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5 tips for buying a Mid-Century Home

Paul Kaplan

I've made it a professional goal to be known as a leader in the Real Estate industry in the Palm Springs market for the past 20+ years...

I've made it a professional goal to be known as a leader in the Real Estate industry in the Palm Springs market for the past 20+ years...

Feb 21 5 minutes read

You crave mid-century architecture and design; you've dreamed of owning a mid-century home; you love the indoor/outdoor lifestyle a mid-century home provides- you know Palm Springs is where you want to be;   now  you're ready to make that dream a realty.   Where to start??  The Paul Kaplan Group, who have been helping clients buy mid-century homes for almost 20 years, provide the following tips:

1.  Hire an expert  -  Palm Springs is called the "Mecca of mid-century architecture" for a reason.   Its filled with unique neighborhoods featuring a variety of architectural homes.  Not all Realtors are familiar with the characteristics of the communities that feature these homes-  Hiring a local expert that has the knowledge and experience of selling mid-century homes is your first step in guiding you through this process.  Often a seasoned Realtor may know of properties available for sale  that aren't yet advertised to the public on the internet, which can give you the advantage over other buyers looking for the same properties.  


2.  Understand the difference between "Fee land" and "Lease Land."  -  Palm Springs was divided into a checkerboard grid years ago; every other gird space was allocated to the local Tribe;  thus some properties are built on Tribal Land, or "lease" land.  The other grids are "Fee" Land, land that you own.  Your local Realtor expert can explain the difference between the two, and help you understand the pros and cons of each.

3.  Inspections!  You're not buying a "new home" so you can expect  there will be a list of items that will come up on an inspection report.  Mid-Century homes are 50 to 70 years old now.  And as such, certain systems if not already replaced, may be at the end of their useful lifespan.  Hiring professional licensed inspectors that understand mid-century homes, will help you discover what repairs may be needed now, or projected in the near future.  This will help you estimate the future costs of owning your home.  Your local experienced Realtor that knows mid-century homes,  will be able to suggest what inspections you may want to get.

4.  Utility expenses- As much as we adore mid-century architecture, these homes were not necessarily built for year-round living in the desert.  All those walls of windows that you love??  Well, they can bring in a lot of sunshine/heat!   Insulation, dual pane windows and other energy saving elements that we find in modern homes, weren't present in the 1960s-  as a result, you can expect your utility bills on a mid-century home to be a bit on the spendy side, especially if you're planning on living in your home year round.  There are modifications that can or may have been done to the home to help its energy efficiency.

5.  Design-  You're attracted to the architecture for a reason.  Most mid-century floorplans feature open concept living.  Part of the revolutionary design for the time, was a kitchen that opened out to the living areas; these homes encourage casual living.   Often the outdoor space is as important as the indoor space.  Don't judge a home by its square footage;  the interiors may be on the small side, but the home may still feel big because of its relationship to the outdoors.  What you typically won't find, are large bathroom suites-  the "luxury" master bedroom bath concept emerged later, in the 1970s.  So, you may have to live with some utilitarian sized bathrooms.  The good news is there's typically plenty of room on the lot to expand.  In general the basic lot size in Palm Springs was 10,000sf;  land was cheap in the 1960s.  Unlike most new construction projects, you'll have plenty of room for that outdoor tanning deck, kitchen and living room.

The Paul Kaplan Group has been specializing in Mid-Century homes for almost 20 years.  We're experienced,  knowledgeable and  passionate about our architecture in Palm Springs and can help guide you through the entire house-buying process to find your ideal mid-century home.    Contact us at 760-459-1396.

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