The Manhattan Beach Tree Section is always a topic of conversation in South Bay real estate. Not only is it in perhaps the most coveted city in the South Bay, but it offers a wide range of housing options west of Sepulveda.
In this sub-market you can find anything from fixer beach bungalows for well under $2 million to turnkey new construction homes around $3 million. Close to Sand Dune Park you can find larger lots over 5,000 square feet with new construction pushing into the $4 million’s. The highly desired Martyrs area can push more than $5 million offering big homes and views. The Tree Section even offers double lots like the sale below that made a deal in just over a month on market.
- 2104 Palm Avenue
- 5 bed, 6 bath, 4,511 sq. ft., 9,924 sq. ft. lot
- Asking/Pending: $7.499 million
With the wide range of home and lot size options, the location and unique offerings of every listing in this area have nuances that can change value by millions of dollars if you do not know what you are doing.
For the purposes of this blog we are going to focus mainly on lots between 4,100 and 4,800 square feet around Ardmore Avenue and Valley Drive. Lot sizes in these areas generally come in three sizes: 4,200, 4,400, or 4,800 square feet. It is much easier to compare these three lot sizes in this specific sub-market for obvious size and location similarities. The 5,000+ square foot lots to the west can be a topic for another blog post.
Interesting Data on the Tree Section
After looking at the recent Q1 2019 data, the Tree Section median price was down by 2.33 percent when compared to Q1 of 2018.
If you watched my IGTV post on the year-over-year data of 2018 vs. 2017 data, the Tree Section median price was down by about 1 percent.
And finally, if you take the rolling 12-month data from Q1 2019 compared to Q1 2018, the Tree Section is up 3.5 percent.
So what does this data tell us? Essentially, the Tree Section is running flat.
That said, in all three measurements above, sales were down about 10 to 20 percent.
Is that due to lack of inventory? Interest rates? The stock market? Buyer fatigue? Seller nerves? I cannot really comment, but it is safe to say that 2019 will be an important year for data to tell us where the Tree Section might be going.
Lot Sale & Lot Listings to Watch
Now, back to my main focus of this blog…4,100 to 4,800 square foot lots. First, I want to take a look at actual lot sales with tear-down homes.
To kick off 2019, we had an early lot sale that happened off-market.
- 1145 Pine Avenue
- 4,467 sq. ft. lot
- Sold: $1.608 million
This property would not normally be a gauge for the market because it is just a couple lots away from busy Manhattan Beach Boulevard and not in the heart of the Tree Section.
However, two additional 4,400 square foot lots hit the market in the same “just off Manhattan Beach Boulevard” location, in which I believe will be almost perfect comparables. Take a look at these two listing all within a four block radius of one another…
- 1148 Elm Avenue
- 4,477 sq. ft. lot
- Asking: $1.599 million
- 1148 N Poinsettia Avenue
- 4,470 sq. ft. lot
- Asking: $1.65 million
Both of these properties are just a couple lots off of Manhattan Beach Boulevard just like the Pine sale that went for $1.608 million.
If Elm sells lower than the Pine comp, and if Poinsettia sells higher than the Pine comp…then the Tree Section is continuing to demonstrate its flat pricing.
But what we want to watch are what they really sell for down the road. If they sell at a discount to their asking price, then that could be an indication that the slower sales mean buyers are looking for some price relief down the road (or that developers can’t pay more due to rising costs).
Anyway, these are very interesting listings to keep an eye on as they will be a good barometer for the market.
Existing Construction Sales & a Listing to Watch
Below are some early 2000s-built homes in almost extremely comparable locations to gauge the existing home market in the Trees.
Take a look at two existing sales that closed in early 2019 just north of Valley Drive…
- 3201 Pine Avenue
- 5 bed, 3.5 bath, 3,260 sq. ft., 4,640 sq. ft. lot, built in 2003
- Sold: $3.025 million
- 2805 Poinsettia Avenue
- 5 bed, 4 bath, 3,409 sq. ft., 4,641 sq. ft. lot, built in 2002
- Sold: $3.05 million
Both of these sales were just north of Valley Drive and offered well-built, early 2000s construction homes.
Now look at a current listing just north of Valley Drive with similar specs…
- 2805 Palm Avenue
- 5 bed, 4 bath, 3,277 sq. ft., 4,643 sq. ft. lot, built in 2006
- Asking: $3.099 million
Since we are in the spring selling season, will this property fetch its premium asking price compared to the other two sales? Or, will it fall in line with that last sales and continue the trend of flat prices in the Tree Section?
