Where It's Slow

By Dave Fratello | October 22nd, 2013

We keep hearing talk to the effect that the market in Manhattan Beach is "slowing," but that seems to be either a hope or a fantasy, for the most part.

Look, it's late October – there should be fewer listings and fewer sales, based on seasonal factors alone. But a "slowing" would need to leave a better trail of evidence.

As you recall, our already-light inventory got chopped by 20% within the span of a couple weeks recently, and lots of new offerings continue to draw multiple offers.

So where's this "slowing?"

Look up high at the high end.

We sorted the 47 listings active as of Monday afternoon by their combined days on market (CDOM). That's the total number of days exposed to market, irrespective of any re-listing. (The CDOM "clock" is only reset to zero by 90 days of off-market time.)

Instantly, we saw that 15 of the 17 longest-running listings were priced at $2.399M or above – many way above.

10 of those 15 are priced at $3.5M or higher. And 5 are at $5M or higher.

Are these listings "overpriced," or just so very pricey as to be out of reach of most buyers?

Yes, to at least one in each case.

The priciest CDOM champs at this time:

250 S. Dianthus (5br/7ba, 8500 sq. ft., on a 14,000+ lot) is a classic estate that, for a time, was called "Summerhill." It has been offered for sale more or less continuously since June 2012.

It's at 508 CDOM now.

They had a buyer for a while in Spring 2013, when the price was down to $7.950M, down $4M from its start, but that did not work out.

The sellers may be sellers, but they don't seem to be improving their prospects by raising the price. It's currently at $9.900M with a new agent these past 2 months.

1240 5th (6br/7ba, 10,000 sq. ft.) falls far behind Summerhill in terms of market time, and about $3M behind on (current) price, asking $6.999M. (Down $1M from start.)

This one has 354 CDOM.

Like Summerhill, it's more of a true estate than a lot of homes you'd see on the market in MB. In this case, it's on one of the best streets in East MB, the private drive of the 5th St. cul-de-sac. (Advertising for the listing sometimes refers to this as the "Fifth Street Forest.")

There's no doubting the appeal of this one – luxe, huge and ornate, private and plenty of space to spread out or entertain.

If they can sell this one near the $7M mark it's at now, it would be only the third sale in East MB history (on the MLS) to exceeed $5M.

And one of those two past sales over $5M was a sale of this property, at $5.860M, in May 2006.

316 23rd (3br/3ba, 1940 sq. ft.) is a modern SFR on a half lot that is up to 351 CDOM now.

They made a deal this Summer after raising the price by $100K (nice feat!), but it didn't stick.

It's back down now to $2.895M, where it was before the lucky price boost, but that $1,500/PSF remains awfully ambitious.

That's just about where the slightly smaller, downtown-adjacent 217 9th was shooting last year before a long comedown to a sale in May this year at $2.250M. Just worth noting.

Just behind that one, timewise, and far above it, pricewise, is 112 23rd Place (3br/4ba, 1950 sq. ft.).

This attached townhome has run for 314 CDOM at $3.500M, with no price cuts along the way, just a bogus re-list in May.

It seems clear that we are not living in the day when a 1950 sq. ft. townhome is worth $3.500M. Though that time may come, the kids will be looking at retirement homes grad schools by then.

You wonder sometimes: Could the MLS provide a "Make Me Move" teaser-type listing to separate out the really fanciful listings like this one? For now it's frankly clogging up the inventory.

They're trying to sweeten the deal a little, though – buyers' agents are offered a 3% commission on this sale, as opposed to the 2.5% that's standard in Manhattan Beach. Maybe instead of offering a $17K bounty, they could invest a little bit in quality listing photos?

200 S. Dianthus (4br/5ba, 3925 sq. ft.) will complete our roundup here.

It's now at 236 CDOM, split between two listings and two agents. (It's not really "bogus" when a new agent takes over and re-lists the property, but consumers should still know the true market exposure.)

We've called this one a "decent," 10-year-old home in the very southernmost part of the Hill Section. It's built with an upside-down layout to maximize views. Some of the square footage (and presumably what's considered the 4th bedroom) is actually a separate unit over the garage, accessed up an outdoor spiral staircase.

This one was offered quietly off-market last year, hit the public market at $3.695M this year and has gradually trimmed down to $2.999M. It's still looking to make some kind of connection.

So there you have it. The Manhattan Beach real estate market is slowing – if you are talking about properties priced at or above $3M.

Indeed, these lingering listings comprise one-third of the reported inventory. Since these have more narrow-targeted appeal to specific buyers at the high end, they actually make inventory levels citywide seem all the more depressingly tight.

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