I recently moved to the Bay area from London (via NYC). I've always wanted to live in an Eichler, actually I'd love any classic American 'modernist' home but I doubt whether I will ever have the budget for a FLW or a van de Rohe ;)
For the last year I have been renting and tucking away money for my down-payment and watching every listing I can find. I haven't consulted a Realtor yet, as I am probably still 12 - 18 months away from having a sufficient sum.
I'd like to ask the group for any feedback they might have on the current costs of Eichlers, specifically in San Jose, SunnyVale and any other 'less expensive' neighborhoods in the South bay area.
Obviously I have become acutely aware of the painfully high housing costs in the area but I am keen to hear first-hand what existing owners and recent buyers and sellers are seeing in the market + any informed predictions on where things are going?
Unfortunately, my maximum budget is likely to be in the $600K - $650K, which seems to mean that I am going to end up in Vacaville, Walnut Creek or maybe in one of the towers up in SF, none of which is very appealing (I work in Cupertino).
Most of the listings are casually look at, don't seem to change much, e.g. the ones on this site and at places like hitechrealtor.com, don't seem to change much, and I am curious about their currency, the 'reality' of the prices listed and so on.
Also, if anyone has any candid advice on choosing a 'Eichler' specilaist as a Realtor, i would be happy to hear from you. You might want to email me that directly at email@example.com.
Finally (and sorry for all my 'newbie' questions) has anyone had any experience of the 'preservation' status of authentic Eichlers, and the availbility of Federal grants for their restoration?
Probably a little soon for this, although it is about time, based on some of the horror-stories I have read about examples being torn down, or tarnished with fake Roman columns, country-style kitchens and alike.
Anyway, any feedback would be very welcome.
Seems to me, Eichlers in Cupertino and San Jose tend to run a little less than other East Bay Eichler strongholds. Commuting to Cupertino from Walnut Creek might get old after a while. You might be able to get something that needs a little work in Cupertino for $550-650.
There's an "Eichlers for Sale" section of this website, it's at:
One of the Eichler real estate specialists who advertises on this site and also lives in an Eichler (in a San Jose tract, as a matter of fact) is Loni Ngwani. I think others who use this site can give you first hand recommendations--I've met her and thought she well informed and likeable. (Another long-time realtor is Jerry Ditto who wrote an Eichler book popular a few year back, he has his own site at: http://www.eichlerhomes.com, I think).
I checked out Eichlers all along the penisula before I bought 3 years ago. I, also, worked in Cupertino. I found the Fairglen Eichlers in San Jose suited my needs best. Location was great (a nice, friendly community), commute was reasonable (15 min no traffic, 40 peak traffic--might be less these days), and price was acceptable (land prices less than Cupertino or Sunnyvale). They currently sell in the 600-675K range. The Eichlers aren't perfect (some eyesores here as elsewhere) but the people are great.
Have you considered Castro Valley in the East Bay? It is the closest of the East Bay communities to the Silicon Valley (infinitely closer than Walnut Creek or Vacaville) and the weather is great (sunny, but not too hot - we are on the Bay side of the Dublin grade), tucked in the hills - so many of homes have lovely vistas of the hills. And best of all (from the buyers point of view) currently the homes are in mid to high 500,000's.
There are 200 Eichlers here mostly on Greenridge Road, but also on Highwood. Castro Valley isn't the most exciting 'burb in the world - however it is very centrally located so that everywhere we want to go is a reasonable drive. Check it out or feel free to ask me any questions that you have....
Re the Bay Area marketplace over the next year and buying strategy:
We bought our CV Eichler in August 2000 for $433,000. As you may recall, the dot-com bubble burst in March 2000 and at the time we were very concerned that we may have bought at the top of the market. However, we were still killing ourselves for having passed up on buying a home in the Oakland Hills in 1994 for $260,000 (which we didn't want to stretch ourselves to afford - urrrrrghhh) But this time we decided to go ahead anyway and throw caution to the wind - not knowing if we made the right decision. Well, as the saying goes "hindsight is 20/20" and what we thought would likely be a really stupid decision, turned out to be the best financial decision we have made (certainly better than any high tech investments :())))!
Our experiences shows that being sensible won't get one a house in the Bay Area! So if you wait around to save enough money to buy something - you could just fall further behind the 8-ball if prices rise as fast or faster than your savings..... Short-term prices could go down - but if they haven't gone done in the last three years with the terrible employment situation - what will cause them to go down?????? I can't speak to the market down in San Jose - but you can see that the Castro Valley market has gone up considerably in the last three years, I know San Francisco has too.....
