INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Record-low mortgage rates and various pandemic-related side effects led to a banner 2020 for residential real estate across the greater Lake Tahoe-Truckee region.
A recently compiled year-over-year snapshot from Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty shows a 33% increase in home sales on Tahoe’s North Shore from 2020 compared to 2019, and a 39% increase on the South Shore.
“We braced for the worst in March,” Brit Crezee, director of marketing, said in a Jan. 11 press release outlining the statistics. “We had to pivot quickly when the market took off in the other direction.”
Crezee noted that while the term “panic” may be too strong to explain the bullish reaction, there’s no doubt that urgency owed into the explosive market.
This is mainly due to the ongoing exodus of California homeowners and workers who are escaping big cities for the Tahoe-Truckee region, as well as Reno, where homes are more affordable.
“Our primary buyers are coming from the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California in search of space and the ability to walk out their back door to hike, ski and play,” Truckee-based agent Kaili Sanchez said in the press release.
That increased demand led to large YOY increases in median prices across the region, according to the Sierra Sotheby’s report, with the biggest yearly increases recorded on Tahoe’s East Shore (29%), South Lake Tahoe (19%) and Truckee (16%).
From a luxury standpoint, home sales over $1 million saw massive gains across all markets the company tracks, according to the report, highlighted by South Lake Tahoe, which saw a 137% increase in those sales, from 49 in 2019 to 116 in 2020.
Million-dollar home sales across the North Shore went up by 50%, while the greater Reno-Sparks market “continued to carve its way into the region’s luxury home space with a 43% increase,” according to the press release.
The uptick is good news for sellers but bad news for prospective homebuyers.
“Buyer trends are such that we are not asking ourselves ‘How much is this property worth relative to recent sales?’ but instead, ‘What price would you be disappointed someone else got it for relative to your own comfort and buying power?’” North Tahoe-based Realtor Katherina Haug said in the press release. “2020 has been a totally different ball game, and an agent must be savvy and quick to get their client into a property.”
“There’s an inordinate volume of buyers and agents all actively watching and ready to jump as soon as a new property hits the market,” added Breck Overall, a Truckee-based real estate agent. “Most properties are getting multiple offers with reasonably priced homes selling for $50,000-$150,000 over the asking price.”
Cerretti said it’s equally competitive at the top of the market.
“Our Incline Village lakefront inventory on the Nevada side of the Lake has dried up with only one lakefront remaining on the market,” she said in the release. “Offered at nearly $8 million, it will likely be a rebuild.”
Considering these levels of sticker shock, the potential is high to make irrational decisions, so it’s important for buyers to be clear on desires, “so when the right home comes on the market, you are confident in your decision,” Sanchez said.
“Work with an agent who has your best interests at heart,” adds Overall. “If your agent tells you that you are overpaying for the property, listen and trust them to find you the right property at the right time with the right terms and price.”
For sellers, it is still recommended to do ample research to achieve maximum value.
“Look at the overall market, the condition of your property, and price appropriately for a hot item that attracts strong and/or multiple offers,” suggests Haug. “Staging and offering a property as turnkey is still a very relevant tactic for getting top dollar.”