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Coronavirus US: Lake Tahoe property sales soar despite pandemic

Lake Tahoe has seen a record breaking year of real estate sales and the inventory of properties is at a shocking low amid the pandemic as people working from home seek refuge in the picturesque mountains.  

Local real estate agents in the Lake Tahoe and Reno area reveal home sales in the area are up 20 percent compared to July last year and the number of active listings are down 25 percent, with properties whisked off the market in a matter of days. 

‘People were thinking of leaving the Bay area, leaving more populated cities and coming to areas like Lake Tahoe, which is traditionally a second home market, and buying homes there and working remotely,’ Senior Buyers Agent Sarah Russell with RedFin tells 

She says she saw the wave of buyers hit around the third and fourth week of the pandemic when offices closed and people started working remotely.

Russell says the market is so hot in-demand properties receive multiple offers often leading to bidding wars and waived contingencies. 

‘I know in Tahoe we just don’t have enough homes even on the market for buyers to look at. By the time you schedule a tour the agent is already calling saying, hey I’ve got offers. It’s very hot market,’ she said.  

She revealed that homes in the area usually take between 30 and 120 days to sell, but now they’re hitting the market and being snapped up in less than 30 days, often with many buyers expressing interest and handing in offers. 

Bay Area tech employees are a part of the wave seeking greener pastures as Google, Facebook and Apple say employees won’t return to the office until 2021.  

Remote learning in most schools means families can leave big cities for more outdoor space too. 

The influx of demand in Tahoe, which typically draws locals looking for a second home, has seen this year’s numbers skyrocket. 

According to RedFin home sales are up 20 percent in the Lake Tahoe and Reno area for the four weeks ending in July 26 compared to this time last year. 

The median sale price is up seven percent to a median of $413,000. 

And the inventory of homes is at a historic low with the number of actively listed homes down 25 percent from last year. 

With so little demand buyers are putting in offers on any property they can, amping up the competition. 

Russell says she recently helped a client on the Nevada side of Tahoe purchase a property that had gone into escrow, but the offers for the house kept coming in. 

‘It was very intense because we had to be perfect with our timelines because we knew there were three back up offers behind us so we had to be really diligent so that way our client won the house,’ she said.   

‘You had homes that sat [on the market] for a year, and all of a sudden you have multiple offers. It’s nothing I’ve seen before,’ Jamie Moore, a principal agent for Redfin said to SFGate. 

The demand has been so high, inventory is historical low.

In June 2019 there were 817 properties on the market and 127 sold that month, according to Tahoe Sierra MLS.

By contrast this year in June 2020 there were only 408 homes on the market and 212 sold.

Susan Lowe, the senior vice president and corporate broker for Chase International, says there’s not just an influx of people from the Bay Area, people are coming from all over California state and even Nevada.

‘What I see different is a mindset change. I believe people had time to reflect on what’s important in life while they were secluded at home. They want a place to come that’s safe and a better quality of life,’ she said.

She said she recently sold a home that had 14 showings in four days and it received a stunning five officers.  

‘People just want to be here at all costs. The world is discovering that Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places in the world.’

And the offers coming in are consistent at asking price or well above. 

‘The buyer pool feels like its doubled or even tripled, and the seller pool has greatly reduced,’ Katherina Haug, Sales Associate with Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty, said to SFGate. 

‘Our inventory is so low right now. Something comes on the market and almost every property is getting multiple offers and at asking or over-asking,’ she added.  

Lake Tahoe has long been a perfect escape for Californians as its nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains and, on the Nevada side, has lower taxes.  

One property on the market recently priced at $1.65million in downtown Truckee, California went into contract less than 24 hours later and closed for $2million, according to CNBC.

The resort of community of Tahoe Donner usually has between 80 and 120 homes on the market and now only has about a dozen.

Kaili Sanchez with Sierra Sotheby’s said the company’s pending sales in June for the Tahoe area totalled a whopping $191million, up from $72million last year.

From July 1 to 15 pending sales racked up $129million, more than three times last year’s total.

Some buyers are now snapping up empty land to build a home for themselves as there are few properties left to purchase.

Local builders, construction companies, and architects say the waiting lists are getting longer for their services as ambitious people come in with plans to design their dream vacation home.

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