And just like I mentioned with the lots above, if this property does sell below the two comps, this could be the signal that slowing sales in the Tree Section could be starting to affect prices to the downside.
New Construction Sales & Waiting for Listings
The new construction market within the parameters of this blog is a bit tricky. There are plenty of new construction sales, but last year they seemed to be in one area of this sub-market…and this year, they are now in a different area within this sub-market.
North of Valley Drive, closer to Rosecrans Avenue and the Belamar Hotel, are the only really good apples to apples comparable sales. Let’s take a look…
- 3309 Pine Avenue
- 5 bed, 6 bath, 3,247 sq. ft., 4,641 sq. ft. lot
- Sold: $3.35 million
- 3604 Walnut Avenue
- 5 bed, 5 bath, 3,249 sq. ft., 4,645 sq. ft. lot
- Sold: $2.815 million
- 3401 Maple Avenue
- 5 bed, 4 bath, 3,237 sq. ft., 4,646 sq. ft. lot
- Sold: $2.8275 million
- 3513 Elm Avenue
- 5 bed, 5 bath, 3,246 sq. ft., 4,642 sq. ft. lot
- Sold: $3.1015 million
These sales are all very similarly located, but as you can see the 2019 sales are significantly lower, even though they are essentially the same new construction product-type. (This is not fair to assume until you read about the additional comps below.)
Below is where the comps get tricky due to location and lack of sales (or inventory) this year. However, it will help show where the market stands in this pocket as of 2018.
- 1501 Elm Avenue
- 4 bed, 5 bath, 3,160 sq. ft., 4,201 sq. ft. lot
- Sold: $3.125 million
- 2101 Elm Avenue
- 5 bed, 5 bath, 3,116 sq. ft., 4,482 sq. ft. lot
- Sold: $3.375 million
- 1820 Pine Avenue
- 5 bed, 6 bath, 3,134 sq. ft., 4,480 sq. ft. lot
- Sold: $3.375 million
- 1604 Pine Avenue
- 5 bed, 5 bath, 3,585 sq. ft., 4,200 sq. ft. lot
- Sold: $3.475 million (higher price due to extra 300 sq. ft. basement)
These sales were significantly higher and in “better” locations, which potentially affected the north of Valley Drive Pine sale in 2018 higher. In addition, there have been no sales in this more desirable area, except for two listings on Oak Avenue, which runs parallel to busy Sepulveda (this street tends to be its own market).
Let’s look at the only sales we have south of Ardmore Avenue in 2019 on Oak Avenue…
Oak Avenue 2019 Sales
- 1716 Oak Avenue
- 5 bed, 6 bath, 3,861 sq. ft., 4,480 sq. ft. lot, basement
- Sold: $3.175 million
- 1813 Oak Avenue
- 5 bed, 5 bath, 3,132 sq. ft., 4,486 sq. ft. lot
- Asking/Pending: $2.995 million
These Oak sales give us some clues when compared to the last year sales above. Since Oak is the least desirable street in this area south of Ardmore, it should sell at a discount. The Oak sale with a basement set a record price for Oak Avenue and seemed to have the right discount to the Pine basement sale.
The pending 1813 Oak Avenue sale is on the better side of Oak and if it closes in the $2.9 million range, it could be argued that it is the proper discount to the lower priced (south of Ardmore) Elm sales from last year.
As of now, until another Elm, Pine, or Walnut new construction comes to market, we will have to wait and see if it can match the $3.3 million sales of 2018. And, if a coming new construction listing does slip and sell lower, that could be an indicator that the Tree Section could be due for a pull back. Only time will tell!
Some people will yell at me for leaving out the sale at 2009 Pine Avenue that sold for $4 million in late December. This was essentially the same size, basement, etc. as the 2018 1604 Pine sale above…but got a $525,000 premium. This was a crazy outlier and a questionable purchase in my mind, so that is why I did not include it!
I hope this blog helped shed light on a partial area of the Tree Section and its product-types (lots, existing, and new construction).
In a nutshell it looks like lot listings and existing home listings are flat…and do have some light risk of selling lower than past comps.
New construction looks flat to slightly down, but could ultimately be saved with one solid Elm, Pine, or Walnut sale if a developer brings one out and sells it at a solid price.
The examples above seem to show that this sub-market is treading water but potentially getting a little tired. That could all change in an instant with one good sale to send the market going higher.
Real estate and the Tree Section can change in a moment’s notice. I’ll continue to watch it and report back!