You Can Have This New House If You Build It

By Dave Fratello | February 22nd, 2022

A lot sale in the Sand Section recently cut its price, and changed its overall pitch.

465 33rd Street Manhattan Beach CANow it kinda looks like a new, modern house is on offer for $3.299M.

But no.

At 465 33rd, let's be clear, you're only being offered an old house and a 1.5x lot, with approved plans for a new house.

If you want the new house, you have to build it and pay for it separately.

Until recently, this listing merely featured photos of the existing 1950s house and referred to plans for the new house. Then, the offering was clear.

Now, new photos have been added featuring renderings of the new house. On MBC as of Tuesday morning, the first 23 photos were renderings of this hot new house. This was how the listing came to us through what's known as the IDX feed of listings. (Same on one other IDX website we operate, and on the listing agent's IDX website. Through our MLS direct access, we see only the first 8 images are these renderings.)

465 33rd Street Manhattan Beach CAEventually, the current, old house is shown.

Also, the listing description has been updated to wax extensively about the glories of the new, 6,200 sqft. modern house.

It begins: "The completed architectural plans are ready to issue (RTI) permits as the plans have already been approved by the City of Manhattan Beach." Then, soon after: "Imagine yourself living in a brand new, approx. 6200 sq ft home, on a rare 1.5 lots (45x90), 4 blocks to the beach in the Manhattan Beach sand section. This home was designed with your family in mind." (Full text below.)

Much later, in the wall of text, you can find: "Currently, there is an existing, mid century modern 3 bdrm, 2 bath home on the property."

465 33rd Street Manhattan Beach CANowhere in the current description does the listing state clearly that it is only the old house and plans for sale.

One could get the impression that this is the steal of the century, just $3.3 million for a 6,200 sqft. new house by the water in Manhattan Beach.

In the past, we've gotten calls on listings like this. "Dave! Could this be true!? A brand new house for such a low price?"

465 33rd Street Manhattan Beach CAIf you're calling with that question, you know it's not true, right?

In the main MLS for SoCal, CRMLS, it's questionable whether a listing presented this way would be permitted. (Disclosure: Dave has served for several years now on the Rules Committee for CRMLS. We're persnickety.) Arguably, the renderings just don't belong if it's not a new home for sale. Lack of clarity worsens the picture.

However, this listing comes from a different, competing MLS, and we have no idea how the rules operate there.

Our concern, as ever, is consumer confusion, which could be prevented in this case with some clear language.

It wasn't always this way for 465 33rd. We printed excerpts of the prior listing description about 2 weeks ago in a new-listings post. Here's the excerpt of text from the description that we ran then:

Rare 1.5 lots on an awesome cul-de-sac street... Existing home is a mid-century modern with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, and lots of outdoor space for entertaining that makes a cute, but older, rental just as is. Included in the sale are city approved plans for an approx. 6200 square foot home OR design your own dream home. Get creative on this larger than average lot with lots of possibilities plenty of room to spread out with the possibility of indoor/outdoor space, a yard, maybe extra parking or a water feature? Locations like this, and lots this size do not come up very often. Lot is 45x90 (45 foot frontage).

That was pretty clear. "Included in the sale are city approved plans..." But we don't recall seeing any renderings or experiencing any confusion.

The new description, in full:

"The completed architectural plans are ready to issue (RTI) permits as the plans have already been approved by the City of Manhattan Beach. (1st level approx. 2050 sq ft. 2nd level approx. 2293 sq ft. 3rd level approx. 1866 sq ft. Plans are available to view for interested parties.) Imagine yourself living in a brand new, approx. 6200 sq ft home, on a rare 1.5 lots (45x90), 4 blocks to the beach in the Manhattan Beach sand section. This home was designed with your family in mind. 4 very spacious en suite bedrooms with an abundance of indoor/outdoor entertaining and deck space to enjoy the California lifestyle. The first level, incorporating open plan entertaining space, takes advantage of the low trafficked, cul-de-sac street and includes a 4th bedroom for a guest room, office, gym, etc. As you proceed to the 2nd level, find 3 more bedrooms on this Middle level including a Main bedroom suite offering a large walk-in closet, main bath, sitting room/den and another deck off this bedroom. The top level of this beautiful 3 story home does not disappoint. Here find spectacular living space a very spacious, open plan kitchen, walk-in pantry, dining, bar, and a large deck to relax and enjoy your morning coffee or the evening sunset. The completed architectural plans include an elevator and 3 car garage (approx.. 600 sq. ft.) Currently, there is an existing, mid century modern 3 bdrm, 2 bath home on the property. Large lots like this, in comparable premier locations, do not come available very often. Short stroll to MB Northend shops, restaurants, award winning Grandview Elementary School, Sand Dune Park, Bruce's Beach, and easy freeway access. Park your car and enjoy your new home in this convenient, beach close location."

Why the changes?

Surely, the seller hopes to attract a buyer by showing off what could be built on site with the current plans.

But why risk confusion, by deleting a clear reference to what is (and isn't) for sale?

Perhaps they think confusion is a plus. You get a few phone calls, you get a conversation going, maybe something comes out of it.

We liked it better the old way.

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UPDATE: By late Thurs., about 55 hours after this post went live, we noted on the listing agent's website a drastic change in the listing. Most of the language about the new home was removed. The first several photos were changed to those of the current house on site. There is a clearer reference to the fact that the offering is to include plans for a new house. The renderings remain. These changes have not yet fully proliferated to MBC, but we expect they will overnight.

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