Wildfires don’t stop home buyers from wanting to come to Tahoe

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Extreme fire seasons are predicted to become a regular occurrence on the west coast, but the booming real estate market at Lake Tahoe doesn’t seem to be slowing down because of it.

“I’ve got clients that are asking, ‘When can we come back?’” said Team Blair Tahoe Compass Agent Jackie Arthur. “They’re not really afraid of the fires. They’re just wanting to be more educated on the process of fire insurance moving forward.”

Beginning in March of 2020, an influx of new homeowners began to flock to the basin; the median price of a single family home in South Lake Tahoe reached $679,000 last month, a 32% increase from the year before. Complete cash bids and high priced bidding wars have become common.

Arthur said that although the fires might have become a regular part of the west coast, it’s all about the preparation before moving to the area, in the same way one would if moving to an area that experience frequent hurricanes or tornadoes.

“People that come up here are very educated, they understand that these things happen, and they just want to be protected in the event that would ever happen,” said Arthur.

Along with buyers still eager to get in on the Lake Tahoe market, many sellers are eager to get their houses back up on the market.

Arthur explained that many sellers took their houses down during the uncertainty of the Caldor Fire, but will hopefully be ready soon to get back into the game.

“We were going to list, and then all of this happened,” said Arthur. “So I think we’re going to see more inventory come the fall.”

In Incline Village, Engel and Völkers Global Real Estate Advisor Cory Coombes is also feeling optimistic about the state of the housing market on the North Shore, but said some of his clients are still a bit hesitant.

“I have had several people telling me they’re going to hold off and wait and see what happens,” said Coombes.

That being said, the Incline Village office haven’t been seeing sales slow that much, with 20 sales alone in the last 30 days.

Additionally, listings haven’t gone up dramatically, suggesting that residents feel safe in the area regardless of the changing climate and weather patterns.

Coombes credits much of the ease of his clients to the North Tahoe Fire Protection District.

“A lot of it is our faith,” said Coombes. “Our fire department up here is absolutely phenomenal when it comes to trying to do the defensible space and start fire mitigation before it happens.”

The fire protection agency conducts consistent prescribed burns in the area and surrounding forests in order to prevent catastrophic fires.

“Unfortunately, nobody can predict what’s going to happen,” said Coombes.

But there is always the ability to prepare. Both Arthur and Coombes said many clients have been staying prepared by finding the best insurances for them to be covered through any natural disaster, but are also doing smaller things, such as keeping their yards clear of debris and dead vegetation.

Coombes said with the right preparation and research, those who want to buy in Lake Tahoe shouldn’t be deterred.

For those looking to buy a home in an area that might experience heightened natural disasters, the Lake Tahoe real estate teams recommend doing thorough research beforehand about an area before making the final decision.

Lake Tahoe is unique for a variety of reasons besides wildfire risk, including the risk of extreme winter conditions, plenty of friendly and intelligent bears, and other wildlife that inhibited the space long before the residents of the basin.

“That’s kind of the risk we take being up here,” said Coombes.

Miranda Jacobson is a reporter for the Tahoe Daily Tribune. This story first published Sept. 16 and is republished here with permission.


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