Magazines, Websites Sources for Mid Century Modern Design

Mid Century Modern architecture and design aesthetics have been re-embraced by baby boomers whose childhoods were shaped by those times, as well as embraced by the next generation.

Growing global  appreciation of Modernism’s uncluttered clean lines, bold, forward thinking architecture fits well with today’s concern for environment and sustainable practices.

A host of national and international magazines and websites offer in-depth resources for Mid Century Modern homes, furnishings, accessories, and design resources.  We scoped out a few that really speak to the subject:

Modernism Magazine, a quarterly magazine about 20th century modernist design, ranges from the Wiener Werkstatte and the Bauhaus thinkers to Memphis and beyond covering Art Deco, mid-century pop and postmodern design. Continue reading “Magazines, Websites Sources for Mid Century Modern Design”

Movies Make Palm Springs The Place to Be & Places to Stay

The Palm Springs International ShortFest, June 19-25, once again draws film buffs, stars, directors, and filmmakers to Palm Springs during what is known as the “shoulder season.”

This means lower hotel rates and great restaurant deals are in effect, so it’s the perfect time to explore Palm Springs without the huge crowds and high costs.

It’s also a great time to submerge in the Modernism experience by staying at one of the Mid-Century Modern boutique hotels, taking a city tour of the many Desert Modern public buildings and neighborhoods, exploring on foot the treasures of the Uptown Design District, and dining in hip retro restaurants with an ultra-modern vibe. Continue reading “Movies Make Palm Springs The Place to Be & Places to Stay”

Famed Architect Barry Berkus (1925-2012) – At Modernism Week 2011

Mid-Century Modern in Palm Springs

During Modernism Week 2011, Park Imperial South on South Araby Drive in Palm Springs celebrated its 50th birthday and invited the public to tour its 31-unit condominium community.  Created in 1960 by one of the nation’s most noted residential architects, Barry Berkus, AIA, Park Imperial South’s remarkable Mid Century Modern design still thrives and remains virtually untouched.

Berkus guided the tour and presented his take on modernism’s mark on architecture in Palm Springs and across America.  A video archive of the design tour and Berkus’ discussion is posted here. Continue reading “Famed Architect Barry Berkus (1925-2012) – At Modernism Week 2011”

Have Home Prices Hit Bottom?

We can’t really know, but there may be a reason that if they go lower, they won’t stay there. The long-term inflation rate of U.S. housing is around 2.5%. Let’s look at the Case-Shiller Home Price Index for some high-tier markets. The graph below has the Index for three western U.S. cities, with an added line that shows the normal long term rate of housing price inflation of about 2.5%.

Long Term Apprecaion vs Case-Shiller

This long term “normal” growth rate shows that home prices should be about 30% higher now than in 2000. Prices in Vegas and Phoenix have dropped below this long term value, and there should be upward pressure based on this historical trend. Higher than average inflation is expected and will further increase this upward pressure.

L.A. may be a bit different, as it may have been still feeling the effects of the 1990’s California bubble and recession when the Index base of year 2000 was established. If so, this might have raised the base home values in 2000, made the peak lower and therefore today’s index lower, closer to Phoenix and L.A. If this is not the case, L.A. may still be above the normal inflation value, and vulnerable to further declines.

In the Palm Springs area, homes that have devalued from about 35 to 50% may have hit bottom, at least in the long view of things. They may stay there until economic and employment conditions improve.

Wayne Longman

Real Estate: Buy Low, Sell High

In the Palm Springs area, the only homes that are selling are at 30-50% discounts.  Many would-be home buyers seem to be holding back in fear (or hope) that prices will fall some more.  If you believe in Buy Low you should be wary of trying to buy at the bottom – that is very hard to do.  It’s better to get most of the benefit of the low, than to miss it altogether.  Median prices were actually lower last year than now.

It does look as if prices may fall again, but I may be wrong .  In the opinion of some, we saw prices rise last year due to various government stimulus programs, and they could rise again if private investment increases.  We have seen unemployment increase and that will increase the number of foreclosures.  The impact of new foreclosures should be minimal because we have seen the banks meter them onto the market about as fast as they are selling, which has kept prices stable.

Could a meaningful drop of 20% or more still happen?  If a Mid-Century Modern home was $500,000 at the peak, it is possibly worth around $300,000 now (a 40% drop).  I don’t believe it can go down to $200,000 (down 60%).  Could it go down 15% from $300,000 to $255,000?  It is possible, but a slight market improvement could keep the price steady or slightly increase it, as happened over the last year.  Meanwhile the buyer is still looking and we are getting closer to the time when prices will definitely increase.

