The Real Estate Market in Palm Springs: Then and Now

Palm Springs Then

With only a population of 53,000, Palm Springs has more per capita museums, nightclubs, yoga studios, organic restaurants, gay and lesbian-friendly businesses, and alternative health practitioners than any other city in America. Palm Springs was founded in 1911 by real estate promoter and desert explorer John D. Spreckels. Spreckels purchased thousands of acres of land from the federal government and had them surveyed into residential lots. He then sold these “city-sized” lots to retired San Franciscans who wanted to escape the fog and frost of the city by moving to the desert. Soon after, celebrities like Marlene Dietrich, Charlie Chaplin, and other well-known artists and writers followed the retired San Franciscans to the newly created city.

In 1927, Spreckels hired renowned architect Albert Frey to design a small hotel that would become one of the most luxurious resorts in the world. The hotel featured an indoor pool and hot tubs that were fed by natural hot springs that still exist beneath the hotel’s current location. The hotel also featured five private bungalows designed by well-known architects like Howard Sutcliffe and Arthur Ross. These private bungalows sold for as much as $13,000 in today’s money!

Today, these elegant little cottages are some of the most coveted real estate in the entire city. In the 1960s, Palm Springs entered a new era as many wealthy Americans began spending their retirement years in the desert. The city became a mecca for artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people.

In 1965, Steve McQueen bought the Desert Inn and turned it into the most famous boutique hotel in the world. Other celebrities followed suit and soon the Riviera, the Miramar, the Can Can, and other hotels all had to raise their rates to accommodate all of the “starving artist” tourists. During this time period, many of the wealthy retirees who had been attracted to Palm Springs by the spas and architectural wonders of the city began to invest their money in real estate instead. This influx of rich retirees has continued unabated ever since. Today, more than 70% of all homes in Palm Springs are owned by people who live elsewhere and only 30% of all homes are actually owned by residents of the city.

Palm Springs Today

In recent years, the advent of air travel has made Palm Springs a much more accessible vacation spot. Many people now choose to spend their winters in the sun instead of the snow. This has put a severe strain on the hospitality industry. Many locals blame this phenomenon on the fact that so many wealthy retirees are not “cocooned” from the world the way they used to be. They say these days, many of the old-timers come to town, stay in the most luxurious resorts, go out every night, and then return home and watch TV or play golf until they pass away!

Whatever the case may be, there is no denying the fact that Palm Springs has become a very desirable place to live and visit. And, with good reason. The weather is wonderful, the shopping is excellent, and the community is extremely friendly and accepting. Palm Springs is also one of the best cities in the U.S. to buy real estate. It is a “seller’s market” throughout almost every neighborhood.

In fact, between January 1 and April 30, 2020, the number of new residents in the greater Coachella Valley (including Palm Springs) nearly doubled compared to the same period last year. That means there are now more people buying homes here than there were before the global financial crisis.

Many of these new residents are choosing to live in the existing communities they know, rather than build a brand new home from scratch. This is good for everyone involved. New residents bring new money into an area, which in turn fuels further development, and existing residents get to keep their property values higher because there aren’t as many new homes on the market competing for buyers.

Is Palm Springs the right choice for your next move? Is the current development in the valley compatible with your lifestyle? The answer depends on your lifestyle wants and needs. If you’re a fan of the desert, the sun, and the lifestyle, then yes, Palm Springs may be the right place for you. To help you decide on making this major investment, talk to our desert home real estate experts at Harcourts. We can help you achieve your goals with client satisfaction. Call us now for more information and to schedule an appointment.

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