Modern homes are all the rage in real estate. I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing them pop up not only in Sacramento, but in many markets throughout the United States. So today I wanted to interview Ted DeFazio, a local real estate agent who specializes in these types of homes. I hope this will be valuable and interesting. Any thoughts?
Ryan: What is a modern home? And what is NOT a modern home?
Ted: The way I describe a modern style home would be the use of clean lines, lack of ornate detailing, open feel, in many cases vaulted ceilings, merging of indoor and outdoor spaces with a combination of large windows and doors and usually has a post and beam angled, commercial style flat or simple gable roof lines. Some homes will have a combination of all three. Carports and clerestory windows (starting beyond the header and into the roof line) are often a trademark of the modern style as well.
Ryan: So how do you describe that home with a few modern upgrades?
Ted: There are a lot of homes that would be considered contemporary and not full on modern. But I think this is all very subjective and up to interpretation. For instance, a ranch home that has had a modern style kitchen remodel with flat front cabinetry and minimalistic touches might feel modern but is it a modern home? I think the architecture from the front elevation and finishes through to the back yard would have to reflect that same style in order to be considered a true modern home. I remember a home in Granite Bay that was a mix of styles with some very modern and some very traditional details. Did it work? Sure. Was it a little confused? Yes.
Ryan: What is the difference between modern and mid-century modern?
Ted: Mid century modern would be homes built in the 1950-1970s era. Eichler style and many Carter Sparks designed (built by Streng Bros) homes fit this style to a T. They are mostly post and beam architecture and have that unique, classic style. Dramatic entry ways and striking front elevations sometimes devoid of regular height windows, carports instead of conventional garages, exposed concrete hallways, flat front cabinetry, skylights, atriums, courtyards, aluminum windows and large sliding glass doors and clerestory windows are all signatures of this style.
Ryan: Do modern homes have to be newer in age?
Ted: Modern style homes are not exclusive to a decade. There are new homes being built in a modern style today. There are some great examples in the Sierra Oaks, Wilhaggin and Downtown Sacramento neighborhoods. Some homes combine styles like say a modern craftsman or modern prairie style.
Ryan: Why do you think modern homes are showing up more and more in Sacramento and beyond?
Ted: The average buyer in Sacramento is getting more sophisticated and open to different styles of architecture. We are slowly shedding the “country bumpkin” label as a city. I think the influx of Bay Area buyers is also pushing the design landscape into a more modern feel. Is it a trend? Probably. But the farther we get away from faking Tuscan style, the better. Some people want to be different and living in modern architecture definitely makes a statement. Some buyers might have grown up in a Streng or Eichler style and want to get back to the feeling of living in one again.
There was a time when modern Streng Bros homes were difficult to sell and earned such descriptions as 70’s architecture or flat-tops. I created SacModern.com to help highlight the many modern and contemporary homes on the market. Give them a stage, in a way. And try to describe them using terms true to their respective styles. I have sold homes to many out of towners through the state who find that Sacramento as a region has a lot of cool architecture. Not only is there a great selection of modern properties but they are cheap compared to the larger metro areas the buyers are coming from.
Ryan: What do buyers of modern homes tend to look for?
Ted: Open concept living, striking architecture, outdoor privacy, creative inspiring spaces and a place to show off their vintage furniture collection. Your home can be seen as an extension of your personality. Someone that is more reserved might want a more buttoned down traditional home whereas a flamboyant or eccentric type might seek something radical or different than the norm as far as design goes.
Ryan: Any tips for valuing modern properties?
Ted: Typically, a modern home will sell for more than the traditional style home down the street with the same square footage. Maybe it’s a premium for the architecture, the special finishes or the time that went into designing the home. I usually ask the appraiser if they are familiar with the style before they meet me at the property just to make sure they understand the unique qualities. In the Bay Area, the modern neighborhoods are becoming historical areas, protected from demolition or odd style-killing remodels. Because the Bay Area usually has a ripple effect in Sacramento, this might be coming down the pipe for our area.
Ryan: Anything else you want to add?
Ted: Some of these styles do better in different areas. In El Dorado Hills for instance, modern is a tougher sell than in a more city-centric area. I find that the farther away from Downtown Sacramento you are, the harder it will be to sell modern style architecture. My Gary Way listing in Carmichael would’ve been sold a lot faster if it was closer to downtown. Is this due to the demographics that typically buy these homes? Not sure. But I have seen it quite often. Professionals and creatives alike are drawn to the modern style. These types tend to work in and around the core and see a suburban commute as a huge negative.
Ryan: Thanks so much for doing the interview. You killed it. Everyone, you can check out Ted’s website here.
Closing appraisal thoughts: My observation is many modern and mid-century modern homes carry a wider appeal, so it’s important to not just choose three ranch homes in the neighborhood for comparison. This means in many cases we might have to go out a little further and find something that is architecturally similar (and in a competitive area hopefully too). For instance, I appraised a Mid-Century Modern home in Fair Oaks recently and I pulled comps from various portions of Fair Oaks and Carmichael because of the custom nature of the property. I couldn’t just keep it nice and tight in the immediate area because the market area was simply wider for these types of properties.
Questions: What do you think of modern homes? Where are you seeing modern homes pop up? Do you think they sell for more than traditional ranch homes? I’d love to hear your take.