And to address your other question - as far as preservation goes - this country in general and as a whole has little respect for art, design or culture (our allowing the Iraqi museum and library to be looted is symptomatic of the overall lack of respect and knowledge about art and history in this country). The freedom to pursue potential monetary reward, own guns, and do whatever we want on our own land - all without interference from the Big, Bad Government are the truly sacred values of America......Are you on your way back to the UK, yet???? :))))
Glad to have you aboard, Paul. I live in the Fairglen tract in San Jose, also known as part of the overall area in SJO called Willow Glen. Jake is a neighbor. So is Loni Nagwani.
We picked for location, since it is the one thing you cannot change. We looked a lot in Sunnyvale, but frankly, found that at the time we were looking (1995) too many neighborhoods looked neglected certainly not as well kept up or beautiful as I remember Sunnyvale from growing up around there in the 1960's. Thus we did not believe that the premium price tag (about $100K higher than San Jose) was worth it. Perhaps that has changed in the interveniening years.
Anyway, we paid list at $255K in 1995 and our house is now worth over $600K and I would not sell for any amount of $$ (well, hardly any amount...) As far as prices, the rate of increase has certainly slowed and the market is softer than it was a few years ago. That said, we find it unlikely that prices will actually trend downward. Even with the recent recession, prices softened, but did not actually go into negative terratory, primarily due to the high value of the underlying land. With land in short supply (virtually fixed) in this area, there is a floor below which prices will not go. As economists, hubby and I do enjoy follwing the RE markets when time allows.
Anyway, for your budget of $600 - $650, you should be able to get something pretty decent, at least in San Jose or Cupertino. We go to a lot of open homes and in talking to the RE agents it appears that quite a few homes in our area are selling at list, unless the list price is unreasonable, in which case they may sell for a bit under list.
As to the historic preservation topic, Marty Arbunich and Barry Brisco from this network could tell you a lot more about this, but it has been tried and continues to be tried without much success. I have never heard of anyone actually getting grants for this. What I think folks have been trying to do is get their neighborhoods designated as historic areas in an effort to bring some zoning control over those who would like to remodel their Eichlers in tacky, non-Eichler friendly ways, or worse yet, bulldoze them down to the ground and build something else. So the movement is one of trying to bring respect and preservation to Eichler neighborhoods. From what I have heard, the local officials have been reluctant, since homes built in 1960 don't strike them as being old enough to be historic. Also, given our fiscal crisis right now, it is even more unlikely that monies will be given out in the form of grants for upgrading Eichlers.
I completely disagree with wbisset about the political topic that our troups "allowed the Iraqi museum and library to be looted" --And that Americans lack any appreciation for art. How untrue. This statement fails to recognize that given the huge difficult and risky task they had at hand. The events were certainly horrible to watch, as those artifacts can never be replaced and the people were destroying their own antiquities, but if you look at history, this is pretty common when there is a regime change, especially when the outgoing regime is so hated. (Marty, I apologize in advance for addressing an off topic subject, but could not let this go unaddressed.)
Lastly, I highly recommend that you get to know Loni Nagwani (hightechrealtor.com). She is a neighbor and Eichler owner who is personable and knowledgable about Eichlers. She is also agressive enough to be able to really help you find what you are looking for. In fact, another home just went up for sale in our neighborhood. She often finds out about listings before they are publicly announced and thus can sometimes arrange for you to get a sneak preview. Again, for your budget, I think this is a very good time to be looking at Eichlers.
wbisset (Wendy Bisset):
I find your remarks offensive and inappropriate for this forum. I am sorry for having to take up server space to reply to your ignorant rant. People on this board come here to talk about Eichler homes and mid-century modern architecture and design, all which have nothing with your skewed political views.
Remember, it was Joseph Eichler's "freedom to pursue potential monetary reward" that allowed him to build the 11,000 Eichler homes, even the one of which you presumably live in.
My comments (a couple of sentences out of a long email) were an attempt to address Paul's question about Federal government funds which, to my knowledge, have never been available for historic preservation. I was attempting "pithy", not offensive, clearly I miscalculated.
Joe, you may not like my comments, but can you really dispute that the social/political/cultural environment of a country IS RELEVANT to historic preservation? It determines to what degree, if any, there will be historic preservation - whether it is supported as an goal by the People through its Government via laws or funding. And the subject of historic preservation is a valid and relevent topic to this forum, Sir.
It is a well documented fact that many, many important (historically and architectually) buildings in this country have been torn down and that even to this day, this situation continues. Some examples of threatened moderist buildings (and the issue is not limited to Modernist buildings) have been noted (appropriately) on this Forum over the years.
If one cares about historic preservation at all, then presumably one ponders over the reasons why it seems to be such a hard-fought (and often losing) battle in this country. In my comments I was attempting to quickly touch upon two possible reasons why. It seemed logical that if an understanding of history and culture (ours and the world's) were better instilled in the educational system then this appreciation might translate to a greater respect for those things in society. The sad state of education in the US is generally commented upon by people all the time so I never thought that a veiled reference to this would be considered controversial.
