Pride and Joy

Boosting your enjoyment of life—and the value of your real estate too—through smart home improvement
Pride and Joy
Pride and Joy
Pride and Joy
Times have changed during the past 60 years, but Eichler folks continue to enjoy the modern lifestyle. Top: Eichler cocktail party of the 1950s spills over into the atrium. Above: Contemporary family enjoys cooking and dining together in their outdoor kitchen area.

When it comes to thoughtful home-improvement planning, there may be no better time than right now to begin fleshing out your family's comprehensive wish list—for both today and for the years ahead.

While it's almost a given that you'll have to take on small and cosmetic repairs and improvements when it's time to sell your home, there's at least one big plus in taking on one or more larger upgrades as soon as possible: to maximize the enjoyment of living in your home for as long as you're there.

In fact, many mid-century modern homeowners are doing just that—choosing to use strategic planning to update their existing homes, and protect the investment they already have, rather than even considering the notion of moving.

Nationally, home remodeling is on the rise. Growth in home improvement and repair expenditures will reach eight percent as we move into 2017, according to a new report from Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing. That is well beyond the 4.9 percent historical average.

"Homeowner remodeling activity continues to be encouraged by rising home values and tightening for-sale inventories in many markets across the country," says Chris Herbert, managing director of the Joint Center.

For recent home buyers, the rise in remodeling isn't being seen yet in the Bay Area, where realtor Kevin Swartz of the Erdal Team, based in the South Bay, says his team has seen a significant drop in the number of buyers undertaking extensive remodels just after purchasing a home.

"This is mostly due to the record-high Bay Area home prices and low affordability," Swartz says. "Buyers are putting a good portion of their savings into the down payment, just to get into the real estate market."

Also, as regional home prices began to plateau during the second half of 2016, Swartz adds, "Coupled with the general sense of uncertainty in the real estate market, the perceived bubble, and the recent presidential elections, new homeowners are hesitant to invest significant amounts of money into their home at the moment, and are choosing to wait until the dust settles.

"Thus, we are seeing many buyers who want to remodel, but they plan to space it out over smaller projects, spanning several years, just to make it more financially manageable."

This trend may be a blessing in disguise for some incoming first-time Eichler owners, many of whom historically have had a tendency to rush into remodeling, and particularly before gaining a solid understanding of their new home's design aesthetic.

"Unless the house is a total fixer upper, I would recommend living in the home for at least six months ​before considering a remodel," says interior designer (and Sunnyvale Eichler owner) Lucile Glessner of Lucile Glessner Design. "You need to have time to evaluate what works and what needs the most improvement."

Homeowners who have lived in their homes for a number of years, say five to ten, tend to be better prepared, all the way around, to take on remodeling projects, and most look to make improvements that first and foremost enhance their quality of life. "They are investing their savings, and oftentimes for home expansions, such as creating a larger master suite or adding a bonus room or office," Swartz says.