Strange Home, Strange Land

One of East Coast’s three bonafide Eichlers hits the market—but still befuddles buyers
Eichler in a Strange Land
One of only three bonafide Eichler homes built outside of California—a rare breed indeed!—hit the market recently, but the response, at least from locals in upstate New York, where the homes were built back in 1962, has been "not overwhelming," even leaving some potential buyers scratching their heads.
Eichler in a Strange Land

It was one of Joe Eichler's most challenging homebuilding projects—developing homes 3,000 miles away from his company's California hub. That was back in 1962.

Today, nearly 55 years later, as one of a handful of bonafide Eichler homes built in New York comes to market, the tiny Eichler development there continues to befuddle potential buyers—like some sort of 'strange homes in a strange land' (with apologies to Heinlein).

"The house is not for everybody in this area. If it was in California, it would sell for a lot more," said Allan Erps, listing agent for Better Homes & Gardens / Rand Realty of the Eichler home at 130 Grotke Lane in Spring Valley, approximately 30 miles north of New York City. "We're working with the constraints that we have."

Bronx native Joe Eichler was determined in 1962 to give his native state a crack at his unique brand of housing. He planned to build 216 of them—but then things went awry.

"There's only three on the whole East Coast, and they're all within walking distance," Erps said of the Grotke Lane/Perth Avenue Eichlers in Spring Valley.

The home is a double-gabled Jones and Emmons design (model 1505) with four beds and two baths in 2,060 square feet on a .39-acre lot. It was listed in mid-May at $499,900, and the price dropped $10,000 in June.

"We bought it as a short sale, [so] we know that we got it at below market value," said seller Tim Santos, who bought it with partner Lawrence Callahan for $375,000 in 2010. "We loved it before we knew it was an Eichler."

"We basically removed a lot of stuff that made it contemporary to the '80s," Santos said of replacing the flooring, some sheetrock, a kitchen wall, and a glass false ceiling, the latter possibly installed to reduce heating costs. They also remodeled both bathrooms and tried to "give it more of an urban chic feel."

"I think the most iconic, the most interesting part is the atrium," he said, having previously compared it in winter to a snow globe. Therein, perhaps, lies the rub with an Eichler at this latitude.

"I would love sitting out there on a nice day, but I wouldn't love snow coming in," said Erps of what he called his "Jetson-like property."

"People come in through the front entrance, and it's beautiful...and then they consider shoveling snow," said Erps of the customer interest in the property, which he admitted has been "OK, not overwhelming."