Looking at the residential real estate sales in Manhattan Beach for 2018, we started to see the effects of high prices and rising mortgage rates on median sale prices.
For single family homes that had jumped 29% from 2014 (median $1,912,500) to 2017 (median $2,473,250), 2018 was a year of flat prices with the median barely budging at $2,475,000 and sales off 11% from the previous year.
The much smaller (and less expensive) townhome/condo market did better with an almost 15% gain in the median sale price for 2018 ($1,907,500) versus the median sale price in 2017 ($1,662,000).
Nonetheless, in 2018, we saw some stunning sales - and some equally stunning 'fails'. Here's our take on the winners in both groups.
Biggest Winner - Single family home category: 1204 The Strand
This stunning oceanfront home, designed by KAA Design Group, is situated close to downtown and offers not only sweeping ocean views but a dead-on view of the Manhattan Beach pier to boot.
The home was priced accordingly at $17.4 million. For a 5,372 sqft home, this translates to a price/sqft of $3,239, making 1204 The Strand the 4th most expensive home ever sold in Manhattan Beach based on that metric.
Yet the home lasted on the market a total of just 9 days before the sellers had a full-price offer in hand. The $17.4 million sale price was also the 2018 high water mark for home sale prices not just in Manhattan Beach but throughout the South Bay.
BIGGEST WINNER RUNNER UP: 3120 THE STRAND
You're probably thinking, "How does this Strand home sale qualify as a winner if the seller has been trying since May, 2015 - when the home was listed for $16 million - to sell the home only to finally conclude a sale this past August at a price of $11,500,000?"
Good question, especially given the $4,500,000 in price cuts (28% total) and over three years of marketing it took to finally unload 3120 The Strand.
However, this may well have been the case of an overpriced home that finally found the market. We toured the home and feel confident in saying the seller still came out way ahead. Just look at the sale price/square foot - $2,738, second highest in Manhattan Beach last year for all single family homes over 2,000 sqft in size. Granted, the main attraction of 3120 The Strand was the location but the buyer paid well above land value in our opinion.
As for the home itself, it was dated - built in '91 with heavy use of saltillo tiles for interior rooms, blue tiles in the master bath, narrow hallways, etc. Plus, the house was clearly used with chipped tile and worn wood floors throughout. Someone obviously purchased this home as an $11.5 million project.
So while the buyers got a diamond in the rough in a great Strand corner location, the sellers were the big winners in our view.
Biggest Winner & Loser - Same Site: 2620 Alma Avenue
Take a look at the 100-year old home of George Peck, one of Manhattan Beach's founding fathers. The 5-bedroom, 2400 sqft home, once situated on an oversized lot at the corner of 27th and Alma in the Sand section, no longer exists, having been sold to noted local developer Matt Morris in 2014 who proceeded to develop it as a 4-townhome site.
Matt paid $4.7 million for the large double lot and sold all four brand new 4-bedroom ocean-view townhomes last year for a total of $18,099,000. Three of the 4 units were listed on the MLS - 400 27th St, 404 27th St (the view from the 2nd story deck is pictured below) and 2617 Vista Drive. The 4th unit, 2616 Alma Avenue, sold off-market.
So Matt was the winner (along with his investors) but who was the loser? The Manhattan Beach Cultural Heritage Conservancy that lobbied the City Council to preserve the structure that Peck built for $500 back in 1922. Unfortunately, the only way to preserve it was to move it and, even if a suitable site could have been agreed upon, the cost of moving this large a structure was $108,000.
Ultimately, the City Council voted not to pursue preservation. As a result, today all we have are the photographic memories of George Peck's summer home.
Biggest Loser - Single Family Home Category: 317 17th Street
We can't link this property's address to our site's MLS Sold listings because this home didn't sell last year - or the year before. Which is a shame because the home itself has a lot to recommend it.
At 11,917 sqft, it is one of the three largest homes in Manhattan Beach and includes 6 bedrooms and 10 baths on 2½ walkstreet lots. It's also a newer home (built in 2014) and sports a superior pedigree, designed by Dave Watson and meticulously constructed by Steve Larkin.
Plus the list of amenities seems to go on forever - theater, saltwater pool with waterfall features and cabana, walk-in wine cellar with dry bar, indoor virtual golf course/driving range, his and her offices plus children’s study/playroom, gym, multiple ocean view decks and balconies, four-stop elevator, heated floors in most bathrooms, humidors on all four levels, technology/server room with Savant smart home automation center, solar power - a virtual wish list of everything you'd want to see in a luxury home.
So what's the problem?
Maybe it all boils down to a simple calculation - if you're going to spend almost $20 million (the original list price) or $16,995,000 (the reduced list price) on a luxury home at the beach, you might opt for a home right on the beach rather than one that is separated from the sand and surf by several blocks and two major cross streets. And, after buying that Strand home, you might even have money left over as compared to 317 17th Street.
So 317 17th has now spent two years on the market with nary a bite. With the bull run in local home prices now starting to show its age, might the seller have possibly missed an opportunity (the listing is currently expired)?
Of course, as the seller, the consolation is you continue to live in a magnificent walkstreet home close to downtown with the slight inconvenience of the occasional showing should you decide to give the market another try in 2019.
Third year's a charm?