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Rockridge : Real Estate Advice

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Sun Aug 31, 2014
Peter Nicolopoulos answered:
This home ( The Jordan House) is a very idiosyncratic house designed by Ace Architects for a person who lost their pre-existing home on the site during the great 1991 Firestorm. The home design was developed collaboratively between the owner, a magazine publisher, and Joel and Lucia at Ace, all of whom shared a love of some of the Bay Area's great early 20th Century architects including Julia Morgan and Bernard Maybeck. The house includes references and homage to buildings by those noted architects that were lost to fires earlier in the century. The roofline supposedly recalls Hearst Hall on the U.C. Berkeley Campus, and the color scheme of the interiors was drawn from Julia Morgan's palette for a cottage at William Randolph Hearst's Wyntoon retreat in Northern California.
A few surviving architectural fragments from the modest Mission Revival Bungalow lost in 1991 including the Batchelder Art Tile on the fireplace mantlepiece and the brass front door hardware were restored and incorporated into the new residence.

When I listed the property, we set the price at $869,000. I expected that it would sell quickly for that, or a little more, due to the excellent and functional residential design quality of the home, its iconic street presence, and its status as a published home, having been featured in Metropolitan Home Magazine, and in Ace Architect's book, Ten Houses.

To my and the seller's chagrin, despite a robust Internet ad campaign, numerous open houses, several
broker tours, and a lot of networking, we were finding that even though we had lots of showings, no-one was offering. As I attempted to find out what was wrong, and to overcome the obstacles, I began to understand that for the bulk of prospective buyers, the house was too aesthetically bold, and the strong forms and colors were too intense for them to be able to imagine themselves living with. All this despite the fact that at open houses, people typically stayed two or three times longer than is usual, and were stimulated and happy while in the house!

At the end of the day, price is the ultimate game-changer, and when we expanded our pool of potential buyers by lowering the price to $799,000, we had multiple offers within a week.

The new owners were said to be thrilled to have found their very own architectural masterpiece in which to make their home, and happy to be living in such a wonderful location!

I hope that I have been able to be of help.

Peter Nicolopoulos
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