When the Alley TH Is Worth More

By Dave Fratello | April 15th, 2020

There are rules and exceptions to the values for townhomes in Manhattan Beach.

Typically, one unit is on a main street and one is on an alley/street behind.

Most often, the "front" unit on the street is the more valuable unit. The difference can run 10-20% or more.

That conventional wisdom has been inverted with a new pair of sales.

217 21st Place Manhattan Beach CA217 21st Place (3br/4ba, 1965 sqft.) has just closed for $3.815M.

That's the alley unit actually selling for $65K more than its front-unit twin at 216 Marine Ave. (3br/4ba, 1950 sqft.). That one closed in mid-March for $3.750M.

Both units have the same floorplan and finishes (nice!), and (importantly) nearly equivalent ocean views.

But we kinda saw this coming.

216 Marine Manhattan Beach CAAs we said in our first open-house review in August:

"Picking a favorite is actually a bit of a challenge... The rear (alley) unit on 21st Place is $150K less pricey, but has the more coveted south-facing ocean views, including the pier. The front unit's position on Marine offers perhaps bigger views, as Marine is a wide street, putting homes across the way a bit further away."

216 Marine Manhattan Beach CAUnstated in our review was the factor that is, perhaps, the answer to why the rear unit sold higher: Marine Ave. That street is fairly busy around the front unit, where the master bedroom is. Beyond that, it's probably the fact that south-facing views tend to be preferred over north-facing views.

The first time we showed these townhomes to potential buyers, we discussed the possibility that the rear unit might sell higher in the end, despite coming to market $150K lower than the Marine Ave. unit.

And here we are. It happened.

Worth noting: Both townhomes were first offered informally at $4.100M, but when first posted to the MLS, start prices were $4.100M for 216 Marine and $3.950M for 217 21st Place. That's the $150K gap referenced above.

This means that not only did the rear unit sell higher, it performed better against the first public asking price. It sold 3% under start, while the front unit sold 8% under start.

How they stack up: Here's a small selection of other recent, comparable new-construction townhome sales:

2204 Alma Avenue Manhattan Beach CA2204 Alma (4br/4ba, 2600 sqft.): $3.778M (Jan. 2020)

221 1st St. (3br/4ba, 2000 sqft.): $3.600M (Aug. 2019)

217 1st St. (3br/4ba, 2000 sqft.): $3.912M (May 2019)


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