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Buy now or pay more later

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The holidays are upon us and that means festive gatherings with friends and family along with the hope that abundant snowfall will arrive so the Lake Tahoe ski resorts can become fully operational for the throngs of visitors who will be arriving over the next two weeks. However, with the sun shining brightly and the roads free of snow and ice, savvy buyers will be taking advantage of the good weather to look at properties and write offers. With the inventory of houses, condos and freestanding condos for sale on the Incline Village MLS having dropped under 200 for the first time in eight years, the supply/demand equation is putting upward pressure on prices in all sectors of the market. Traditionally, this is the time of year when many sellers pull their properties off the market since activity tends to slow down dramatically during the chilly winter months. But with prices on the rise and far less competition than in years past many sellers will keep their properties on the market during what is traditionally the off season. Buyers would do well to search through the available inventory and if they find something they like write an offer and try to strike their best deal.

At the current inventory level even if the Incline Village / Crystal Bay real estate market sees 300 new listings in 2014 that will barely be enough to keep up with demand. Considering that we are a community of custom single-family homes (and let's face it some of the older architecture is unique to say the least), many properties that are listed for sale will have a fairly small audience. This means that places with the most sought after attributes such as a lake view, easy driveway access, great room style floor plan and a low to moderate elevation location will command a disproportionate amount of attention. At the present time there are only 59 condominiums listed for sale on the Incline Village MLS. This is exactly half the number of condos for sale just two years ago at this time. With short sale and bank owned properties going the way of the dodo bird, sellers rarely have to compete with owners in financial distress. As new listings hit the market in the spring and summer of 2014 there will be multiple buyers looking at the more desirable properties. One good example of this phenomenon is the shortage of three-bedroom condos for sale in the very popular McCloud condominium complex. There has not been a three bedroom floor plan of any type listed on the MLS since February 2013.

With so much pent up demand it is likely that the next three bedroom condo coming up for sale will command a significantly higher price than the units that sold 10 months ago. The same concept will repeat itself for virtually every type of property in all price ranges during 2014. Savvy buyers should seriously consider shopping for property during the wintertime before prices rise even further. While there are sure to be some big snowstorms during the next few months, the most astute buyers in the audience will not let that be a deterrent to finding their dream vacation home or new residence on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. This has been a very good year financially for the major geographical areas in California that feed the majority of buyers to Incline Village and Crystal Bay.

When successful business people in California pencil out their state income tax bill for 2013 many of them will contemplate whether now is the time to make the switch to Nevada residency. For anyone with an adjusted gross income in California over $400,000, the net result is that the savings on state income tax alone will pay for a $1 million mortgage. That's a pretty hefty incentive to consider relocating to the most beautiful place in the world where you can make a living and purchase a nice house or condo with just the tax savings. Unless there is an economic catastrophe or some unforeseen global event that puts a crimp in real estate sales, prices are surely to continue rising during the coming year. Buyers can do themselves a favor by taking trips to look at property at Lake Tahoe during breaks in the weather this coming winter. The extra few hundred dollars spent on gas, lodging and food will easily be offset by the tens of thousands of dollars saved on properties purchased between now and the summer of 2014.



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