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Real estate sales best in 8 years

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Now that everyone has had their fill of turkey, turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, turkey hash and wrestling matches at the local shopping mall we can focus our energy on the latest sales totals for the Incline Village / Crystal Bay real estate market. With 409 houses, condos and freestanding condos closing escrow over the course of the first 11 months in 2013, it's the biggest year for real estate sales on the Nevada side of North Lake Tahoe since 2005.

With unit sales nearly double those of just two years ago, 2013 is turning out to be a great year for both buyers and sellers. Our local market is primarily characterized by discretionary purchases of vacation properties, with only the occasional local buyer putting down roots. So, during the Great Recession buyers had no trouble waiting out the downturn in holding off on these discretionary purchases until they saw a definitive uptrend. This uptick in prices and unit sales commenced in the early stages of 2012 and like a train rolling down the tracks shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

The year to date sales totals for houses, condos and freestanding condos looking all the way back to 2005 can be found in the chart below. With the inventory of properties for sale on the Incline Village MLS at the start of December dropping under 215 units we can anticipate further upward pressure on prices if the present pace of sales continues into 2014 (and there’s nothing to lead us to believe it won’t). Inventory levels have dropped by more than 30% versus this same time one year ago and are down 50% from the desperation days of 2009.

Year Houses Condos Free Standing Total Sales

2013 190 171 48 409

2012 134 136 36 306

2011 92 99 22 313

2010 105 105 27 237

2009 84 62 23 169

2008 78 59 23 160

2007 129 91 42 262

2006 115 110 39 264

2005 212 224 56 492

The strong performance in the real estate market in 2013 is helping to power the local economy. The title companies are working over time to keep up with all of the escrows. Contractors who were twiddling their thumbs a while back are now booked out several months in advance. Plumbers, electricians, carpenters and even day laborers are finding their services to be highly in demand. Fortunately, materials prices have not shot up dramatically but it's only a matter of time before remodeling projects and new construction start to squeeze the availability of supplies in some areas.

A healthy market for condo sales has resulted in 171 closed escrows in this part of the real estate sector in 2013. The ever popular McCloud condo complex alone has seen 28 properties change hands this year along with two places currently in escrow. Prices are up between 15% and 20% from their lows and there are only two condos currently for sale in McCloud, both of which are getting a lot of showings.

Even though there is a small snowstorm predicted to pass through the Lake Tahoe basin this week, there should not be anything significant enough to inhibit buyers from looking at property in the near future. With interest rates still quite low by historical standards and prices for real estate in Incline Village and Crystal Bay remaining well below the peak of several years ago, buyers who have been patiently waiting for a good deal will want to write offers and try negotiating during the winter months.

If you can’t find what you want listed on the MLS, ask your agent to do some networking and see if any other agents have a pocket listing that may suit your needs. It’s routine for sellers to pull their properties off the market this time of year if they have not yet sold, but they may still be willing to entertain an offer. Just because something is no longer listed on the MLS doesn’t always mean it’s not for sale.

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