Palm Springs, CA, is an intriguing housing market due to its intoxicating blend of history, climate, and celebrity. The desert destination is also a prime locale for buyers in search of second homes. As a result, midcentury modern homes with prime pedigrees don't last long on the open market.
So it's more than a bit puzzling why a midcentury modern once dubbed the "house of tomorrow" has lingered on the market for years. The 5,000-square-foot house on an acre lot with a pool in the backyard was famously the honeymoon home of Elvis and Priscilla Presley.
The floor-to-ceiling windows, pod-style rooms, and winding staircase make it an iconic structure in a city packed with fascinating architecture.
But it's bounced on and off the market since 2014, and the current listing has been active for over four months.
Listed for a staggering $9.5 million in 2014, the home has had a series of well-documented price changes.
Though the property comes with celebrity history, notable design, and prime location, it is a bit of an outlier for the area.
“Most of the homes in this neighborhood sell for about $1 million to $1.5 million," says listing agent Scott Histed. So selling a nearly $3 million property is a bit of a challenge.
Size is another factor the home has lingered on the market. Surrounding homes in the neighborhood are around half the size (or even less) of this behemoth.
Another factor is the Palm Springs market itself.
“It’s going to take a very specific buyer who wants to spend a few million on 5,000 square feet of space for a secondary home,” explains Histed. “Since Palm Springs is much more of a secondary residence–style city, the market just moves a little slower as well.”
Without buyers feeling the urgency to pick up a full-time roof over their heads, there's less rush to put down an offer.
Histed also believes the true value of the home is in the architecture rather than its well-documented celebrity connection. The dwelling was built by architect William Krisel, whom NPR called "a pioneering architect who brought his vision of modernism to Southern California tract housing." Krisel designed over 300 homes in the neighborhood.
“The house is in character with the rest of the neighborhood, but it is definitely a little over the top,” says the agent.
In the 1960s, the Presleys leased the home for a year. Open to the public, the home pays tribute to their residency with a host of rock ’n’ roll artifacts, which aren't included in the sale.
The home itself is in original condition, which means cosmetic updates are in order.
“It needs some paint, could use new floors, and the bathrooms could use a bit of updating,” says Histed.
For a buyer in search of a primary residence rich in history, these cosmetic changes come with the territory. However, in Palm Springs most buyers want a turnkey home—they aren’t looking to put a ton of work into an investment property or secondary residence.
And because of this home's size—five bedrooms and five bathrooms—cosmetic updates could add hefty costs on top of the sizable listing price.
But it’s clear a sale hasn’t closed for lack of interest. Two vacant lots from the same owner were also for sale, says Histed. “At one point, we had a single person who wanted all three properties and offered over $4 million cash. But the buyer couldn’t come up with the necessary documents to close, and the owner decided not to move forward.”
One of those vacant lots has since sold.
“We had an Australian woman interested in the home,” Histed adds. This deal went under contract, but financing was held up. “She had other deals in the works, and her financing had to be put on hold until the new year.” The owner put the kibosh on the deal, unwilling to wait for the financing to come through.
Those weren’t the only offers. “We’ve actually had several offers on the home recently,” says Histed. Instead of accepting one, the owner believed the multiple offers were a sign the home was priced too low. So just last week, the price was raised from $2,695,000 to $2,975,000.
It's an interesting tactic to say the least. Either way, a buyer will still benefit from a significant discount from the $9 million asking price of four years ago.
In any case, the Presley honeymoon home will have a new owner one day.
“I’m optimistic,” he says. “This house is beautiful—it just isn’t for everyone. The right person will come along.”
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