- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 29, 2010

LOS ANGELES | The home-sale slump has left some dwellings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and other architectural luminaries languishing on the Southern California market.

Marquee homes by Richard Neutra, Rudolph Schindler and others that once sold briskly to design aficionados for stratospheric prices are now selling at a loss if at all, with the well-heeled increasingly reluctant to buy.

“Those days of easy money and money-is-no-object artwork kinds of prices are gone,” said architect and real estate agent Brian Linder.

It’s a big change from just a few years ago, when the housing-finance bubble that inflated property values throughout the country earlier in the decade showed itself even more prominently among architecturally significant homes. Those homes often sold for many times what their less-notable neighbors fetched.


But the prices of many of these pedigreed homes haven’t yet come down to the level where buyers would be willing to buy a piece of art history.

A 1949 home built in the foothills of the Verdugo Mountains outside Los Angeles by John Lautner, best known for the octagonal Chemosphere that looms over the Hollywood Hills, has been on the market for about two years.

The airy redwood-and-glass Schaffer Residence started at around $2 million, but has been cut to about $1.5 million.

Meanwhile, in the hills overlooking the neighborhood of Los Feliz, Wright’s 1924 Ennis house, which has been featured in such movies as “Blade Runner,” and “House on Haunted Hill,” has had its price reduced from $15 million last summer to about $7.5, and it still hasn’t found a buyer.

The nonprofit Ennis House Foundation fixed about $6.5 million in water and earthquake damage to the imposing home, one of only four in Wright’s “textile block” style.

Another of Wright’s Mayan-influenced homes, the Millard House in Pasadena, has had its price cut from nearly $8 million to around $5 million during the two years it’s been on the market.

“We have a priceless treasure at a bargain price and it’s not as well understood at home probably as it is around the world,” said the home’s listing agent, Crosby Doe.