Weekend Opens (9/24-9/25)

By Dave Fratello | September 24th, 2011
An interesting crop this week as we see a $3m spec home, a grand TH with a location issue, a dollhouse and 2 difficult homes competing for buyers' attention.

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.

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Sand Section

They're saying 544 3rd St. in the South End will be open Sun. 1-4pm.

It's a 3-story, brand-new Cape Cod. (No MLS listing or pics yet, and agents weren't invited Friday.)

This newbie was built on the site of a wreck of a home that was facing foreclosure back in 2009 and referenced here at MBC when the bad loans totaled $1.1m.

Turns out the developers got this lot for $877,500. The new home's up for $2.979m.

And you really should be asking yourself: Why didn't I grab that lot for $877k?

Again, 544 3rd is open Sun. 1-4pm.

2319 Grandview (3br/4ba, 2400 sq. ft.) is a very pleasant surprise for a TH across the street from the elementary school.

On our first step in, we saw that something was different. Those are true, old-wood, distressed floors, with wooden pegs. Look up and around, and you start to see great details all around – quality construction that frankly exceeds what you'd expect in an off location.

Similarly, the master suite exceeds expectations, with a truly different and sumptuous bath.

Upstairs, the views to the east capture the gently rolling hills and treetops of the Tree Section, a "grand" view, if you will, that is too rarely available or featured.

A note about the bedrooms: In keeping with the common layout for 3-story Sand Section THs, you get 1 full bedroom suite on the first floor by itself, but there is a third quasi-bedroom on the midlevel, too – no closet disqualifies it but it's plenty big and obviously now serves as a bedroom. If you wanted, you could call this a 4br home.

A note about parking: They claim 6-car parking, though one of those spaces is now outfitted and shown off as a media room, with curtains walling it off from parking and storage. There's an idea.

2319 Grandview starts at $1.850m, and is open Sun. 2-5pm.

Tree Section

709 33rd (4br/4ba, 3450 sq. ft.) is a classically styled charmer on a great block, which just launched at $1.899m. Much like 2509 Laurel last week, this one has "quick sale potential" written all over it. We'll see.

The exterior photos don't quite bring out the feel of the place, a late-80s build which has variously inspired descriptions like "gingerbread house," "Hansel & Gretel's place" and "grandma's cottage." The listing calls it a "French Chateau."

No one description is nailing it, but you have to love getting a break from "Cape Cod" vs. "Mediterranean" with something architecturally interesting. The home's actually quite conventional and timeless – not the 21st century construction you see all around town, but also not a home laden with the artifacts of one or two additions or remodels. It's mostly well done and somewhat formal.

Kitchen at 709 33rd  
As you enter, there's (sunken) formal living to the left and formal dining to the right. A library/den adjoins the living room. In back, a big and very nicely redone kitchen opens to a family room and is brightened by 2-story windows into the back yard. A half-circle of built-in seating makes for fun, informal dining.

Upstairs, there are 3br (the 4th is in an outbuilding over the garage). One has a lovely peaked ceiling and opens to a balcony overlooking the yard. The master is more of a challenge, a head-scratcher in some ways – the bath and bedroom are separated by fairly short walls that don't go all the way up the peaked ceiling. We loved the windows, however.

The back yard is dominated now by a pool, which has just been resurfaced. (The water's murky and the deep-grey/black finish isn't evident yet.) There's also a goodly patch of grass. Over the garage is a much-bigger-than-expected 4th br. suite with bath, chill space and kitchenette – much more than the in-laws would expect. They might even stay longer.

Oddities and fixes: A second staircase dominates the kitchen/great-room space and views out to the back yard. It should come out, connecting the kitchen more directly to the back yard, while opening the informal dining space up. Also, up those (doomed) stairs is a large, long landing that's now used for laundry and storage. (Laundry with a view!) Surely there's a better way to use this light, bright, semi-prime space.

Finally, the use of glass block in a few places dates the home – your eye may say, "why did they add glass block to this 100-year-old home," rather than, "why did the designers break from their model and use glass block?" It's gotta go.

Art tour bonus: Open-house visitors will note that the master bedroom prominently displays an unusual painting that appears to depict some sort of inter-species nursing. Suggested title: "Baby's First Halloween."

709 33rd starts at $1.899m and is open Sat. & Sun. 2-5pm.

1717 Pine (4br/2ba, 2325 sq. ft.) is a difficult house that we overheard someone calling "unusual" as we walked up. The odd word "differenter" had just popped into mind a moment before. And all of that was before we even set foot inside. Turned out to be the right word.

Here's a classic case of what happens to some older homes (this one being a 1949 original) that get added onto or "updated" in phases or as-the-mood-strikes, without much of an overall design.

As to bedrooms, the 2-up/2-down layout isn't great, and it raises eyebrows further to see the 2 up include an unusual shared master bath ("jack and jill master?").

The backyard, paved over as it is, is on the larger side, and might be nice with landscaping instead. In front, the home is entirely walled off from Pine Ave. by 8-foot hedges.

1717 Pine starts at $1.350m and is open Sat. & Sun. 2-4pm. 

2404 Palm (4br/3ba, 3075 sq. ft.) offers a lot of square footage on a good block, but they have always had trouble selling it due to its strange layout and "contemporary" look.

After a failed run earlier this year, the sellers went back and did some work to dramatically soften the look – bye, bye contemporary – and bring it closer to an acceptable standard for the mainstream buyer.

It's still got the major layout liability of a master up front and upstairs, separated from the 3 kids' bedrooms two whole stories down and in back on the home's partly subterranean first level. (We discussed the home in some detail in Oct. 2007 in "Unique Ain't Always Great.") And those bedrooms, while brighter on our recent visit than we recalled from '07, still feel like basement rooms, with windows opening to the shoring and fence on either side of the house. One, outfitted as an office, has doors opening to the back patio.

Pricing history on this one:
  • Oct. 2007: $1.895m
  • Nov. 2007: $1.749m
  • Feb. 2011: $1.400m
  • Apr. 2011: $1.365m
  • Sept. 2011: $1.550m
So they've bumped the price up to pay for the remodel. They also took out an inducement to buyers' agents offered this Spring – they were going to give a 3% bounty to the buyer's agent, a tad above the 2.5% that's standard.

2404 Palm starts at $1.550m and is open Sun. 2-4pm.

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