Architecturally Prized Homes Gain Popularity

Like most real estate, it's all about appreciation.

But for Noam Murro, living in R.M. Schindler's Roth House in Studio City isn't about doubling or tripling his money, it's also about art.

"It is a fantastic investment, because they are going to keep building those horrible boxes over and over again," said the Israeli-born commercial director. "What is better spent money than a piece of art that you can live in? This is a magical treehouse. To actually move from here would be a very tough thing."

Murro and his family moved into the 1,750-square-foot house on Buena Park Drive two years ago, and though he believes that with the burgeoning popularity of the architect's work he could sell the boxy white house with the curved porch for twice what he paid, he's staying put. "Once you live in architectural, you can't really do anything else," he said. "It is away of life. You go away from quantity and toward quality."

So it is with the glamour houses of the moment, those mid-century moderns that have recently returned to favor.

While New York boasts its brownstones and San Francisco prides its painted ladies, home buying Angelenos are embracing a style all their own: the mid-century modern.

And those looking to sell these gems are reaping the benefits.

Recent events such as the 3 1/2-month Schindler exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art and the release of the massive 360-page "Neutra Complete Works," (Taschen Books) have helped raise the level of exposure, and ultimately, the value of these once-overlooked homes.

The focus is largely on the work of Frank Lloyd Wright disciples like Schindler, Richard Neutra and John Lautner.

"Mid-century modern is very hot right now," said Jan Eric Horn, founder and Executive Director of Coldwell Banker's Architectural Division.

The attention generated for these homes has not only helped drive up prices, it's helped boost foot traffic for agents like Horn and others who specialize in the market.

Popularity drives pricing

The premium placed on architecturally significant homes depends on the architect's popularity, the home's location and the condition of the property, according to Crosby Doe, whose firm Mossler, Deasy & Doe Realtors specializes in what he terms as "homes of exceptional integrity."

Doe hesitated to set a premium price on one of his firm's 30 listings, relative to a house of comparable size in the same neighborhood. But, he offered, "Some will say 15 to 20 percent on a Neutra, but some (of Neutra's work) will have brought 50 to 100 percent."

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