Mid-Century Modern Homes


When it comes to mid-century modern architecture, there’s no better place than Palm Springs to view some of the very best homes ever built in this iconic style. Mid-century modern homes in Palm Springs have, in fact, become a significant tourist draw in recent years, attracting just as much attention as the city’s famed resorts, golf courses and spectacular natural setting.

Due to its extensive and well-preserved collection of mid-century modern homes, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the city to its prestigious annual list of “America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations” in 2006. “Palm Springs,” said the Trust’s president, Richard More, “is not a city of architectural re-creations or approximations of previous eras. Instead, it is a remarkably intact and authentic expression of its architectural heritage.”

Mid-century modern homes in Palm Springs were built by many of the movement’s most renowned names – Richard Neutra, Albert Frey, William F. Cody, John Lautner, Donald Wexler, and the builders/developers George and Robert Alexander, among others. What is arguably the most famous piece of residential real estate in the city, the Neutra-designed Kaufmann Desert House, is a premier example of the streamlined, light and airy designs that are characteristic of mid-century modern architecture.

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.

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.