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Mid-Year Dirt

Posted by John Hathorn on July 11, 2019
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Mid Year Santa Monica Dirt Real Estate BlogThe first half of the years seems like it flew by and with it behind us, its interesting to look back and see what happened, or maybe more appropriately, ask, “What didn’t happen?”.

The Santa Monica real estate market is mixed. Very mixed. Some houses are selling quickly and others not at all. (More on that later).

So, what didn’t happen? Interest rates did not go up. Well, actually they did go up, but they have gone back down. 

Prices did not go up. In fact, tear-downs are being priced lower than the past few years.

The numbers of closings did not go up.

The lease market did not gain any ground.

What did happen? Last year, the City, bowing to neighborhood groups’ concerns, once again reduced the allowable size for construction in the R1 zone, while at the same time increased concern regarding historic preservation. This year, those decisions are starting to show the effects. Those decisions combined with an overall less active Westside real estate market make it seem like someone put the brakes on rising property values.

If you are a Buyer, buying for the short-term, this may be good news but if you plan to stay long-term or might be selling anytime soon, this may be disheartening.

Last year at this time there had been 12 closed sales in the north of Wilshire single family home neighborhood. This year, 13 – a negligible difference in my view.

In the North of Montana area there have been 33 closed sales year to date but there were 37, by this time, in 2018. By comparison, in 2017 there were 48 closed sales by mid-year.

Some will say that the multi-year long seller’s market is the reason for the slowdown, but I can personally attest to the fact that several buyer clients of mine have reduced the price they are willing to pay for properties because of the issues that the City controls (not the market conditions). Those issues are house size and historical (hysterical?) concerns. These buyers would be willing to pay the higher prices that properties were fetching a year or two ago if the properties could be developed in the same ways they were previously entitled. Makes sense, right? Which would you pay more for; a property with more development restrictions or less restrictions?

I get it, the older smaller homes are charming, and the one-story versions keep things sunny and private. What’s not to like? Well, people live differently today than they did 50+ years ago. Many work from home and like to have office space in their home that is away from the hubbub of other family members. Some like to stream movies and watch with groups of family and friends, usually in a nice sized family room or theater that opens to the kitchen and the backyard. Some like to drive SUVs or have more than 2 cars or cars that are larger than the cars and garages that were build 50+ years ago. As a real estate professional, I assure you that most of the people looking to buy homes on the Westside want homes bigger and better than the older (historic?) smaller (down-zoned) homes afford.

The down zoning might have one unintended consequence; The fact that one must build smaller today than they did a year ago might mean that properties like my client’s brand-new, solar powered home at 734 18th Street are more valuable than before, as they cannot be replicated under the current code.


Off Market Offerings;

1125 Harvard Street is a traditional style Thomas James new construction with 5 bedroom 6 bathroom that will be listed at $4,695,000

1309 Pine Street is a contemporary architectural new construction. It has 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms and approximately 4,600 square feet of living space on an enormous 8,213 square foot lot. Give me a call for the price. 

Santa Monica Modern This one is deep below the radar but I can tell you it has 5 bedrooms 6.5 bathrooms and approximately 4,000 Square feet of living space on a 9,600 Square foot lot with a pool.

101 Foxtail Drive  features a big view, a wine room, bar, sauna pool and a gym. It has 4 bedrooms and 6.5 bathrooms.


I know of several other properties that are not on the market yet (not in the MLS), that might be right for you or someone you know. Please either call, text or email me for details.

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