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January 7th, 2022 at 11:00 am

Thunderbird Heights Rancho Mirage home and backyard pool.

Understanding the Thunderbird Heights Rancho Mirage lifestyle

Closing escrow on a home in the exclusive, guard-gated Thunderbird Heights neighborhood of Rancho Mirage would be a career milestone for almost any real estate agent doing business in the Coachella Valley. But by thoroughly understanding their clients’ lifestyles and motivations, Markus Canter and Cristie St. James, of the St. James + Canter team, have achieved more than just a sales breakthrough.

The dynamic husband-wife team just closed on two Mid-century modern-style homes in the Heights in less than a month, with combined sales of $7 million. This is in addition to two other desert escrows in the same time period for Markus and Cristie, who work out of offices in both Beverly Hills and Palm Springs.

“Four new Coachella Valley escrows in 30 days is a new milestone for us!” Markus said.

Interior of Mid-century modern home with floor to ceiling glass walls and doors looking out on pool, palm trees, and mountains

“Although we have a lot to be grateful for with business booming in the Los Angeles area, the enormous demand from buyers right now in the desert communities, many of whom are coming from Los Angeles, has significantly increased the percentage of closings we are having in the greater Palm Springs areas,” Cristie said. “In the current market, we are seeing that the majority of people buying in the desert from outside Southern California are from places like Seattle, Vancouver, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Connecticut, and Texas. For us, our business has been growing organically in the desert through word of mouth and referrals.”

Having recently sold 916 Andreas Canyon Drive, an impressive 16,404-square-foot Spanish hacienda on 1.67 acres in the exclusive guard-gated community of Bighorn, St. James + Canter are distinguished as having sold one of the 10 highest-priced homes in the entire Coachella Valley in 2021. They currently represent the Frank Sinatra desert hideaway, a resort-like compound retreat originally built and owned by the American icon at 70300 San Lorenzo Road, Palm Desert.

Dining room room in Mid-century modern home surrounded by two walls of glass windows and doors

About the agents’ philosophy

Markus and Cristie sum up their phenomenal success as luxury home specialists in one word: intuition. While some agents look at criteria such as price range, square footage, and number of bedrooms and bathrooms, when seeking a client’s dream home, Markus and Cristie take a different approach.

“We are much more intuitive and empathic,” Markus said. “We focus our energy on finding a home that will transform and elevate our clients’ lifestyles. This has really proved to be one of the keys to our success in working with buyers of lifestyle and luxury properties throughout Southern California.

“Our philosophy is to get to know our clients, to spend quality time understanding who they are, what fuels their passions, and what their higher purpose is in life. The right home can become a center for their personal and family growth.”

Thunderbird Heights Rancho Mirage home interior living room with high ceilings and lots of natural light

About the homes

70170 Sonora Road

Markus and Cristie represented the buyer of the Mid-century modern house designed by legendary architect Donald Wexler, AIA. The property on one of the most desirable cul-de-sac streets in Thunderbird Heights was built in 1980 for Herman Kassinger, one of the largest builders of single-family homes in Canada. A private double-door entry gate into the home’s inner courtyard unveils the house’s commanding views of the valley below and mountains that surround the property. The .6-acre lot showcases Wexler trademarks like the use of steel and glass, and overhangs supported by “spider leg” posts.

Floor-to-ceiling glass in the open living area that features a fireplace and bar showcase the home’s expansiveness at more than 5,300 square feet. Two bathrooms, two large walk-in closets, and a separate den/office area looking into the private inner sanctuary are part of the primary bedroom wing.

True to the time it was built, the large centralized kitchen is shielded from the other communal areas of the home. Floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides let the dining area breathe while also creating an intimate experience. Flanking the kitchen is another den that is connected to the outdoor living vignettes and barbecue.

The main house comes with two guest suites, a powder room, and large interior laundry area. A one-bedroom guest house is attached to the property and offers a private living area and separate entrance.

The final price on the home was approximately $4 million.

Aerial view of Mid-century modern home and the Thunderbird Heights Rancho Mirage luxury community

70551 Placerville Road

Markus and Cristie represented the seller of this 4,260-square-foot entertainer’s home designed by Bernard K.K. Leung, AIA, in 1979 and sited on over a half-acre lot. The three-bedroom, four-bathroom house boasts elegantly balanced grand volumes, massive open continuous living-spaces, long flat planes, impressive 10- to 12-foot-high ceilings, and huge walls of picture and clerestory windows that expertly display breathtaking views of the surrounding majestic mountains and Coachella Valley.

A spectacular formal entry courtyard leads to towering double front doors. Inside, a magnificent glass entry hall with views of the backyard swimming pool oasis connects guests to the dramatic, oversized great room featuring a living room, den, and spacious dining area, all of which pivot around an open central atrium. “Awe-inspiring panoramic views are skillfully displayed, and the Mid-century architecture of this home masterfully captures every possible view in virtually every direction,” Markus said.

The gigantic, luxurious primary suite, with two separate bathrooms, features a bedroom that is open to a private den/office, both of which enjoy views of the sparkling swimming pool, landscaped yard, and mountains. A custom, large eat-in cook’s kitchen features a butler’s pantry and laundry room. The four-car garage offers ample on-site parking, ideal for a car collector.

The final price on the home was just over $3 million, which was more than $800,000 over the asking price. “Our sale of 70551 Placerville at significantly over asking price illustrates the current huge market demand in the desert for desirable properties, considering that we only recently found this stunning home for our clients to purchase, and then less than one year later we repositioned it without any financial improvements, marketed, and sold it in multiples for more than a 36 percent return on their investment,” Markus said.

About St. James + Canter & Associates

Markus has been featured twice in one season on Bravo network’s “Million Dollar Listing” series, and is regularly quoted by leading news organization such as The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, CNBC, and Forbes.

As a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Luxury Properties Director, Cristie specializes in the purchase and sale of luxury estates, fine homes, and high-end condominiums. A practicing real estate broker since 1987, Cristie has been responsible for over 1,500 transactions, totaling more than $1.5 billion in sales.

As Co-founder and President of St. James + Canter Luxury Real Estate, Cristie oversees the day-to-day operations of the company, and is responsible for spearheading the agency’s new construction and luxury condo business divisions.

St. James + Canter & Associates is a modern real estate agency that provides clients an unparalleled full-service environment to suit the needs of their individual lifestyles. The company specializes in offering global sales, marketing and design solutions for buyers, sellers, developers, and investors. In 2020, Markus and Cristie once again achieved the prestigious Chairman’s Circle Diamond level, placing within the top one-half of 1 percent among all teams and nearly 50,000 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices agents in 1,450+ offices in 47 states and abroad.

To learn more about homes in Thunderbird Heights, Rancho Mirage, and Southern California, get in touch with St. James + Canter today.

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