Saturday, July 3, 2010

This Week's Column & Links (July 3-4)

This week's edition of South Bay Confidential appeared in the "Home Guide" in Saturday's Daily Breeze (print edition), and is available below.

The home discussed this week is 815 Pearl in S. Redondo (click highlighted address for more pics & details via Redfin). 

It's a flip, but a professional flip – not like one of those quickie jobs you used to see on cable TV. 

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Here's the complete column as it appeared in the Daily Breeze:


A Pearl of a Flip in South Redondo

It blew me away to see one of those home-flipping remodeling shows on
a friend’s TV the other day.

What, they’re still making these shows? Three or four years after the
housing bubble burst?

The last time I had seen a “reality show” featuring a home flipper was over
a year ago, and even by then the genre had changed noticeably from the go-go
days when amateurs would remodel homes and garner big profits.

The person featured in the show I saw was a first-time flipper, a clueless
woman with ridiculous remodeling plans, delusional expectations for her
resale and just one asset: a mom who kept bailing her out.

Unfortunately, they never showed how the final product fared in the market,
though I’m guessing it would have made for a grim second episode.

It crossed my mind that the whole show could have been a put-on, with an
actress hired to impersonate a naive flipper, and all of the remodeling
costs underwritten by the cable network. Hey, if the show sells ads …

You don’t see those sorts of individual flippers out in the real world very
much these days. But the pros are still profiting here and there.

For a model of how they can do it, look at 815 Pearl in South Redondo Beach
(south of Torrance Boulevard).

Late last year, word got out that the tired, chopped-up house was going to
be available. It didn’t hit the open market, but investors got word. One
jumped, paying $680,000 for the house in November.

The home needed everything. The late-1940s original had been split up into
two units, but a single-family home would be more attractive on the open
market.

So the remodel at Pearl required a redesign of the interior, upstairs and
down. Walls were moved, floors and windows replaced. There would be major
updates to plumbing and electricity, plus, of course, a modern kitchen (with
stainless steel appliances, de rigueur) and upscale baths. They even moved
the garage entry from the street to a back alley to create more yard space.
(Sound easy? Try it.)

About eight months later, the final product is a bright, open home with the
distinct feel of new construction. The three bedroom/four bath home boasts
nearly 2,500 square feet on a newly landscaped corner lot. Each bedroom has
its own bathroom — a modern luxury you wouldn’t get in a quickie remodel
like you might catch on cable TV.

Meanwhile, one artifact of the old structure remains: off one side of the
house, you’ll find a small, low-ceilinged suite downstairs. Once a part of a
second unit, it could be great for storage, a kids’ clubhouse or your
teenagers’ band practice. You have to love quirks like this.

After all that work, the pro flipper has marked up the final product by more
than $500,000 to $1,199,000.

The challenging remodel cost something over $300,000, listing agent Tony
Puma told me. The work went through some unforeseeable problems and tasked
the patience, skill and time of the interim owner, but he got it done. One
of those cable flippers would have been buried or in foreclosure by now. The
pro flipper here stands to get out with an attractive return, depending on
how buyers respond.

We’ll check back with 815 Pearl as it progresses over the next few weeks or
months.

Meanwhile, 815 Pearl will be open from 1-4 p.m. today and from 12-3 p.m.
Sunday.

[UPDATE: The home sold for $1,000,000 in December 2010.]

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Dave Fratello is a Manhattan Beach resident who writes the
www.sbconfidential.com. and www.mbconfidential.com real estate blogs. He can
be reached at mbwatcher@gmail.com.

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