"Why Not Just Tear It Down?" - Page 6

Reckoning with the 'teardown point of view'—as neighborhoods erode and homes are going, going, gone
Why Not Just Tear It Down
Eichler bites the dust in Menlo Park.
Why Not Just Tear It Down
Early stages of new construction in Menlo Park.

Is that a fair thing to do to, say, their children, who might inherit the home someday yet feel nothing for open planned, glass-walled homes?

"Please be advised," one online poster noted, "that the single-story overlay will decrease the house value significantly in the neighborhood…When you sell the house, most of the buyers will pay higher if they can build their dream houses in the future."

If you look at it in pure monetary terms, this argument carries some weight.

But life, of course, is not about pure money. That's why people in Eichler and other mid-century modern neighborhoods—not just in Silicon Valley—are looking into a variety of strategies to save their homes, which include:

• Single-story overlays, which protect against two-story homes but not against other out-of-character architectural changes.

• Historic or neighborhood preservation districts, which can protect against both. Local districts generally carry more legal weight than state or historic districts.

• Use of CC&Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions) for neighborhoods that once had these in effect. Many original CC&Rs restrict changes to a home. But homeowners associations would need to go to court in most cases to enforce the rules.

There are more informal strategies, too, including educating neighbors about the value of their homes. Throughout the Bay Area, there are real estate professionals who champion Eichler and other mid-century modern homes, finding buyers who want to continue to preserve them.

DeLeon advocates this strategy, which involves convincing sellers that their homes have more chance of survival if they treat them right before offering them for sale.

There are people out there who still want mid-century modern, he notes.

"You're…seeing a resurgence of young tech buyers who enjoy mid-century modern," he says. A lot of my clients, from Facebook, Google, want an Eichler. They want to expand it sometimes while staying true to the mid-century and the vision of Eichler."

He advises sellers to update the house while keeping it modern.

"People will pay a premium if an Eichler has been well maintained," DeLeon says. "The good news is, doing the good thing is going to do you good financially."


Photography: James Fanucchi, David Toerge, Mark Watson, Bernard André, Dave Weinstein, Stefan Heller, Suzanne Dunn