Secondly, and more importantly, the issue of balancing property rights with the right of current and future generations to its history and its enjoyment of an artistic creation, is absolutely central to any discussion of historic preservation. In fact, where you put the weight when balancing the opposing rights of these two "sides", will likely determine your position on this issue. It is also an acknowledged fact that vis a vis the other nations of the world, that the US in its laws is oriented more towards individual property rights than the rights of the community/society to history. Therefore, I was positing that this orientation of Americans towards the idea that individual property rights are an "absolute" is reason that historic preservation is such a struggle in this country and that the little legislation we do have does not really have "teeth". You imply that I was attacking the "freedom to pursue potential monetary reward" - not at all - I was using sarcasm (horrors!) to make a point about rights Americans hold as sacred, and the those that they don't. Our system of government is about checks and balances and weighing the rights of one group or individuals against the rights of another. I was making a point around around where the fulcrum is positioned currently.
Joe, I expect that you are aware that Joseph Eichler, though a developer, was a political liberal and actually quite open about his political affiliations and beliefs and very active and opininated politically. He also was a man who cared deeply about history, art and culture. I make no claim that he would agree with my comments on the state of American culture today or about how he might feel about laws or funding around historic preservation. But from what we know about him, I do believe that he would be comfortable around people who have opinions differing from his own and that he would enjoy a healthy discussion of cultural issues relevant to what buildings get torn down and why and what the government's role in society is/should be. I don't think he would avoid an exchange of ideas by hiding behind a modern-day technique to used to silence and bully with accusations of being "offensive" and "inappropriate".
Besides, I'm the foreigner here, only I'm allowed to be critical :0 Then again I am British so I don't think I can do that either ;)
Seriously though, thanks to everyone here for your guidance, and thanks to the people who also emailed me.
Looking forward to joining the Eichler community here in the Bay Area.
We are currently in escrow for a Claude Oakland in a tiny Eichler community located in Sunnyvale. Loni Nagawni is our real estate agent. She is simply fabulous to work with - truly committed to the Eichler aesthetic and, just as important if not more so, an exceptional, honest, real estate professional. Plus, she's just as nice as she can be.
As for prices, we feel we are gambling in the short run with prices coming down up to 20% while interest rates stay flat, but fine in the long term. Eichlers are becoming more and more desireable as buyers realize how cool the houses are.
Here is our story. We are relocating from the upper eastside of Manhattan (NYC) with our 22 month old daughter. Our price range was very similar to yours. Here's what went through our minds during our recent search (only areas in San Jose, Cupertino, Sunnyvale in our price range were considered). Disclaimer: this is just our point of view!
San Jose/Willow Glen/Fairhaven neighborhood East of Meridian: Best prices; true Eichler neighborhood, eg lots of Eichler houses not just a street or 2; best Eichler community (annual home tour and party, neighborhood newsletter, really tight knit group of people, neighborhood swimming pools); great downtown area, a village in lieu of strip malls scattered all over the place; view of the mountains; excellent elementary school; very good private schools; not so hot middle and high schools (plus San Jose has forced busing). If we didn't have a child, who we plan to send to public schools (we're trying to do the one income thing) there's a 99% chance we would have bought in Willow Glen.
Willow Glen/West of Meridian: See above but subtract true Eichler neighborhood and incredible community factors. Very nice neighborhood nonetheless.
Cupertino: In our price range anyway, on quiet streets, we were horrified by the monster homes practically on top of the Eichlers. All I can say is there should be LAWS. Those post WW2 ranchers were bad enough to begin with but now....Man oh man. And many of the Eichlers, too, were just wrecked by "remodeling." It's sad enough when the Eichlers are destroyed internally with the worst Home Depot (Despot?) has to offer, but when it extends/includes the exterior, it becomes part of YOUR life. No sense of "community" that we could sense, but we probably didn't stick around long enough to make an informed judgement. No downtown but close to everything. Strip malls, but "good" ones (I'm being serious). Very good schools- public, magnet, private.
Sunnyvale/Birdland neighborhood/Kingfisher-Flamingo areas: If we hadn't fallen in love with the house we are buying, which is also in Birdland a ways down the road in the Santa Clara school district, in a very small, wonderful little Eichler neighborhood, we would have bought here if we could have found a house in anything approximating the condiiton of the one we are buying, in our price range (unlikely and we just aren't up for a fixer - we're in our 40's with a toddler to chase after!). 2nd to Willow Glen/Fairhaven in terms of being a true Eichler neighborhood with a good sense of community. Lots of young families with kids our daughter's age. A great park in the tract (Ortega). Many Eichlers in the best public schools (Cupertino). Close to everything. No monster homes. Quite a few neglected Eichlers, but many more nice/original ones than sad ones. Obviously gentrifying at a rapid pace by people "into" Eichlers. Very multi-cultural area which we love coming from NYC.
Best of luck to you. Remember, this is just our point of view!