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Buyers can't always get what they want

November is the start of the annual decline in inventory of properties for sale in Incline Village and Crystal Bay as sellers begin to remove their houses, condos and freestanding condos from the MLS in anticipation of the winter doldrums. 19 properties came off the market during the past week bringing the inventory level down to a total of 229 places for sale in Incline Village and Crystal Bay. This puts the total number of properties for sale at 20% below the same time in 2012 and down 40% from 2011.

Buyers who are shopping for property on the Nevada side of North Lake Tahoe are starting to get frustrated with the lack of variety for sale as we head deeper into autumn. With 2013 shaping up to be the biggest year for Incline Village and Crystal Bay real estate sales since 2005, buyers who are used to bargain-hunting between November and March will find themselves with fewer choices and sellers who are not nearly as motivated to cut price and run as they were during the recession.

Typically, many sellers will pull their properties off the market at the end of November and December but this is one winter when that might not be the best strategy. Historically, real estate sales at Lake Tahoe drop dramatically during the winter months. However, with the continued strength in the Northern California economy and the distinct possibility that this winter will be a rather mild one based on current weather patterns, for many sellers it will make sense to keep their properties listed for sale as buyers continue to peruse the available offerings.

Of the 159 condos that have closed escrow in Incline Village and Crystal Bay during the first 10 months of 2013, 26 of those sales occurred in just the McCloud condominium complex. As of this writing, there are only three properties for sale in the entire complex of 256 units and all of them are two bedroom, two bath upper units with identical floor plans. Recently, the two available one bedroom condos for sale in this development went into escrow and there has not been a three-bedroom condo offered for sale since all the way back in February. Buyers who are searching for a lower level two bedroom unit or any type of three-bedroom floor plan have been playing a waiting game for quite awhile and will likely find themselves in a multiple offer situation when one of these properties hits the market.

The ever popular Third Creek condominium development has witnessed 12 properties changing hands so far this year. The only remaining two bedroom condo that was for sale, (#51) got an accepted offer during the past week. This particular property has the smallest floor plan of any two bedroom condominium in the complex at just under 1400 ft.². With 14 different floor plans in Third Creek and a wide variety of locations and settings, buyers will be twiddling their thumbs as they wait for another two bedroom unit to come on the market. There are only four properties listed on the Incline Village MLS in this complex with asking prices ranging from $639,000 up to $819,000, but at least they encompass three different floor plans of the three-bedroom genre.

During the recession the freestanding condos in the Country Club Villas located at 198 Country Club Dr. saw their prices drop precipitously as properties languished on the market for months at a time. But the piper is playing a completely different tune during 2013 as prices rocketed 20% and the inventory dropped to zero. The next time one of these three bedroom, 2.5 bath, 2100+ square foot freestanding condos gets listed on the MLS there will probably be a bidding war as multiple buyers jump off the sidelines.

Even though the overall inventory of properties for sale in Incline Village and Crystal Bay hovers around a six month supply many of these are places that have been on the market anywhere from a few months to several years. Some places just have a floor plan, location, steep driveway, unusable lot or other feature that buyers are not craving. Until just the right buyer comes along these properties will continue to sit regardless of how much the price is slashed. Sellers that have unique properties with attributes that are not highly desirable cannot expect their agent to work magic, especially during the off-season.

On a personal note, RE/MAX corporate just-released the individual sales totals for the first three quarters of 2013. It was a pleasant surprise to discover that this columnist is ranked #1 in total sales of residential and commercial property among all of the RE/MAX agents in the State of Nevada. Thank you to all of the buyers and sellers that have helped make this an exciting and extremely successful year.

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