Some sellers are waiting too.  If they need to sell, there isn’t much point in waiting for the return to high prices.  That won’t happen for many years.  They are likely better off selling now to start a new financial or housing base rather than dealing with an uncertain future.

For both Buyers and Sellers, there is a financial risk of doing nothing, and you may miss the chance of finding that perfect Kreisel Alexander or Walter S. White.

Wayne Longman

The West Coast’s Largest Design Event

West Coast’s Largest Design Show Celebrates the Best Modern Projects, Products and People.

If you can’t get enough Mid-Century Modern, do not miss Dwell On Design ( ), the West Coast’s largest design event, returning June 25-27 to the Los Angeles Convention Center.  Only a two-hour drive from Palm Springs.

Curated by the editors of Dwell Magazine, this three-day extravaganza features more than 200 brands on exhibition with design-forward exhibits, competitions, East and West side home tours, and over 80 presentations and panels by design industry  leaders and influencers. Continue reading “The West Coast’s Largest Design Event”

Home Prices – Will History Repeat Itself?

We see a lot of news about home prices, both good and bad.  Nobody can predict the future, but we might find clues about it in the past.  The Case-Shiller Home Price Index, captured the California home price collapse in 1990, as shown in the first chart – for high-tier Los Angeles homes.  Then the prices had increased by about a factor of two, just like our last bubble, as shown in the second chart.  The scale in the first chart has been expanded to show they were very similar bubbles, even to their relative size, shape, duration and the false recoveries in 1991 and 2007.  Maybe we can use the 1990’s experience to project our current recovery. 

If so, the blue bars show that it took seven years from the peak to just get to the point where prices began a true recovery.  Our price recovery may not start until 2013, and this is a worse economic situation than in the 1990’s. In between now and 2013 we may see still lower prices.  It is difficult to tell if the small peak we see today is a false recovery or the reaction to an overshoot in the drop, but from the last bubble it is not likely the beginning of recovery.  Again historically, that increase around 2013 will be at the rate of inflation, which in the long term is around 2.5% a year.  If so, this is relative price stability and isn’t bad news – volatility in home prices is the bad news because neither sellers or buyers know what to expect.  – Wayne Longman

Case-Shiller LA High Tier 1990 Bubble
Case-Shiller LA High Tier 1990 Bubble
LA Case-Shiller High Tier 2006 Bubble
LA Case-Shiller High Tier 2006 Bubble

Effect of Bank-Owned On Non-Bank-Owned Prices

Bank-owned properties (aka REO’s) are known to affect surrounding property prices.  This effect might be seen in past sale prices in the well-defined Palm Springs community of Vista Las Palmas.  This graph shows a decrease in the long term price trend of Non-REO homes at about the time the REO homes were sold.  The effect isn’t that great because REO’s are generally priced low, but close to the market.  There may even be early signs of price strengthening as they fade into the past.  As always though, prices are determined by Buyers.  – Wayne Longman


High End Home Prices Continue Decline in Palm Springs Area

High end home sales in the Palm Springs area have taken a big hit.  It’s hard to see trends when sales are combined with low end foreclosures, or when looking at a given price bracket.  If for example you look at homes that sold for over $1,000,000, your numbers are skewed by those homes that once sold there, but now sell for less.

The first graph below attempts to get around this by looking at a constant group of homes in four Valley cities (Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert and Indian Wells) that are all 4,000 square feet in size or larger.  To get rid of the “noise” of wide variation of sales prices in this range, each point on the graph represents the moving average sales price of the immediately previous 60 sales. In addition to the big average sales price drop, there are many fewer sales per month now than at the peak.


The second graph showing just the most recent 60 sales, doesn’t show any major change in the overall trend. In this graph the line doesn’t represent a moving average but just the overall trend.  Keep in mind these are what people are buying, and don’t reflect asking prices.  Those wanting to sell though should look at the prices that are selling.

Reecent Trend

I had expected to see a leveling off or even a small average price increase.

Sales Decline In Large Expensive Homes – A Symptom

A significant drop in the number of sales of large homes over $3,000,000 can be attributed to falling sales prices, fewer buyers, or both. There is no doubt prices have fallen at the high-end, so many have dropped out of this niche, but it also shows that high-end sellers should attempt to price below this no-man’s land.

Home Sales Over $3,000,000
Home Sales Over $3,000,000

Sale prices could drop more in any given development if they haven’t returned to circa-2003 levels that deflate prices back to their non-bubble growth rate. This has happened in several local high-end communities, so there are some good deals around, but not all.

Those holding out for a return to the top, may wait a long time. It took LA ten years to recover from the 1990’s housing decline. Housing appreciates at the inflation rate, around 2.5%, so it could take even longer than that. This applies to all price ranges. If you want to sell, price to market. Most buyers are then confident that they can buy safely.