I have been selling Mid Century Modern Houses for ever. In fact, I sold them before they were so “cool”. A Mid Century Modern House is the darling of the millennial buyer, gen X buyer, advertising departments and of course, you and I.
MCM houses evoke images of flowing space, truth to materials and a symbiosis of indoor and outdoor living. Just look in a design magazine or a product brochure, all the cool kids are living “Modern”. While you may covet Modern and yearn for your very own mid century modern house, let’s just pump the breaks a second. There are some inherent considerations with MCM houses. I have a client that was surprised by the lack of basements, attics or storage in some local mid century modern house listings.
There are so many ways to research mid century modern houses in your area. Start with a local real estate agent that specializes in modern and particularly mid century modern. Consider getting involved with a local modern organization, like KC Modern. They can help you make valuable networking and social connections. You may also hear about a mid century modern house listing before others. Finally, drive around your desired area and look at what mid century modern houses are out there.
While thinking about this blog, I ran across this article on Realtor.com by contributor Claudine Zap. Here are the 5 Questions they think you should ask yourself before buying a mid century modern house:
5 Essential Questions to Ask Before Buying a Mid Century Modern House
1. Is minimalism for you?
A typical home in an Eichler development, for example, is usually well under 3,000 square feet. There could be some built-in cabinet and closet storage. But with no basement or attic, there’s not a lot of room for tons of extra stuff.
So if you’re someone with a collection of every Playboy ever printed, or you like to display your troll collection, this may not be the best home choice for you.
“There’s nothing worse than a great Mid-Century Modern home cluttered with tchotchkes,” says Brian Linder of The Value of Architecture website. “It can get a little busy.”
2. Is it possible to add on?
If you plan to enlarge the small footprint of your home, check if there are building restrictions. Some Eichler developments in Northern California don’t allow second-floor builds.
Those communities may limit your dreams of a mid-century McMansion.
3. What’s the history of the home?
When you close, you’re not just getting a home, you’re investing in a work of art, notes Linder: “It’s an asset that maintains value and maybe appreciates.”
So if you plan to do any kind of renovation or restore the place to its original look, it’s helpful to see the initial plans for the home, and find out if the original architect is still alive to do the work. Or else you can hire a “building biographer” who will do this research for a fee.
It could be worth it.
“There is an idea of stewardship. Owners like to pass the baton to the next person who’s going to care about the place as lovingly as they have,” Linder adds. Plus, “it’s neat to know the history.”
4. Is all that glass safe?
Indoor-outdoor living, especially on the West Coast, is a signature feature of Mid-Century Modern homes. That means walls, windows, and doors of floor-to-ceiling glass. The look is inspiring. It can also be deadly. When they were built, many of these big windows and doors were made of plate glass—and they still may be. If so, an earthquake, falling tree, or even wild party antics can result in dangerous shards and exposure of your home to the elements.
“Today, codes are different,” Klopf says.
So be sure to ask, “Has the glass been replaced with tempered glass?” For energy efficiency and safety, double-pane glass replacements are typically the way to go. Otherwise, opt for a cheaper fix: safety film over the window.
5. Do we really need to renovate?
A home that’s 50 or 60 years old may be ready for some renovations. But be careful not to fall into a “remuddle” of a remodel. One mistake is to make updates that lose the details that make the property special.
“The architecture is what brings everybody in. It’s got all the right lines and angles,” explains Drew Marye, a Realtor® in Austin, TX. “So if your house has amazing original features, you’ll want to make sure you keep those because they have architectural value.”
He notes that when choosing architects or contractors, pick one who speaks Mid-Century Modern.
“I’ve seen horror stories,” he says, recalling Home Depot finishes and cabinets that don’t match.
Buyers of these homes, he adds, still “want the modern amenities. They want the high-efficiency HVAC; they want the dishwasher. You have to make sure you’re putting together those pieces in the right way.”
If after due consideration, you still want a mid century modern house, GO GET IT! I would love to help you find your cool new place, so contact me anytime. You can also visit my Modern Website: Modern KC Home. While there may be some challenges, there is nothing like coming home to your very own architecturally significant mid century modern house.
Here’s to finding your dream MCM home,
Bob Myers Properties
Community Focused, Architecturally Passionate, People Proven