• Cole Mizak

Lake Tahoe Is Not One Real Estate Market

It's that time of year when real estate agents, brokers and various media types write articles, spew statistics and provide commentary on the Lake Tahoe real estate market. Unfortunately, most of this material is irrelevant and misleading because Lake Tahoe is not one real estate market but many submarkets each divided into a number of sectors. You can’t even legitimately lump together the sales of communities in North Lake Tahoe or South Lake Tahoe and extrapolate prices or trends because there are too many submarkets on each side of the lake.

Just in Incline Village and Crystal Bay we have 12 different market sectors for residential property. Then you also have to consider the multiunit investment residential properties, commercial properties, and raw land. So, anyone writing generalizations about the Lake Tahoe real estate market and then trying to use those broad statistics to make sweeping statements is simply misleading the general public with inaccurate information. It's a disservice to buyers, sellers and anyone connected with the real estate community to spout statistics that do not accurately reflect local market conditions.

During summertime we can anticipate seeing the usual pie charts, bar graphs, statements about market share, median prices, average prices and other types of numerical data. Much of the time these statistics are cleansed or skewed to represent a particular point of view or make one company look better than another on paper. The reality is that anyone making claims about the Lake Tahoe real estate market as a whole and then trying to use those claims to justify one position or another is really doing nothing more than obfuscating the issue.

The Incline Village real estate market bears absolutely no relation to the Kings Beach area which bears no relation to Zephyr Cove real estate and so on. It may be difficult for non-residents of Lake Tahoe to accept that there are so many different markets within the Lake Tahoe basin but that is the harsh reality. If you have been shopping for single-family homes at South Lake Tahoe and then go to Glenbrook because on the map it doesn't look very far away you will most likely get sticker shock.

Even within the Incline Village and Crystal Bay real estate market new buyers are easily confused by the widely varying prices for properties of similar square footage and condition. We are not just talking about the difference between a house on a busy street versus one in a quiet location with a panoramic lakeview. Some subdivisions are considered more desirable than others based on location, proximity to the beach, lot size, sunlight exposure and other factors. You can't just say houses in Incline Village are worth X dollars per square foot because there are so many variables one must consider.

Worst of all are the various real estate valuation services on the Internet such as Zillow and House Values that use proprietary algorithms to provide estimates of property values along with information on price trends all across America.

Unfortunately, these services are unable to provide local knowledge or differentiate between a house that was recently remodeled and the tear down next-door.

The only way to truly know how a particular market sector within the Lake Tahoe basin is performing is to do a detailed analysis for that specific area. It takes a lot of time and energy to crunch the numbers, analyze individual properties and draw realistic conclusions, something that a generic algorithm on a computer in Florida cannot come close to doing. So, when you see an article, chart, or graph that makes generalizations and lumps all of North Shore, South Shore or the entire Lake Tahoe area together as one real estate market just turn the page, unless you like reading fiction.

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