As we move into fall, I keep hearing one question from all my clients: Is the real estate market cooling down yet?

On the heels of last year’s pandemic shutdowns, the value of Tahoe/Truckee real estate skyrocketed. The volume of sales tripled in some markets, and the median sales price rose for the first time ever to more than $1 million in most of our markets.

What goes up must come down. That’s what my clients keep telling me.


But that’s not what the data shows … at least not so far.

We are not seeing the sort of panic buying we did last summer. And anecdotally, there are definitely fewer buyers in town than we saw earlier this summer. Schools are back to live learning in many of our Bay Area feeder markets, parents are taking kids to college (unheard of last year), and fire smoke has kept many would-be buyers at bay.

But if the market itself were truly “cooling,” we could expect to see attractive price reductions and more homes wallowing on the market. And that’s not the case.

All of our major markets are seeing two months or less of inventory. That measures the pace of sales over the past year with the current number of homes for sale. Six months of inventory (or home supply) is regarded as a balanced market that favors neither sellers nor buyers. Less than six months is thought to be a seller’s market, and more than six months favors buyers.

Tahoe/Truckee (including the lake and the ski areas) has just 1.2 months of inventory; in Incline Village and Crystal Bay it’s two months, and on the East Shore of Lake Tahoe stretching down to South Lake Tahoe, it’s about a month and a half.

Technically, it’s still a seller’s market. But, perhaps not at any price.

When the Covid shutdowns were lifted last summer, money flowed into Tahoe like water. And it was not uncommon for real estate agents to have little more than two or three homes to show buyers in major markets like the West Shore, Lahontan, or Tahoe Donner. (Plug that into the “months of supply” equation above, and you have a market where sellers can literally set their price.) That’s changing as we head into fall.

Consider Incline Village, for example. The median sales price for the 335 homes that have sold there over the past 12 months has been $1.785 million, but the median asking price of the homes currently for sale there is a little over $3.5 million.

The same is true for Tahoe/Truckee on the California side. The median sales price over the past 12 months is a hair over $1 million, but the median asking price at the end of August was $1.65 million.

The market is not cooling; it seems to be stabilizing. And it remains to be seen where the point of equalization will be reached.

While it would seem demand is waning as we move into fall, we have seen more homes change hands at closer to their asking price in 2021 than we did the year before.

On the California side of Lake Tahoe, more than half of the homes sold in 2020 closed at less than their asking price (on average, 2% under). This year, more than half sold at or over asking.

The luxury lakefront market has also followed suit with more homes selling at or close to asking this year than in 2020. The same was true for the Nevada side of the lake, although lakefront sales prices in Nevada have trailed 7% below asking on average so far this year.

Fueled by demand from well-heeled buyers seeking an escape from California taxes, the East Shore saw 22 lakefront homes change hands over the past 12 months. But by the end of August, we had only two for sale — a Glenbrook estate for $43.5 million, and a family compound near Thunderbird Lodge listed for $25 million.

Prices, like always, will continue to respond to the interplay of supply and demand. But with smoky skies, and Bay Area kids heading back to school, this fall could be the time to pick up a deal in those markets with more than a few eager sellers.

~ Please call or email me if you would like a personalized valuation of your home or neighborhood. (775) 391-9443,


  • Jackie Ginley

    Jackie Ginley is a former journalist and Moonshine editor who shelved the pen in 2013 to pursue a career in real estate. With deep roots in Tahoe, she enjoys hiking, skiing, and après-everything with friends. Jackie lives in Truckee, and is currently building a home in Tahoe Donner.

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