Wexler Weekend


Last night we went to Palm Springs to see the great Film “Journeyman Architect: The Life and Work of Donald Wexler” at Camelot Theatres. A 67-minute film produced by Design Onscreen followed by a brief Q&A with Wexler tribute journal author Patrick McGrew and architect Doug Hudson.


A clip from the documentary “Journeyman Architect: The Life and Work of Donald Wexler” released by Design OnScreen. The mission of Design Onscreen is to document and disseminate in some form of “film media” the work of significant designers and contemporary issues in design.


The Wexler Weekend House Tour is one of the best house tour values ever offered in Palm Springs. Highlights include Wexler tract homes in El Rancho Vista Estates, Wexler’s own Palm Springs home and Wexler-designed celebrity homes. The house tour will include 14 (yes 14!) houses ranging from tract homes to custom residences to spectacular celebrity homes. Architect Don Wexler’s original Palm Springs home is also included on the tour. The tour ends with stops at two rarely seen celebrity homes. The Wexler House Tour is a “must” event for all lovers of great residential architecture. Don’t miss it . click here for tickets: http://www.pspreservationfoundation.org/save_date.html


Listed in Vista Las Palmas Palm Springs

Authentic and architecturally significant 1957 Mid-Century Modern Alexander “Executive”, located in the heart of “Vista Las Palmas” – a sanctuary for Modernism and a premier Million dollar neighborhood also called the “Beverly Hills” of Palm Springs.


Vista Las Palmas embodies Mid-Century Modern design, much sought after by style-conscious buyers who are also seeking the desert lifestyle close to downtown. Most of these homes were built by Alexander and designed by famous modernist architect William Krisel.  Many have been restored or modernized, demanding higher prices.

You will find it extremely well maintained with post and beam construction on a large corner lot, high exposed vaulted beam ceilings and wide expanses of glass and clerestory windows; in near-original condition.  Also discover a circular driveway with an original 50’s carport, low maintenance landscaping and a very private pool.

The generously sized living room is dominated by the original natural rock fireplace. It and the dining area have gallery-size walls for your largest pieces of art. The extensive use of glass throughout the house provides a natural light for your art and views of the pool and mountains.

The master bedroom suite, overlooking the pool, contains a wet bar, a dressing area with teak cabinetry, and direct access to a large den, office, exercise room or artist’s studio.  The two guest bedrooms are spacious and have direct mountain views. All the baths have retained their original tile, countertops and sinks.

The large kitchen with a large pantry still has the Formica countertops and vintage appliances next to the maid’s quarters and laundry. The roof was redone in 2008 and the plumbing replaced with copper.  The current owners have been in possession of this home since 1978.

Influence on of REO sales on MCM

We recently did our Business Plan to Sell a 3 bedroom Mid-Century Modern for a client in Rancho Mirage. Naturally, part of that is to look at recent sales activity. Here’s what we found;


Each bar shows how many homes were sold in that month. This supports our conclusion that sales are increasing, even if prices aren’t . So we looked at the next layer of the onion, and found things aren’t quite so good. 12 of the 17 sales this year in this group were distressed sales (bank-owned or REO, and short sales).


Still, non-REO sales are increasing. Furthermore, there is only 1 Active short-sale property in this group on the market, as of the date of this writing, so regular sales have less competition at the moment. Not shown here is a detectable trend that distressed sale prices are slightly increasing.

We might conclude that REO sales have drawn Buyers back in to the market, and this is good for all homeowners. Things are still tough though and you will need good marketing to sell your home.

All About Thunderbird Heights in Rancho Mirage

Playground of the Rich and Famous

Thunderbird Heights is a gated hillside just across from Thunderbird Country Club. The neighborhood, established in the 1950’s, offers a diverse mix of classic Mid-Century Modern homes, remodeled classics, and new construction, most of which were built in the sixties and seventies.

Centrally located in Rancho Mirage makes Thunderbird Heights a very desirable neighborhood. Rancho Mirage’s restaurant row is just down the road, and the popular River shopping dining and entertainment complex is nearby. Most homes have panoramic valley and desert views with large lots and living quarters.

A convenient tunnel under Highway 111 directly connects residents with the Thunderbird Country Club. Thunderbird Country Club offers a par-71 classic course.  Although one of the oldest courses in the desert (remodeled in 1987), it is still THE place to be for the rich & famous, including celebrities. Continue reading “All About Thunderbird Heights in Rancho Mirage”

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.

