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Real estate sales finish strong in December

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When the roads are clear and the slopes are bare that can mean only one thing, the primary alternative form of recreation to skiing is shopping for real estate at Lake Tahoe. With 12 properties going into escrow during the last two weeks, sales of Incline Village and Crystal Bay real estate continue at a strong pace as the year comes to a close.

There have been 441 sales of properties on the Nevada side of North Lake Tahoe during 2013 and that does not include the 42 houses, condos and freestanding condos currently in escrow as of this writing. It has been an outstanding year for real estate in our community and there is nothing to indicate that the action will be slowing down anytime soon. Since this has been the biggest year for real estate sales since 2005, all of the ancillary businesses such as the title companies, mortgage lenders, contractors, etc. have benefited significantly from this uptick in activity. Along with the jump in total units sold, prices have risen anywhere from 10% to 30% depending on the type of property we are looking at. In general, condominium prices are up between 10% and 15% when compared with 2012, while prices of single-family homes have risen even further. This is particularly true for houses at low elevation in the highly desirable Mill Creek and Lakeview subdivisions along with lakeview properties throughout the community.

Only about 10% of all of the properties at Lake Tahoe have some kind of view of the water, but in Incline Village and Crystal Bay that number is closer to 30% due to the unique topography. However, during 2013 over half of all of the single-family homes that sold had some type of a lake view ranging from just a peek all the way up to the most stunning panoramic lake views. This demand for lake view homes has helped to drive up prices disproportionately for this sector of the market. There are only 195 houses, condos and freestanding condos listed for sale on the Incline Village MLS at the present time.

Since this is the lowest inventory of properties for sale in eight years on the Nevada side of North Lake Tahoe, it is almost certain that we will see prices continue to rise at a steady rate for at least the next year or two and quite possibly longer. With 99.5% of the available lots already developed in Incline Village and Crystal Bay the combination of a finite supply and increasing demand will support higher prices well into the future. While the great recession and the collapse of housing prices in middle America put a temporary dent into sales and pricing in Incline Village and Crystal Bay, the recovery during the past two years has been nothing short of remarkable.

Historically, when there has been a hit to the national economy and prices have declined in our community there has been a fairly rapid retracing. It is only a matter of time before we see real estate values climb past the old highs that were established prior to the crash in 2009. Whether this occurs in the next two to three years or takes a bit longer is not something that I can see clearly in my crystal ball today. However, the dramatic price rises in virtually every major market that feeds the vast majority of buyers to Incline Village and Crystal Bay bodes well for the future.

Along with the tremendous increase in incomes and wealth in northern California, the onerous personal state income tax that weighs heavily on the shoulders of residents of the Golden State will continue to drive more and more people to seek residency in Nevada. When you combine the finite supply with increasing demand and throw in the excellent quality of life that residents of Incline Village and Crystal Bay enjoy it is easy to see why real estate sales in our community will continue to be strong during the coming years. With interest rates remaining low and vacation home buyers coming off the sidelines in droves there is enough pent-up demand to keep sales and prices ratcheting steadily upward. Eventually, the market will hit a plateau, but that is not likely to occur until 2016 at the earliest. In the meantime, it is almost certain that we will continue to see relatively steady sales activity all year round on the Nevada side of North Lake Tahoe.

Don Kanare is a Realtor at RE/MAX Premier Properties Read his blog and weekly stats on his Incline Village Real Estate web site.

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