What better time than in the waning hours of 2016 to take a look at The Desert Sun’s Rosalie Murphy’s observations about the year in desert real estate.  Rosalie notes that in general, the desert's home prices and sales have been steady for more than two years, with median sales prices hovering just under $300,000 or around $170 per square foot. Monthly sales have consistently ranged from about 700 homes in slow fall months to 1,000 homes in winter and spring, when sales typically accelerate. Some of Rosalie’s observations are below: 

  1. This year saw record-breaking sales in Palm Springs, with the Palm Springs high-price record shattered three times. In the spring, designer Marc Ware’s house in Old Las Palmas sold for $5.75 million. Then, over the summer, the John Lautner-designed Elrod House sold to fashion designer Jeremy Scott for $7.7 million. And finally in the fall, investor Ron Burkle snatched up Bob and Delores Hope’s estate on Southridge, also designed by Lautner, for $13 million, 48 percent below its last listing price of $25 million, but still the city's largest-ever sale. Currently, the most expensive listing in Palm Springs is the estate of Philanthropist Jim Houston, listed at $11 million.
  2. Home prices in the high desert communities of Joshua Tree and neighboring Yucca Valley climbed about 30 percent between summer 2015 and summer 2016, with the boom most pronounced among tiny cabins and sprawling ranches out among the high desert's boulders and Joshua trees. Of course, many of these properties have also become vacation rentals. But after several years of write-ups in architecture and design publications, plus an article on Pioneertown in the New York Times this year, locals said the secret is out.
  3. Since the crash of the U.S. housing market in 2007, Canadian snowbirds have made up a significant fraction of the Coachella Valley's homebuyers, with some agents estimating the percentage of Canadian buyers ranging from 15 percent to 30 percent at the bottom of the market. But in 2015, the price of the Canadian dollar began to plummet. Not only did many Canadians not purchase homes during the 2015-2016 winter, but many chose to sell their homes and take the profits back across the border. Defying the seasonal trends of the last decade, the desert saw its lowest median price per square foot, $166, with a median home price of $283,000 in February, according to data from real estate research firm CoreLogic DataQuick. There were more homes on the market in February than any other month this year, too, according to the California Desert Association of Realtors.
  4. Developers wrote several hundred acres of golf out of their plans this year. In Palm Springs, a 2004 proposal known as Miralon originally included a 97-acre golf course; however this fall, Freehold Communities brought the project back to the planning commission with olive groves and public trails in the course's place. In Indio, Family Development eliminated a 27-hole course from the master plan for its Virada community and added a 100-acre community park.
  5. Attendance at the 11th annual Modernism Week in February shattered previous records, drawing about 77,500 people to the Palm Springs area. The non-profit organization has expanded with October and February festivals now celebrating fashion, contemporary interior design and architecture, art and travel as well. Modernism Week even hosted a trip to Havana in the spring, just months after flights began connecting the U.S. to the Cuban capital, and is planning one to Mexico City in 2017.
  6. It's the rumor that will not be quashed: Will the Obamas purchase a home in Rancho Mirage, or have they already? Obama held a February summit with Southeast Asian leaders at Rancho Mirage's Sunnylands estate in February and stayed in Thunderbird Heights, as has become his habit on six trips to the desert. Then, in November, the New York Post quoted an anonymous source saying a Rancho Mirage purchase was "a done deal," setting off another swarm of rumors.  

To read Rosalie Murphy’s original article, courtesy of The Desert Sun, please visit: http://www.desertsun.com/story/money/real-estate/2016/12/28/palm-springs-real-estate-2016/94441226/