Rob Kincaid

Rob Kincaid

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Rob Kincaid deals in the buying, selling, and renting of midcentury houses, as he has here since 2001. But he doesn’t live in one. He’ll be the first to tell you about the big difference between vacationing in a midcentury home and living in one full time. “Many were built to be used as weekend homes. The lack of insulation means that in summer they can be difficult to cool down,” he explains. “When we decided to live here fulltime, we chose a different kind of house, because our needs were different.”

Private homes with private pools are Rob Kincaid’s specialty — both as rentals and as properties for sale. This 3-bedroom Twin Palms home is decorated in the Hollywood Regency style and lets its guests “test drive” the Palm Springs way of life in a midcentury home, starting at $335 a night. Photos by Rob Kincaid

That difference between vacationing midcentury style and living it is a line that Kincaid’s clients enjoying walking. Of the 100-plus vacation homes for rent through his company, about three-quarters of them are midcentury. Some clients are families looking to rent anything from a one-bedroom condo to a seven-bedroom, seven-bathroom private home as they take a break from big-city life and escape to Palm Springs with the promise of near-perfect weather and a private pool. Other clients are couples — on a mission.

“We have a lot of people who come to town, reserve a vacation home, and then go out and look at properties,” Kincaid says. They can come to Palm Springs, stay in one of the best neighborhoods, live in a private home that is fully furnished, and see how well they like it. Whether for three nights or three months, they can experience Palm Springs as if they were a resident. Essentially, they can take a house on a test drive to see if they like the whole experience.” Some rentals are even pet-friendly.
And that’s how it starts. A client comes back two or three years in a row, renting a different home each time to try out styles, sizes, neighborhoods. Next thing you know they’re buying a midcentury home and working with Kincaid as a homeowner on the rental side rather than as a guest. “It’s really fascinating to see how people get hooked on midcentury architecture over time,” Kincaid says. “This is whom we like to call the ultimate repeat customer.” And his homeowners can, of course, use their home whenever they like. They just reserve the time as if they were going to be renting the house.

But just because you own a stunner of a Cody doesn’t mean that you — or your home — are meant to be thrust into the rental cycle. “It’s very important for a homeowner to decide, ‘Is this going to be my house or is it going to be an investment?’ And there’s a big difference,” Kincaid says. “The benefit of renting out a private midcentury home is the prospect of generating good steady income,” Kincaid says. “The down side is realizing that when people stay in your home, there’s going to be wear and tear and inconvenience and frustrations that are the cost of doing business.”

A thick skin and realistic expectations will go a long way for homeowners who decide to put their house in the hands of the general public. (See the Q&A sidebar to find out which homes make the most successful rentals.) “We encourage people to weigh the pros and cons,” Kincaid says. “For most people, the good fortune of the income generally outweighs the annoyances, the wear and tear, and the headaches that come from sharing your home with others.”

The good news is that renters who cozy up in one of Kincaid’s properties sign a strict lease forbidding that they turn their rental into party central. In an effort to be good neighbors and keep Palm Springs a peaceful place, no parties or events are allowed.

The reasons that people keep renting and keep buying are numerous. Kincaid says some simply enjoy the fact that these homes are unencumbered and uncluttered. “People always say, ‘I was really inspired by the things that weren’t in the home — no magnets on the fridge, no clutter on the counters. They are open and airy, and people like that because it’s so different from where they live full-time.”

Kincaid has rented to guests from as far away as Toronto and Ireland. In a matter of weeks, even these long-distance vacationers have bought a place of their own. “Palm Springs is the kind of place people fall in love with — and sometimes on the first date,” he says, speaking from experience. “It’s a small town that’s bigger than life because of the architecture, the people, the vibe, the weather. People change occupations or leave jobs because they want the pace of Palm Springs. It’s just such a magical place. And the abundance of midcentury homes here is part of the magic.”

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