Escape from the Bay - Page 3

From Boise to Sacramento to Portland—flight paths that lead to modern living without sky-high prices
Escape from the Bay
Among cities that have been attracting Bay Area modernist refugees is Sacramento, where prices are appealing as are the quality of the homes and the community that has grown around them. Pictured here is Sacramento’s skyline, which exudes a pleasant urban vibe today.
Escape from the Bay
Escape from the Bay
Top: A glimpse of Sacramento's night scene. Above: Hiking through the redwoods at Covell Park in nearby Davis.
Escape from the Bay
Escape from the Bay
Escape from the Bay
MCM enthusiasts Nancy Rosellini and Glynn Owens' Streng home in Sacramento's Overbrook neighborhood. The home was on the 2019 'Sacramento MCM Home Tour.'
Escape from the Bay
Nancy Rosellini and Glynn Owens, who once wondered "would a mid-century modern house ever be in our future?"

Andrew had thought before about making a living as an independent designer, but he knew he wouldn't earn "enough to pay for an Eichler mortgage." Without a mortgage, though, he would have the chance to try.

In Boise, he says, "We knew we were not going to find a $70,000 industrial design job. But you don't have to. We bought the house in cash, using the equity from our Eichler." They had sold the home in Concord for $765,000.

"When there's no mortgage, there's more chance for you to expand your talents," he says.

"It's up and down but not bad, he says of Autronic. "I'm trying to make things I enjoy and see whichever ones do the best," he says. "Clocks are popular."

Forbes magazine has identified Boise as one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States—and one with rapidly escalating real estate prices. In 2018, according to the New York Times, 20,000 Californians moved to the 'Gem State.'

Asked about Boise's appeal, broker TJ Pierce says, "It starts with a lifestyle that's possible here that is financially driven. Our average price point for mid-century [homes] is $299,000, which is pretty reasonable. But three years ago it was less than $200,000. Now our locals are feeling that 'it used to be affordable, but it's not anymore.'"

Pierce also cites "the rivers, the mountains, the forests, and a cool downtown scene that's growing with dining and the arts. There's a lot more culture than there was five years ago."

Pierce says that 'modern' homes in Boise rarely approach the Eichler ideal.

"We are not Palm Springs, California," he says. "Let me put it this way—of the 654 homes we sold last year, we had a 'top 40' of the really sexy, mid-century modern. The rest we call 'mid-century modest.' They can be made sexy, but many of them have not been understood by their owners."

Because of its proximity to the Bay Area, and the availability of both Streng and Eichler homes, as well as custom mid-century modern houses, Sacramento also exerts a strong appeal.

Steve Streng, a real estate broker with Streng Realty who handles much modern business in Sacramento—and is the son of builder Jim Streng—says, "the attraction of Sacramento is the lower price, but also the quality of the homes and the community that has grown around them."

"I've had a lot of people from the Bay Area and Los Angeles and Palm Springs buy up here," says broker Ted DeFazio, who handles modern homes in Sacramento and Davis.

"What I've been seeing is, some locals have been pooh-poohing some of these homes because they're not updated. But people from the Bay Area appreciate them, because they're closer to their roots," he says.

Among those who have made the move are Nancy Rosellini and Glynn Owens, who bought a Streng home in Sacramento's Overbrook neighborhood four years ago. They've become part of a community of mid-century modern enthusiasts, and even opened their home for the 2019 edition of the 'Sacramento Mid-Century Modern Home Tour,' which focused on Strengs.

Glynn, a Caltrans engineer, and Nancy, who teaches Pilates in San Francisco, were happy with their bungalow from 1926 in Oakland's Maxwell Park neighborhood—until they started collecting mid-century modern furniture, and visiting Palm Springs, where they admired the sleekly stylish Alexander homes.

"We got to thinking, would a mid-century modern house ever be in our future? "Glynn says. "We looked [at Eichlers] in Castro Valley and Concord. They were totally way out of our price range."

"So we thought, let's fix up our bungalow in more of a mid-century modern style and stay here," Nancy says.