Manhattan Beach CA Real Estate Market Trends

Months of Unsold Inventory
For all the talk about low inventory, there appears to be more homes available in Manhattan Beach than in the other Beach Cities. Buyer's frustrations may be more centered on the price points (high) or condition (either amazing or horrible with little in between).

Currently there are 53 active listings with 46 properties in escrow (MLS status either "backup" or "pending"). So far this year there have been 63 sales with 23 of those being logged in March and a rather paltry 21 in January and 19 in February. Seasonal softness most likely.

While there's no doubt that per the usual standard measurement - less than 90 days of inventory on hand, Manhattan Beach remains a "seller's market".  How much so depends in large part on whether you analyze the ratio of existing sales compared to sold properties or in escrow properties.

Absorption Rate
If we are looking at sold sales and for two months we averaged 20, then 53 appears to be 2 months plus of inventory which is very healthy compared to other local cities.

On the other hand if we are considering the 46 in escrow plus what we are seeing happening so far in March, a more reasonable measurement might be that we have about a month and a half of available inventory currently.

To digress a second, one of my favorite statements is that if you were doing a study on the relationship between tall people and income and only looked at NBA players your logical conclusion would be that you have to be tall to make any money. In other words, data, analysis, statistics is the map and not the territory in many instances.

In the case of inventory, what is going on now very broadly is that desirable properties that are priced right are selling quickly with multiple offers while others, for whatever reason, sit on the market and linger distorting the true data of availability.

Real Estate Agents also like to talk about "absorption rate". If you look at the two charts above you'll see what we always see - which is no surprise. As the inventory of unsold homes is going up, the absorption rate goes down which it almost has to to as a matter of math.

Another popular Real Estate metric is the "Days on Market". Interesting how in the graph below we go from high low month to month. Hmnn.


Every buyer, well for that matter sellers too should be aware that this days on market (DOM) measurement is one of the least trustworthy right now. What has happened is that the MLS stops the meter from counting when a listing is in "pending" but continues to count (and display on the public portal websites) when a listing is in "backup".

This has also created havoc with the public because these in escrow backup listing continue to show as available properties on the major portals such as Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and the brokerage run websites such as Redfin etc. Some agents like this because they believe they will continue to get calls while other agents want to show they sell their listings quickly. Doesn't really help the consumer either way.

And what would a market trend update be without the proverbial "price per square foot" calculation. Way back when I was new in the business, I once had an agent on the other side of a deal tell me "price per square foot doesn't matter". At the time I thought that was really dumb. Now, not so much.

Here's why.

The land is ALWAYS worth more than what's on it. So if you have a 900 sq ft knockdown in the Tree Section, with some outrageous sq ft on the house, what is it really worth? Probably the dirt plus a latte at Starbucks lol.

By definition every piece of real estate is different and unique. Where price per square foot makes some sense is in master planned communities or tracts with a limited number of floor plans and lot sizes. (Or for townhomes and condos.)

So finally, the only chart I really care about: the comparison of a) what is for sale, b) what has sold, c) what went into escrow (pended), d) what has been newly listed.

As a buyer what you want to see is that there are more listings available for sale than have sold, more new listings than pendings. As a seller, of course the opposite.


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