Sunday, January 20, 2008

A New Price Per Square Foot Record!

The only reasonable reaction to today’s first property is: WTF?

This seller is asking $4.5 million in Alamitos Beach. Now, the property is brand spanking new from the ground up and is right on the sand, which is rare and quite impressive. There is absolutely no doubt the location of this house justifies a hefty price premium.

But $1,406 per square foot?!

This property was purchased exactly three years ago for $930,000. My first thought was, Wow, to demand that kind of appreciation the builder must be installing 24 karat gold toilets, diamond roof shingles, and throwing in 10 years of butler service. However, according to the description that’s not the case. This seller, with no pictures of the interior, believes the eight pictures of sand is enough to reel you in. That must be some awfully special sand.

Address: 1724 Bluff Pl, 90802
Smoking The Good Stuff Price: $4,500,000
Size: 4 beds, 4 baths, 3200 sq. ft. (built in 2007)
$/Sq. Ft.: $1,406
Purchase price: $930,000
Purchase date: 1/0/2005
MLS#: P606179
On Redfin: 93 days
Description: This is an incredible opportunity to live in Paradise, on the Sand, Beachfront w/ 180 degree unobstructed Panoramic Ocean views of: The Belmont Pier, Catalina Is, The Queen Mary. This ultra-exclusive Custom Home will be an uncompromised Tuscan style, Elegant, Spacious, Exquisite & Unique. Builder will Customize it now to include your every wish. Estimated time of completion March 2008.Features include: Oceanfront decks, Patios, Roof Deck, Custom Kitchen, Formal Dining/Living room, Family room, 3 Fireplaces,

And…AND? They left us hanging at the end! What else? Such a cliff hanger. They were finally going to reveal the justification for their stratospheric asking price, and were tragically cut off. Now we’ll never know.

P.S. The Title Case is so annoying.

A question: if the builder is planning to customize to the future buyer’s “every wish,” does that mean they have stopped construction until they find said buyer? After all, if they complete construction in March and eventually find a buyer who wants the place customized to his every desire in April, wouldn’t they have to tear things out to do it?

The dictionary defines custom as, “Made specially for individual customers.”

I understand the appeal of the word “custom” in a sales situation, but if there is no customer to customize for, then according to whom is this custom? Customized to the builder’s preferences I guess. I hope he has taste. My point is, without a customer, I’m not quite sure you can call a nearly-completed house a “Custom Home.”

I’m not even going to crunch the numbers because a quick look at nearby properties on the sand reveals just how insanely overpriced this place is. By the way, this property just missed being the highest priced listing in Long Beach (two properties in Belmont Shore beat them to it). Maybe next time!

Instead of showing you the amazing properties you can get in Orange County or LA for this kind of money, I’m going to compare and contrast this property with other Long Beach listings.

Address: 27 65th Place, 90803
Asking Price: $2,195,000
$Size: 4 beds, 3.5 baths, 4,000 sq. ft. (built in 2007)
$/Sq. Ft.: $549
Purchase price: N/A
Purchase date: N/A
MLS#: P612093
On Redfin: 50 days
Description: Brand New Custom Mediterrean-Style Home. 3 Story- 4 Bedroom 3.5 Baths, approx. 4000 sqft. (n. t. ) with beautiful panoramic ocean views from master suite. Some of the features include-elevator, family room w/ wet bar, oversized double garage, barbecue deck, two balconies, 10' island kitchen w/ viking appliances, granite counters, walk in pantry, wine cooler, master suite w/ views, fireplace, jacuzzi style tub, seperate shower and large walk in closet. So much more!! Call Agent.

Mediterrean”? “Seperate”?

Could you imagine a realtor, not even professional enough to run spell check on their computer, demanding a 6% commission (for this place, we’re talking $131,700)? Not being a perfect speller is forgivable; failing to proofread a $2 million house listing is not.

Anyhow, this “Brand New Custom” property is in a very exclusive area on the peninsula and is bigger than Bluff Place, at 4,000 square feet. Man, that’s a big place. Plus, it's half the price!

And this one is actually completed so they can show you pictures of the interior. Pretty freaking impressive if you ask me. This is a really nice house, and at this price it actually seems competitive.

Oh, and thanks for the photo of the wires hanging out of the wall. Phew. Wasn’t sure if this $2 million house had cable.

Yes, yes, it’s not EXACTLY comparable to Bluff Place because it’s not ON the sand, but as you can see by the photos, a four year old could throw a softball from the balcony and hit it. Plus, they’re not exactly comparable because 65th Place has 800 MORE SQUARE FEET—the size of a decent studio apartment—than Bluff Place.

The more I think about it, 65th Place is a pretty good deal for the location.

I guess the question is: Are the “on the sand” bragging rights in Alamitos Beach enough to justify more than doubling the price of this larger Belmont Shore property?

Let’s assume that being on the beach, rather than being 30 feet from it, DOES justify a doubling of price per square foot. And within that context, let’s look at this peninsula property right on the sand:

Address: 6700 East Bay Shore Walk, 90803
Asking Price: $4,490,000
Size: 3 beds, 5 baths (really?), 5,657 sq. ft. (built in 1991)
$/Sq. Ft.: $794
Purchase price: N/A
Purchase date: N/A
MLS#: P610547
On Redfin: 63 days
Description: Gorgeous Bayside Peninsula, Tri-Level Home on the Sand with stunning Panoramic views, luxury living space provides 1 master suite, 2 junior suites, 5 plus baths, 3 car garage with ground floor elevator access. Entry level features approx. 1400 sq. ft. of finished multiple use space, ie additional bedrooms, mother in law space or office. Spacious rooms, Brazilian cherry wood flooring, dramatic entry and balconies are on each level. Perfect for gracious living and entertaining.

I pride myself on living “graciously,” so this place is perfect! By the way, can I get a ruling on the inclusion of "Naples" in these Belmont Shore listings?

So remember, being on the sand justifies a doubling of the price per square foot. Hmm…At “only” $794 per square foot, I guess this seller didn’t get the memo. Maybe sand on the bay side isn’t as valuable as sand on the beach side? Damn, I better get down to Alamitos Beach with some buckets. There’s gold in them bluffs!

At 5,657 square feet, this place is a monster! Now, this house is not brand new (17 years old) or “custom” like the Alamitos Beach property, but it’s nearly twice the size and is completely isolated from the negative aspects of downtown.

This, just like all real estate, comes down to location and personal preference. I could show you a 10,000 square foot estate sitting on 20 acres in Montana for the same price, but that doesn’t mean you’d buy it. Hence the phrase, “All real estate is local.”

So here are three local properties, each unique in their own ways.
  1. A brand new smaller one in Alamitos Beach--on the beach.

  2. A brand new larger one on the peninsula--spitting distance from the beach.

  3. And an older, MONSTROUS one on the peninsula--on bayside sand.

As a future Long Beach buyer, I want to know everything possible about the city, specifically the pros and cons of each 'hood. To that extent, it would be great if one of our many realtor readers explained the very different pricing mentalities of each of these properties, and if Alamitos Beach is more desirable than Belmont Shore/Naples in the eyes of most LB residents? That would be news to me..

$1,406 per square foot for 1724 Bluff is pure fantasy and possibly drug-fuelled, especially when compared to $794 psf for 6700 Bay Shore Walk and $549 psf for 27 65th Place. But am I missing something about the Bluff property? Or is someone just smoking the really good stuff in Alamitos Beach?

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