Lake Tahoe home sales starting to heat up

LAKE TAHOE - The arrival of hot summer weather has the potential to heat the residential resale market in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

On the Nevada side of South Lake Tahoe, a slight dip in the median sales price for homes so far this year doesn't necessarily point to falling values in the region, says Jesse Chamberlain, broker/owner with RE/MAX Realty Today in South Lake Tahoe.

The median price of homes for the region that includes Stateline to Cave Rock to Kingsbury Grade was $1.27 million as of June 1. However, Chamberlain notes, last year there were three Nevada lakefront property sales averaging $4.34 million - compared to no sales of lakefront properties this year - that artificially inflated price statistics.

Also, she notes, there has been a rise in sales of bank-owned and short sale properties. Those homes, Chamberlain says, typically sell for lower prices and drive down the median sales price.

"With a multi-million dollar property, the average sale price of homes goes up, and more bank-owned properties are primarily less in value," Chamberlain said. "That is what is skewing the numbers a little bit.

"This is a great sign for buyers, but sellers will have some tough competition if they want to sell their homes," Chamberlain adds. "However, we have already seen a decrease in listings on the bank-owned side of things, and this percentage will most likely decrease once the current inventory is off the books."

Currently, 126 stick-built homes are listed for sale on the Nevada side of South Lake Tahoe at an average price of $2.62 million.

Eighteen of the homes are either bank-owned or short-sale properties, which accounts for 14 percent of the single-family resale market, Chamberlain says.

That's an 8 percent increase in REO and short sales from 2011. Some of the increase comes from frustrated homeowners unable to make payments and turning their properties back to the lenders.

"A lot of people got frustrated with trying to do loan modifications, and that is showing up in the REO inventory," Chamberlain said. "But now banks are trying to negotiate better with homeowners with loan modifications."

Condo sales also are warming. Currently, there are 73 condos listed with at an average price of $488,038, and a median sales price of $369,900.

For the first five months of 2011, though, the average sales price for a condominium in Douglas County at South Lake Tahoe was $274,365.

"If you are looking to sell your condo, the average price has gone up and it appears to be a good time to sell," Chamberlain said.

Bank-owned or short-sale properties account for 15 percent of the current condo market at the lake. Chamberlain says the volume of REO inventory is beginning to taper off, and she doesn't anticipate another wave of bank-owned properties hitting the market.

Median prices also have fallen on the California side of South lake Tahoe from Stateline to Christmas Valley past Meyers on Highway 50, says Theresa Souers, public relations chair for the South Lake Tahoe Association of Realtors and co-owner of Pinnacle Real Estate Group.

The median sale price for the first five months of 2012 was $232,500, compared to $291,000 in 2011, Souers said. Homes are selling more quickly as well, spending an average of 134 days on the market compared with 176 days last year.

Condo sale prices have shed more than $25,000 from the 2011 median price of $252,000, but again, that figure is skewed by the sale of highly prized and expensive lakefront property.

"There were a number of lakefront condos in one complex that were sold, while in 2012, we saw a number of lower-income units sold in one complex," she said.

REO sales are up 19 percent to 201 in 2012, and short sales also are trending up 15 percent to 107. However, traditional sales are up just 6 percent to 322 in 2012. Homes under $300,000 are moving the fastest, which has contributed to the lower median price, but sales of homes priced above $650,000 also have seen an increase over the past year.

"The basic driving force in today's real estate market is the combination of lowered values and record low interest rates," Souers said. "The overall media reports have lately been encouraging folks to act now, as these opportunities may not last."


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