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    South Bay Home Sales with that “Je Ne Sais Quoi”

    June 30, 2023

    By: Richard Haynes

    The of the silliest decision I made in my early school years was to study the French language in high school over the practicality of learning Spanish as resident in southern California.

    The usefulness of Spanish in life and my career cannot be understated as a huge, missed opportunity.

    From communication to Spanish speakers around town and in the real estate realm, vacations south of the border, and just the pure enjoyment of communicating in another language in an area where Spanish is the dominant second language–I regret missing out on on leaning such a beautiful language. (French is beautiful too.)

    Unfortunately, due to the lack of French speaker in Los Angeles county, my French chops are long gone. It did, however, help me in a few small cases in life.

    I used my French language skills in 2007 at 22-years-old, during a Europe trip before starting my job as a residential loan officer (little did I know the massive economic impacts coming that year during the Great Recession), as well as a stop in Paris at 18-years-old where asking for directions, before Google Maps/Translate, came in huge.

    And the other case, today, it will aid me in the topic of this blog post. Ha!

    Real Estate with that “Je Ne Sais Quoi”

    Most of you have likely heard the term “je ne sais quoi,” but its literal meaning for those not aware is “I don’t know what.”

    The idiom as defined in Merriam-Webster dictionary is “something (such as an appealing quality) that cannot be adequately described or expressed.”

    According to, an example used in a sentence: “Ms. McMane’s English class isn’t’ like any other class I have taken–it has a certain je ne sais quoi.”

    I prefer to use je ne sais quoi as an apt description for special home or properties here in the South Bay.

    Oftentimes, our market is driven by square footage, comparable sales, and numbers.

    Every once and awhile, you will see a home sale that blows other sales out of the water. That is likely a property with a je ne sais quoi quality (or qualities) that make it desired over others and sell for more.

    This week, I am going to explore some recent sales with that je ne sais quoi quality and demonstrate how they sell higher, faster, and more often to all-cash buyers.

    Redondo Beach “Je Ne Sais Quoi”

    The first example comes from South Redondo Beach on the coveted “Avenues” west of Pacific Coast Highway. Take a look at this special home and property:

    206 Avenue B

    • 4-beds, 4-baths, 2,526 sq. ft., 7,811 sq. ft. lot
    • Closed: $3,510,000 (June 2023)

    While this home is undersized, its adorable curb appeal and fabulous floor plan due to wider lot certainly give off the “je ne sais quoi” vibes:

    230 Avenue A

    • 6-beds, 6-baths, 3,500 sq. ft., 6,023 sq. ft. lot
    • Closed: $3,400,000 (July 2022)

    The closest comparable is this newer modern farmhouse (purchased by my client, that I developed about a decade ago) that is 1,000 sq. ft. larger with a detached office/bathroom space. In theory, this should have commanded much more for the size and age of the home.

    But as you can see, square footage got thrown out the door for the 30% bump in lot size and for the old charm. The smaller home sold for over asking to a cash buyer ABOVE a comp much larger.

    It had that “je ne sais quoi.”

    Hermosa Beach “Je Ne Sais Quoi”

    Up next is a Hermosa Valley sale about as unique as we will ever see:

    522 24th Place

    • 5-beds, 8-baths, 7,200 sq. ft., 12,254 sq. ft. (double-lot)
    • Closed: $14,500,000 (April 2023)
    • Original: $15,995,000

    This property is the rarest of the rare – two contiguous lots, street to street. Not only did the owner expertly create an amazing property with home, pool, outdoor living and sport court to name a few, its finishes and attention to detail is unparalleled.

    You have to read the description to understand the cornucopia of amenities (100-year-old olive tree) and see photos to enjoy the over-the-top custom detailing of this spectacular home.

    That “je ne sais quoi” is present over and over again. The listing closed at a discount, but quickly to an all-cash buyer which does not happen often at a massive price of this natural for the South Bay.

    There are no views of the ocean, yet it sold for $14.5 million. Let’s look at a Strand property as a comparable:

    2806 The Strand

    • 6-beds, 8-baths, 6,857 sq. ft.
    • Closed: $15,150,000 (May 2023)

    This Strand sale was on the market for an eternity (well over three years and then some). It is close to the same size as our subject and on the Strand with unobstructed ocean views.

    And it could only muster $650,000 more than a Hermosa Valley property and no Pacific Ocean views.

    It is a testament to the “I don’t know what” factor that this sale had.

    Years of planning, painstaking attention to detail, and every custom detail/amenity one could dream of from an almost brand-new property.

    Palos Verdes Estates “Je Ne Sais Quoi”

    Up next is all about the street and it is the most coveted street in Valmonte–Via Palomino. Take a look:

    3817 Via Palomino

    • 3-beds, 2-baths, 2,295 sq. ft., 9,345 sq. ft. lot
    • Closed: $2,550,000 (June 2023)

    While this older ranch home with midcentury interior vibes fell out of escrow after a quick deal, it still managed to come back to the MLS and sell over asking.

    It clearly needed work and was smaller than a larger 4-bedroom option in better condition on Via Pinzon:

    4448 Via Pinzon

    • 4-beds, 2-baths, 2,684 sq. ft., 13,069 sq. ft. lot
    • Closed: $2,299,000 (June 2023)

    The Pinzon listing offered a ton of value and sold for $100k under asking price. About a quarter of a million dollars less than our Palomino subject.

    All this stated above, if you have ever driven on Via Palomino, it has got that “je ne sais quoi” over other Valmonte streets. And that factor alone caused our subject home to sell higher while having less desirable amenities in every other facet compared to the Pinzon example.

    An excellent case study on how streets can be a huge deal!

    Manhattan Beach “Je Ne Sais Quoi”

    And lastly, we cannot forget Manhattan Beach. This example takes us to the flat walkstreets south of the pier:

    337 7th Street

    • 4-beds, 5-baths, 4,500 sq. ft., built in 2013
    • Closed: $8,095,000 (May 2023)

    Another timeless custom build and sale by the same builder as our $14.5M Hermosa Example (Matt Morris) which set an MLS record as a 10-year-old home.

    The custom details here are on point and have proven their value over the past decade as it sold over asking in another efficient sale. It truly exemplifies that “je ne sais quoi” feeling with results in a higher price.

    Pair that with a comp in the same month:

    413 5th Street

    • 5-beds, 7-baths, 4,200 sq. ft., built in 2023
    • Closed: $7,500,000 (May 2023)

    This brand-new construction build, one would think should sell higher. It did not. Need I say more?

    Final Thoughts

    The moral of the story here is that residential real estate is far more than square footage, comparable sales, and other numerical measures of value.

    That “je ne sais quoi” feeling as you walk into a home or drive down the street can truly drive record sales or outlier pricing that exceed typical valuations in our local home market.

    In the South Bay, our residential markets possess those special properties and I hope the above examples can help you understand why a certain home can outperform or what you should look for in your future home to enjoy fabulous resale value down the road.

    We are taking next week off from the blog due to the holiday. Wishing everyone a happy Fourth of July!

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