Vista Las Palmas the ‘Beverly Hills’ of Palm Springs

This neighborhood was once the tramping ground of the “Rat Pack”, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr., and was known as the Beverly Hills of Palm Springs.  In the 1950’s Los Angeles celebrities used Vista Las Palmas as their desert retreat.  Vista Las Palmas is a quiet neighborhood west and within walking distance of downtown Palm Springs.  Situated by the San Jacinto Mountains it is cooler in the summer and warmer in winter.

Architect William Krisel is responsible for the design of most of the Alexander homes.  Alexander Construction, owned by George and Bob Alexander built more than 2000 homes in the Palm Springs area, responding to the growing demand for Modern Architecture.  Vista Las Palmas was largely developed by them during the 1950’s & 1960’s.

The original Alexander homes were $19,000, had no insulation and were built on a concrete slab.  Alexander construction characteristics are clerestory windows, post & beam construction, center halls and large lots.  This architecture became known as Southern California Modern, with roof styles that include butterfly roofs low-gabled roofs and folded plate roofs. You can also find double A-frame homes called “Swiss Misses”, in Vista Las Palmas, designed by Charles Dubois.

Vista Las Palmas embodies the Mid-Century Modern taste for the discriminating homeowner seeking the desert lifestyle of the desert close to downtown. Most of the homes were built by Alexander, and many have been restored or modernized with rapidly increasing prices.

Robert (Bob) Alexander & his wife, Helene, lived in Vista Las Palmas at 1350 Ladera.  It was “The Home of Tomorrow” featured over eight-pages the September 1992 Look Magazine. The $300,000 cost set a new standard in Southern California.  Elvis & Priscilla Presley used it in 1968 for their honeymoon.

In 1965, George & Robert Alexander and their wives died in a plane crash northwest of Indio.  Their work lives on in Vista Las Palmas.

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.

All About Tamarisk Rancho in Rancho Mirage

Tamarisk Rancho is a premium neighborhood located in the heart of suburban Rancho Mirage adjacent to the Tamarisk Country Club. There are two clusters of 16 Mid-Century Modern homes enclosing  groomed, park-like green belts with tranquil views of mature fruit trees and date palms that may predate the development.  The 45-foot swimming pool at the center of this private oasis in the South cluster was advertised in 1958 as “one of the finest in Palm Springs.”  It was the scene of al fresco cocktail parties hosted by the likes of Barbara Sinatra, Groucho Marx and other Hollywood talent from in front and behind the camera.

Tamarisk Rancho is architecturally significant as a well designed and intact example of a property type apparently unique to Rancho Mirage and the Coachella Valley area. These are planned unit developments of privately owned single-family residences sharing grounds and a swimming pool (a Cooperative).

The three basic roof configurations are flat, low-pitched front gabled, or butterfly. The exteriors are stucco, natural rock, board and batten. Each house is approximately 1,900 square feet plus a garage, in a 3 bedrooms/3 bathroom floor plan, or 2 bedrooms plus den and 2 bathrooms. Continue reading “All About Tamarisk Rancho in Rancho Mirage”

Palm Springs Area – A Good Time To Buy or Sell

We’ve seen higher- end home prices drop here at a rate of 1.5 to 2% per month, since January 2008.   A 35% or more price reduction from the highs in 2006-2007 is not uncommon.  In the last few months though, prices seem more stable and we may get a modest annual boost from the increased numbers of buyers here for our winter season. 

For individual sales exact trend prices may not matter too much as buyers are willing to pay more for a property they love and less for one they want to upgrade.  Two buyers may easily differ on the value of a home by 10%, which can mask any short-term trend value change.   The amount of inventory can also affect price if the lower priced homes in the same class are bought first – leaving later buyers with fewer choices and higher prices.

So, in a stable or further declining market, there is no reason for Sellers to wait as prices are not expected to rapidly rise if history repeats itself.  It took LA 10 years to recover the high they experienced in 1999 from the housing downturn then

It’s also a good time for Buyers, as we may be seeing the bottom.  Those buyers who believe we can go down another 20% might wait, but that’s a gamble.

247 Neutra in Alta, Palm Springs

Find the ultimate in this artfully furnished new-century masterpiece home by architect Narenda Patel in exclusive Alta, Palm Springs. The luxurious 4650 sf living space is on the largest lot with the best Mountain View. The Great Room double sided fireplace serves the kitchen and morning areas; living and dining areas and the sunken wet bar. The expanded master bedroom suite has a fireplace and sitting area, well separated from the two other bedroom suites. A detached guesthouse has two bedrooms and kitchenette. Features include an office, media room, custom front entry gate and water feature and electric sunshades. The South exposure outdoor living patio has ten foot high disappearing glass walls, pool and spa, fireplace, fire pit and built-in barbecue. The home and views will impress you every morning, day and particularly at night. Furnishings are available. Compare prices when adjusted for building and lot size.