Even though Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on Sunday morning which supposedly means that we will be facing six more weeks of winter, many property owners will start to contemplate whether or not this is the year to put their house or condo up for sale. The inventory of properties on the Incline Village MLS has continued to decline during the previous year and now sits at its lowest level since 2006 with only 176 houses, condos and freestanding condos currently offered for sale. We have seen prices rise in all sectors of our market and are occasionally witnessing multiple offers for properties in good locations that are priced very reasonably.
Generally speaking, it is not good to put your property up for sale too early in the season and have it languish for months before the summer crowds arrive. However, with sales activity continuing at a steady pace even during the dark winter months it may be advantageous to sign that listing agreement sometime between mid-February and late April. Considering that six properties went into escrow and 10 places closed escrow during the previous week, the Incline Village/Crystal Bay real estate market can easily handle 5 to 10 new listings every week in early 2014.
There are certain benefits to listing your property on the MLS earlier this year in what is traditionally a highly seasonal listing marketplace on the Nevada side of North Lake Tahoe. First of all, there is very little competition especially when compared to the inventory levels that we normally experience during the busy summer months. For example, buyers will find just 16 single-family homes listed on the Incline Village MLS priced between $800,000 and $1.1 million. Condo shoppers will discover that there are only 2 places for sale in McCloud, 2 units on the market in Forest Pines, 1 place at 1000 Lakeshore and nothing at all available in many complexes such as L’Ermitage, High Sierra or Creekside East and West.
There are only 98 houses, 60 condos and 19 free standing condos for sale as of the start of February. With so few properties to compete with, sellers who list their property prior to the peak months of June through August have an excellent chance of getting lots of showings and reasonably priced offers. If you wait until July or August to list your property for sale this year, you will likely be late to the party.
With savvy buyers beating the bushes in the winter of 2014 combined with the onerous tax burden in the Golden State, many buyers from California will be making a special trip to Lake Tahoe in late winter and early spring specifically for the purpose of writing an offer ahead of the summer crowds. While many sellers will take a long time to contemplate just what to do this year, those who are proactive will find they have less head-to-head competition than in previous years. If you have a good location and floor plan, the laws of supply and demand dictate that you want to be on the market before other similar properties are listed for sale.
Another reason for listing your property a bit earlier this year is the mild winter and minimal snowpack. Most properties are going to be free of snow much earlier than normal making them more attractive for buyers to view. The lack of snow will also make it easier for property owners to do exterior repairs and landscaping. Photographs taken in May and June this year will probably not show your property covered in a deep snowpack, you might even have flowers blooming and the grass turning green by then.
The exact timing of when to put your property on the market will depend on your personal situation and also performing a thorough analysis of your competition. This includes taking a close look at the properties you are competing with before determining an asking price for your property. Some of the expired and withdrawn listings from 2013 will not come back on the market because the owners either will chose not to sell in 2014, have rented them to a tenant or have other plans for their place.
If you wait until mid-June to list your property for sale in 2014 you might not make the weekly MLS tour until after the Fourth of July holiday due to the usual onslaught of new listings during that time of year. Even though most people who come up during the Fourth of July holiday week are just here to celebrate and have fun, many of them do read the real estate section and visit open houses. That guy on the beach in a party hat guzzling beer might not write an offer today, but the friends he drove up with could be looking for a place. Serendipity also plays a role in getting many properties sold. Listing your property for sale a little bit earlier this year could make all the difference in finding a buyer and help you avoid head to head competition during the busy summer season.