, with lots of multi-family units of different eras.

One reason this one's a front-runner is the size, while the other is price: $1.649m and <$700/PSF.

Points of reference: This TH traded in 2003 for $1.260m and in 2008 for $1.740m.

436 23rd starts at $1.649m and is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.

2517 Bayview (3br/3ba, 2050 sq. ft.), as the second-newest of the 3 THs (1996 build), has a few advantages.

It's got nice ocean and park views (Bruce's Beach park) from the top level, and a fairly up-to-date overall feel. (The kitchen could use a bit of an upgrade.)

The layout will pose a challenge, though. The master is on the midlevel with the garage, while 2 other bedrooms are downstairs on the lowest level. (The TH is built into a downslope.) A small patio is shared between the lower-level bedrooms.

Upstairs, we were slightly perplexed at the built-in seating along the view windows – if you sit there, aren't you missing the big picture? The way it's staged, this is supposed to be a TV-watching area, but that didn't seem workable.

Overall: clean, somewhat modern, slightly more spacious than other THs, nice views. But is it a $900/PSF house?

2517 Bayview is priced at $1.799m ($877/PSF) and is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.

2405 Bayview (2br/3ba, 1975 sq. ft.) is clearly the hardest case of the bunch, but it's got one giant asset that it can lord over the others – really big ocean views from an older (1983) building that exceeds height limits for new construction.

First, the tough stuff. Did you read that capsule above? Two bedrooms means a very limited buyer pool.

And the 4-plex this TH is a part of seems to have a number of deferred-maintenance issues. This unit, for instance, has a 3-level, outdoor spiral staircase that's literally disintegrating as we speak – rust is not only evident, it's dominant, having eaten away at the posts and steps to the point that they're not just unusable, they're plainly dangerous.

On the plus side, both outside and inside, here's the nice phrase that occurred to us: "Old San Francisco." Sure, the unit's dated in its way, but it's built with an inspired, classic style that could work with some polishing.

As the current residents have the home set up, it's confusing – the master bedroom (one of two!) on the middle level is set up as a second living room, taking some advantage of views to the west, but rendering the quite large master bath irrelevant. The smaller bedroom to the rear has an attached bath, too, but nothing like the true master.

Upstairs, the bright living space has potential, but again the current use of space causes some head-scratching. The kitchen seems to have been updated significantly, though the fridge is positioned far from the hub of activity.

Oh, but those views. You're looking over a modern home to the south and it's much lower. That may be permanent with the changes in height limits. So hello PV and Catalina. To the west: It's 2 more units of the same complex. They're not going to impose any time soon, either. When the listing calls these "amazing, unobstructable views," we're more inclined than usual to say, "hey, you're right."

Surprisingly, 2405 Bayview is the highest-priced offering of these 3 by PPSF: $881/PSF, with an overall list price of $1.749m. That must be the view premium, because neither the number of bedrooms nor condition justify it.

Point of reference: This TH sold in Nov. 2005 for $1.750m.

2405 Bayview starts at $1.749m and is open Sun. 1-4pm.

Tree Section

625 13th (3br/3ba, 2025 sq. ft.) is a very pleasant surprise in the Martyrs neighborhood, though it clearly won't work for the typical family.

The 1970s original was radically and sharply remade in 2002 with a clean, slick, modern style. Though the property has been a rental for some time, it's still very sharp.

Downstairs are 2 amply sized bedrooms, including what we'll call the "first" master in back, with a large and super showpiece of a bath. This master also opens to a small, enclosed patio. The other downstairs bedroom also has an attached bath.

Upstairs, the main living space includes a sleek kitchen with island opening up to the wide-open living and dining spaces. A balcony off the back enjoys spacious views to the north, thanks to the very-low-slung triplex (on a huge 7250 sq. ft. lot) on the other side of the fence.

The "second" master upstairs is also spacious with the second-best bath, and the dual french doors to the front balcony offer ocean peeks if you step out. Unfortunately, this bath also serves the upstairs living spaces, and requires walking into the bedroom for access.

Point of reference: 625 13th sold in Sept. 2008 for $1.499m.

625 13th starts now at $1.499m, and is open Sat. & Sun. 2-4pm.

576 33rd (3br/3ba, 2000 sq. ft.) may be literally the most you could possibly make of this 1950s cottage without radical surgery.

It's an extremely pleasing, updated, warmly modern home on a larger lot (5025 sq. ft.) west of Blanche and near the (now quiet) Sand Dune.

As this pic prominently displays, the main living room – just off the modern kitchen – opens out to a big front patio are that gives you the indoor/outdoor living that people in California really ought to be taking advantage of.

Inside, besides the stunning kitchen, all the baths are fully updated and attractive.

There is this issue, though, of having just 2 bedrooms in the main house.

The third is in a separate building above the garage. It's a full-fledged, self-contained guest suite with a modern bath and built-in shelving, etc., but it's totally separate.

In the main house, the master is almost huge, again with lots of stylish built-ins, opening out to the back patio/yard area.

The home may work as-is for empty-nesters or small families who simply groove with it as it stands. Your typical Tree Section buyer needs more space now, not later.

Point of reference: 576 33rd last traded for $1.630m in May 2005.

576 33rd starts now at $1.475m and is open Sat. & Sun. 1-4pm.

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