A Wintry First Quarter
The beautiful spring weather this past weekend was a welcome sight after an extraordinarily wintry first quarter that put a damper on sales of single-family homes. However, total sales of condos and freestanding condos in Incline Village in Crystal Bay were almost identical to the same timeframe one year ago. This tells us that the monstrous snowstorms that pummeled the Sierras had a major impact on prospective buyers looking at houses.
A significant portion of the value of any property at Lake Tahoe is tied up in the land. As a result, if you can't see the land you don't really know what you're buying no matter how beautiful the house and the view may be. So, while sales of condos and freestanding condos remained very strong, sales of single-family homes dropped by 35% when compared with the first quarter of 2018.
This is not the least bit surprising especially since there was virtually no snow on the ground until mid-to-late February last year. It was very easy for buyers to look at houses and walk the property in the dead of winter in 2018. But this year with the snow piled high, Interstate 80 shutdown on several occasions and the land buried under many feet of snow, most buyers of single family homes are waiting until they can actually see the property.
Inventory levels remain extremely low (and barring more blizzards), that appears to be the only thing standing in the way of further unit sales increases in 2019. Prices continue to remain relatively strong. However, we are seeing some buyer resistance when sellers price new listings well above the most recent comparable sale. The vast majority of buyers in our market have purchased and sold real estate many times in their lives. Since the majority of purchases in Incline Village and Crystal Bay are discretionary, buyers can wait for what they consider to be the right opportunity.
At the moment condo buyers have very little from which to choose. Only the Bitterbrush and Mountain Shadows complexes have more than 2 properties currently listed. There is nothing on the market in McCloud and only one condo available in Third Creek. Buyers searching for properties in these latter 2 complexes will need to stay on top of the market and act quickly if a condo they like comes up for sale.
Single-family homes under $1 million are becoming scarcer with only 13 currently listed for sale on the Incline Village MLS. Properties under $600,000 are nonexistent at the present time and may end up going the way of the dinosaur. Throughout the brief history of Lake Tahoe real estate the floor for the lowest priced properties has continued to rise over the years interspersed with occasional periods of retreat. We anticipate that sales of houses in the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2019 will pick up as the weather improves and more inventory comes on the market.