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    Insider Tips: South Bay Insights from a Local Professional

    October 20, 2023

    By: Richard Haynes

    My South Bay residential real estate blog is approaching its eighth year as a full-time weekly publishing.

    Every so often, I go through the 300+ past posts for ideas or submarkets that have not been covered in a long time. After doing so this week, I found an out-of-the-box post that I wrote about five years ago offering helpful South Bay specific tips.

    Our clients get tips like these and beyond when working with us, but it is nice to also share with readers who often become clients.

    So, in the spirit of the old blog post along with sharing free real estate information, I am writing a “Round Two” post to help you sharpen your South Bay home market knowledge.

    For reference, this is the old post written nearly five years ago if you missed it: “South Bay Real Estate – Little Know Tips and Beyond

    Without further ado, let’s dive into these South Bay real estate tips!

    Manhattan Beach

    The greatest impact on the city has been the state and Coastal Commission’s goal of preserving housing units near the beach. In the past, buyers could purchase old Sand Section triplexes and tear them down to build a new single-family home.

    That is no longer possible due to the state/coastal laws now requiring all owners to rebuild the same (or more) units that are torn down. This is at-odds with the city code rarely allowing for more than two units due to parking restrictions. Be sure you hire the right local team to advise you on building codes in the city and how state and other government entities will affect your property as well.

    Palos Verdes Estates

    New buyers in this city need to know that there are strict building standards on the hill.

    Do you want to replace your roof with affordable composition shingles? Not permitted. Do you want to replace your old windows with Milgard vinyl? Not permitted.

    What about painting your home with a different color? You better get it approved ahead of time.

    Building codes and Art Jury standards affect nearly everything in this town for better or worse, so please visit the Palos Verdes Homeowners Association before you do anything to your home!

    Redondo Beach

    This is a massive city with a diverse housing stock that appeals to all sorts of people across the economic spectrum. While no place is perfect, I really do love how Redondo is planned out here in the South Bay.

    Be forewarned, however, as there are pockets with “Redondo Beach P.O.’s” which mean the properties have Redondo Beach addresses, but they are technically not in the city. This can affect value, public school boundaries, and other items to the unsuspecting purchaser.

    Areas include pockets of Hollywood Riviera and El Nido, where the home may have a Redondo Beach address, but is actually located in the city of Torrance.

    Rolling Hills Estates

    Peacocks! That is right, peacocks.

    The Palos Verdes Peninsula is known for its peacocks thanks to the birds being acquired and maintained at the Vanderlip Estate, and later introduced to the peninsula in the early 1960s.

    I do want to emphasize that Rolling Hills Estates has areas that have no peacocks and other areas that do – and are protected. While many clients laugh at first, it is no laughing matter as they can be quite loud.

    Some residents love them; some residents hate them. It is imperative that you know how these birds might affect your real estate values and ensure that you enjoy living side-by-side with these large birds.

    Rancho Palos Verdes

    This is one of the largest cities on the hill and there are items one must make themselves aware of here. I will share two tips…

    • There are some areas that are still rural with no public sewers to the properties. Be sure you understand the property fully and if the home runs on a septic system, that it must be maintained.
    • While building codes here are more lenient than other areas of the hill, the Miraleste pocket is subject to the Art Jury run from Palos Verdes Estates. That’s right, this small area is subject to the Palos Verdes Homeowners Association that nearly all Palos Verdes Estates homes are subject to when it comes to building codes. Crazy, right?

    There is so much to know here in Rancho Palos Verdes, so it is vital for you to do your homework, and/or work with local professionals who can advise you properly when purchasing.

    Hermosa Beach

    The same goes for Hermosa Beach as I wrote above in the Manhattan Beach section!

    One must be careful when it comes to local codes versus state/coastal commission codes. Oftentimes, they conflict with one another, and the old ways of buying, demo’ing, and rebuilding are completely different. This especially holds true in the Sand Section.

    Please re-read the above Manhattan Beach section as this is a big deal and applies directly to this beach city as well.

    Rolling Hills

    And just like that, here is another city on the hill with restrictive buildings codes.

    A big highlight for Rolling Hills is that homes are required to be one-level (on-grade) and painted white. It is obviously not that simple, but please do your research and hire a professional! I cannot stress that enough!

    El Segundo

    I commented on this in my post five years ago, and rather than share something new or different, it is important to restate my comments from my last post five years ago.

    “For buyers new to the area, you will want to study up on the industrial properties bordering this city. To the west, the county Hyperion Water Treatment plant; to the south, the Chevron Refinery; to the east, aerospace industrial manufacturing; and to the north, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).”

    Obviously, this is vital and the most important detail for the city of El Segundo if you are not aware.


    This is one of the largest cities in the South Bay. As a result, the intricacies here are vast and from submarket-to-submarket to neighborhood pocket-to-pocket.

    I will highlight one tip in Torrance, which is an area in South Torrance known as the “Soils Area.” Of course, this is the unscientific nickname for the area, but in short, it is for an area known for its Expansive Soils and its affect on these surrounding homes.

    Decades ago, when this pocket was developed, a swampland/lake was drained for development. At the time, proper soils engineering was not developed to properly compact and drain the soil. As a result, the neighborhood’s soil expands and contracts with hot/cold temperature and rainy/dry seasons.

    Owners must be aware of this and understand that drainage is essential. Further, homeowners must constantly check on their foundations, hardscapes, and fencing for movement. Active oversight and maintenance here is an absolute must.

    New Law on Security Deposits

    There is a new law affecting property owners which was just signed into law. It applies to owners in the South Bay and throughout the entire state.

    Beginning July 1, 2024, all residential rental units will have their security deposits limited to one month’s rent.

    This is a sharp drop from the previous law that limited security deposits to two months rent for unfurnished rentals and three months rent for furnished rentals.

    The one exception is for small property owners who own a maximum of two rental properties totaling four units, however, it does not apply if the tenant is in the military or if title to the property is held by a corporation or real estate investment trust.

    Final Wrap-Up

    There you have it – my local South Bay real estate tips!

    If you missed my original article from five years ago, I hope you enjoyed this new insight for the first time. And, for our longtime readers, I hope you got even more value from this second iteration.

    We have so much more to share with clients that work with us in every city here in the South Bay. I welcome the opportunity to work with you in the future and be your go-to resource for all things real estate.

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