The Power is Now

$612 million in 3 months: Tahoe real estate sees strongest start to the year ever – SF Gate

Tahoe’s real estate market continues to be on a remarkable sky-high trajectory, climbing up and up and up.

March was a record-breaking month for real estate in Lake Tahoe, seeing $264 million in sales and capping off the “most prolific first quarter to any year in Tahoe,” says Jeff Brown, owner and general manager of Tahoe Mountain Realty.

“It is wild,” Brown told SFGATE.

With more than $612 million in sales in three months — more than double the amount in the same period last year — the winter season is already setting the pace for what could be another record-shattering year for Tahoe Truckee real estate.

And the first quarter is typically the slowest time of year for Tahoe real estate.

“Q1 is usually our quietest period in a year, historically,” Brown said.

More than 40% of all homes sold in Tahoe Truckee over the winter went for more than $1 million; 23 homes sold for more than $2 million and four surpassed $10 million.

In this market, a million dollars doesn’t go as far as it used to, Brown said.

“A million dollars used to be the defining point for luxury real estate,” Brown said. “Now, it’s a defining point for functional real estate.”

Compared to the rocket ship that was 2020 for Lake Tahoe real estate — last year, sales reached a record $2.7 billion — sales volume did slow down slightly this winter. But not by much.

The consistent momentum was driven in part by a lakefront estate on Tahoe’s West Shore that sold for $31 million on March 23.

Located in Homewood, the 8,106-square-foot mansion is right on the shoreline with six bedrooms and six and a half baths, plus a “lakeside cabana,” a private pier and two buoys. Listing agent Bill Dietz said the sale even included a speed boat.

“One of the most finite commodities in Tahoe real estate is land on the water,” Brown said.

This brand new Homewood lakefront was on the market for just over eight months, which Brown says is a fast turnaround for homes in this high-end, luxury category.

“Listings like that, while the price is at such rare air, there’s just so few listings that you know there’s a good number of people looking for something of that quality,” Brown said.

Tahoe’s real estate market was already on strong ground before the pandemic, but as soon as workplaces in the Bay Area shut down last year and people started working from home, demand for homes in Tahoe took off.

This new wave of homeowners are defying the typical categorization of primary or secondary homeowners. So long as people can work from home, Tahoe’s new residents may be here for the foreseeable future.

“I think we need a new category to describe it,” Brown said. “I would define it as indefinite, though it may not be necessarily permanent.”

The past year’s remarkable acceleration has changed how homes get sold in Lake Tahoe. Virtual home tours over FaceTime have become the norm, Brown said. In the before times, a common question before buying a home in Tahoe might have been: How much is it worth? Now, Brown says clients are asking him, what’s it going to take to compete with other buyers and get the house? Cash offers well over asking price are common.

“That’s something that we’re not used to in our market because of the nature of second homes,” Brown said.

The demand to buy a home in Tahoe is so much greater than supply of inventory for sale that even the practice of real estate has shifted, Brown said. Now, the job of an agent is really about looking for homeowners who might be willing to sell.

“It’s about hearing of new people who might potentially be sellers and really finding what are the hot buttons for them,” Brown said. “What is the motivator to get them to take action right now?”

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