Happy Fourth of July. This will certainly be one for the history books: no parade, no picnics, no block parties, no barbecues, no music in the park, no fun! The chairs are noticeably absent along Highland Avenue, but there are still decorations to be found around town in red, white, and blue. (Thank you; your homes look great and they're a reminder that we're sacrificing for the American ideal, aren't we?!?)
Cliff and I will be heading to Sonoma for the night to celebrate the holiday with our friends who have graciously invited us to share the day with them. As they have a fairly substantial estate, we'll all spread out for a meal, float in their pool, and stay 6' apart from one another. It's weird, but it's the best we can do short of locking ourselves inside. I don't know about you, but I'm definitely ready for a change of scenery.
Sarah and her family headed to their cabin in Homewood earlier this week. Just a hop, skip and a jump from the lake, it provides a lovely Tahoe escape and I'm wishing them a festive Fourth of July. We've all earned a bit of a break after what's been a surprisingly and incredibly active first half of the year (real estate wise), but also a terribly sobering one with news that the virus has yet to hit its peak. (Don't forget your masks!)
With the understanding that we're facing a very different world, this week's theme is "vacation homes," and I've asked my good friends and Tahoe experts, Jamison and Nicole Blair of Team Blair, to give us the rundown on what's happening in the Tahoe marketplace. Specifically, I want to know how prices are holding up and if the pandemic has softened values, or if (like here in the East Bay), the market has continued to attract well-qualified Buyers, despite expectations to the contrary. (I would have guessed that vacation homes would have been the first thing sacrificed. Boy, would I have been wrong.)
Here's what Nicole and Jamie had to say . . .
The market for lifestyle-buying has never been stronger. As of the July 4th holiday weekend, Lake Tahoe is experiencing the strongest marketplace we’ve seen in our 20 years of real estate experience. The reasons for this activity are many, and the most prominent is exactly what you think it is - the desire for "rural luxury." Gratefully, for the Blair Team, there are few places where that term is more appropriate than Lake Tahoe and Truckee.
From a community standpoint, everyone is sad to see the countless events and celebrations cancelled by the pandemic. As a whole, we understand and respect the decision; nevertheless, we'd prefer life as we knew it before Covid-19 came to our pristine mountain paradise. (Who wouldn't?) However, there are undeniable silver linings; something we don’t like to bring up given the collective grief that’s accompanied what has transpired in the last few months, but if we can at least take away from this trying time a greater sense of community, compassion, and the power of familial well-being, then our sacrifices won't have been for naught.
With respect to vacation homes, here in Tahoe, people want them NOW! Offers are being emailed, texted and dropped off for well-above the asking price and often before the listing goes "live." Word gets around fast, and savvy Agents on both ends are frantically submitting and countering as quickly as they can. If vacations abroad are gone for the foreseeable future, a vacation home just a few hours away isn't too bad a consolation prize . . . (We agree.)
Our own Matt Smith ran the Tahoe numbers and discovered that in June 2019, there were 429 new listings, culminating in 171 sales; however, in June 2020 - in the midst of an uncertain market described by many as “surreal" - sales saw a 30% jump. (Boom, bang, wow!)
According to Matt, between May and June 2019, there were 908 new listings and 313 sales, compared to the same period in 2020, which offered 801 new listings, but recorded 343 sales, “There are currently 543 residential properties listed for sale in our region," he said, "which is about half of what we normally see this time of year.”
Clearly, inventory is the issue. And with all due respect to the brave, hard-working regional fire crews, our market is hot, hot, HOT! Buyers are going to have a difficult time finding what they want if they are at all cavalier. Success in this market requires diligence, hard work, and SPEED. On the other hand, Sellers, this is your golden opportunity, and while prices are currently UP, there may be a time in the not-too-distant future when the market slows and cools off considerably. When exactly that is, is anybody's guess.
But for now, Lake Tahoe and Truckee are busy!!! Restaurants and businesses are getting creative, balancing health mandates with income mandates. It’s no easy chore, especially in a place where the service industry runs the show. We recognize that those who have been granted the freedom to work remotely are moving into our area, even if their industries remain many miles away. No matter, our friends and neighbors are happy to have your earnings greasing the chains of our mountain bikes and pushing our paddle boards out into the water. (You're all welcome here.)
Note that outdoor recreation is also surging. Bicycles sales, both electric and traditional, are booming. Bike shops are weeks out on service, and any table in front of a gear shop is cleared of its items by noon. People want to connect to nature and to engage in health and wellness, and where better than the epic beauty of Lake Tahoe to do that?
Bottom line? Lake life is the best life. (You may quote me on that.)
Are we biased? Maybe.
Then again, given the incredibly dynamic marketplace here, maybe our way of life is catching on.
How can we help you?
Thank you Nicole and Jamie (and Matt). We so appreciate the update. Happy Fourth and stay safe. JG
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.