One of the property types fairly unique to Redondo Beach is the “3 on a lot” townhome. When most buyers, especially those coming from out of the area, think of a townhome they picture endless rows of identical looking houses. Many buyers reach out to me looking for a single family home in the area, but unfortunately, can’t always afford single family homes in Redondo Beach. I often recommend that they consider a townhome as they’ll generally get nicer, newer, larger and better location for a lower price. Most of the time this idea is quickly rejected but once I show them the concept of a “two on a lot” or “three on a lot” they become far more interested. A great number of the lots in North Redondo are fairly large for the area at 50×150. These lots originally had some type of bungalow or duplex built in the 50s and many were long ago sold and knocked down. Due to zoning rules in Redondo Beach, what replaced them were most often townhomes.
A “3 on a lot” townhome is a building in which 3 units share the lot. These 3 on a lot townhomes are always connected, unlike some 2 on a lot situation, with shared walls between the front unit and middle, and back unit and middle. The most common details of the units are:
- Front Unit – usually has some type of front yard that, while technically often “common use” areas, they are generally used only by the front owner. The units often have square footage of 1700-1900, 3 bed, 2 1/2 bath, at least one balcony, attached garage and one shared wall (garage below and often living room above. Most often there are two bedrooms and 1 bath downstairs, with the master bedroom, living room and kitchen upstairs. These units are often the brightest but also front the street.
- Middle Unit – The middle unit is often the least expensive of the three units due to the multiple shared walls and no yard. Square footage is often between 1700-2000 square feet and either has the same configuration as above, or often times has 4 bedrooms with 2 downstairs, master upstairs and a very small 4th bedroom upstairs. Living room is often smaller in the middle unit.
- Rear Unit – Usually the most expensive as they almost always have some type of private yard in back. Configuration is often the same as the front unit, but usually some type of sliding doors/French doors from one or both of the downstairs bedrooms accessing the backyard.
One aspect that many buyers find difficult to accept is the fact that there is an HOA. Unlike large complexes with management companies, HOA board meetings etc., the HOA on a 3 on a lot can be very low key and sometimes not even active. As the 3 owners collectively own a portion of the land, the HOA cannot be dissolved but in many cases it is inactive. In general they are informal affairs with the minimal HOA fees (often around $175 a month) covering landscaping and shared insurance and each owner covering maintenance, and other items separately. As with any property not wholly owned there are possible challenges and frustrations as owners (just like neighbors) don’t always see eye to eye on fixes, repairs like termite work, roof fixes, etc. Overall the benefit of the townhouse concept is that the same price that may purchase a 1100 foot 2 or 3 bed 1 bath house in need of work, can purchase a 1800 foot 3 bedroom 3 bath townhome that’s far newer. Real estate purchases almost always involve compromises and priorities and depending on just what’s important to a buyer in Redondo Beach, a 3 on a lot townhome might be an ideal fit.