|Palo Alto Online Real Estate
Uploaded: Wednesday, October 10, 2012, 12:57 PM
I like Eich'
Modernized Eichlers in demand in Palo Alto
|Los Gatos Realtor Ruth Mistry sees Eichler homes, Mid-Century modern houses that are common on the Peninsula, as a little polarizing for homebuyers.
"With Eichlers, you either really like them, or you really don't," said Mistry, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker. "Some people really like that California style with sunlight coming in and the open living room letting light in; others don't."
Either way, there's a lot of interest in the squat, bare homes, even in the already busy Palo Alto real estate market. Mistry said the Palo Alto Eichler she recently sold had 65-70 groups of visitors each day it was on the market. Though she wouldn't reveal the house's final price, she said the six offers she received on it went significantly above its list price of $1.235 million after only 10 days.
With about 2,700 of the single-family houses in Palo Alto and another 125 in Stanford, Palo Alto is rich with the homes.
Realtors Pelin and Nil Erdal specialize in selling the houses, and after 158 of the homes sold since 2003, the mother-daughter team noticed that Eichlers stay on the market for an average of 13 days, about three days less than an average home of roughly the same value.
Pelin Erdal said she has seen an increase in demand for Eichlers over the past decade, which she attributes to two main factors -- resurgence in appreciation for Mid-Century modern architecture and the increase in Eichler-specialized contractors who remodel and upgrade the homes.
"We're seeing that they're selling a little more aggressively than other single-family homes, said Erdal, whose team has 52 Eichlers closed in escrow this year. "I think the younger generation really appreciates the architecture: the clean lines, the huge windows and the natural lighting."
Even with their trademark minimalist aesthetic, it's hard to believe that the Mid-Century modern homes, whose average list price is $1,412,364 (the average sale price is around $100,000 above that), were originally designed to be affordable.
Developer Joseph Eichler began building the homes, which sold for $11,000 to $14,000, just outside Palo Alto's then city limits in 1949, and they continued to spread across the Bay Area.
They featured contemporary styles that were a departure from other traditionally designed homes in the area -- flat or slightly tilted roofs, an open interior design, wood interiors and exteriors based on a concrete slab, radiant heating and large windows.
"Some people used to associate Eichlers with tract homes that nobody really looked twice at," Erdal said. "Eichlers weren't built with particularly stunning or top-of-the-line material, but once they're remodeled they look stunning, and people get an idea of how much they can do with an Eichler."
Ron Key is owner of KeyCon Construction and Design, Mountain View, which specializes in Eichler remodels. He agrees with Erdal -- so long as the remodel is done right.
"I've done remodels in homes where the homeowner remodeled it themselves, and they didn't understand the Eichler and put in a traditional design," he said. "From that standpoint, a remodel can affect the price negatively."
Many of the remodels his company does range from $250,000 to $500,000, but he's done some that go as high $750,000.
The high costs are associated with the fact that a significant portion of the homes' values are tied to their adherence to a modern aesthetic, which can be more difficult to work with.
"With traditional design you can put trim around the doors, windows, moldings and baseboards," he said. "All these types of trim can hide a lot of problems from the construction. You can't do that with a contemporary design.
"It's like cabinet building -- everything has to be just right."
Much of the work, of which Key said homeowners often underestimate the cost, involves renovating the aging infrastructure of the home such as insulation, electrical wiring and plumbing -- much of which can be more than 50 years old.
Despite this, Key still sees even Eichlers that haven't been remodeled as good buys.
"I have a standing challenge to anyone to show me a tract home that was designed and built 50 years ago and is in as good a shape as an Eichler," he said. "They're really top notch."
Editorial Assistant Eric Van Susteren can be reached a email@example.com.
Are you receiving Express, our free daily e-mail edition? See a sample and sign-up for Express.
There are no comments yet for this story.
Be the first!