Despite the smoke that kept many would-be buyers at bay through much of August, 2021 was a record-breaking year for Tahoe/Truckee real estate sales. The median sales prices in many of our major markets rose to levels never seen before.
In all of Tahoe/Truckee, which includes Donner Summit, the ski areas, and all the neighborhoods around Lake Tahoe on the California side, the median sales price rose to $1.2 million — almost 40% over what it had been the year before.
In Incline, the median price of a single-family home hit a new high of $2 million. And the East Shore, stretching from Glenbrook to Stateline, climbed to $1.9 million, an increase driven largely by half a dozen lakefront sales in the $10 million to $20 million range.
In the Martis Valley, composed of the gated golf course communities of Martis Camp, Lahontan, and Schaffer’s Mill, the median sales price skyrocketed to $5.3 million, up from $3.6 million the year before. The tony Martis Camp, where you can dip in a saline pool or book your own sommelier, led the charge with more than 100 home sales over the past two years.
The median sales price at Martis Camp alone rose to more than $6.5 million last year, up from $5.25 million in 2020. Those are price tags are almost as high as the lakefronts that have traditionally been the top of the market on the California side of Lake Tahoe.
The median lakefront sales price last year (on the California side of Lake Tahoe) was a little over $7.8 million (up from $5.8 million in 2020), a spike fueled in part by the December sale of Lucky Bluff, a beautiful compound for $33 million. The property consists of three homes (one of which is an impressive entertainment pavilion designed after a Buddha stupa and includes a five-star guest suite) on a vast, white-sand stretch of Rubicon Bay.
Across the board, the majority of homes (more than two-thirds in many markets) sold at or over the asking price. Amid Covid shutdowns, and the ability to work from home, buyers showed a strong preference for areas that offered great amenities like fitness centers, golf, year-round swimming, and clubhouses.
Nowhere was that truer than in Tahoe Donner, a resort destination of some 6,000 home sites in the hills above Truckee. Homes there sold, on average, 8% over the asking price, and the median sales price rose to $1.2 million, more than 40% higher than in 2020.
For the first time ever, luxury sales in Tahoe Donner outpaced the overall market. Almost two-thirds of the homes that changed hands there last year closed for $1 million or more, as compared to 2020, when those high-end sales represented roughly a quarter of all homes sold.
Tahoe Donner’s luxury sales included a dozen brand new homes (all of which got their asking price), driving the average sales price for new construction there to $679 per square foot.
While there were some deals to be had in the fall, Incline Village saw homes selling on average for 6% over asking with record-breaking lakefront sales approaching $50 million.
Is it a bubble?
I don’t think so, but a lot will depend on whether companies continue to allow employees to work from home (at least part of the time), and whether those who bought in recent years decide to sell in the wake of the record-breaking snowfall and power outages the region experienced over the Christmas holiday period.
Inventory levels are at an all-time low, less than a month’s worth of supply in many neighborhoods. On Jan. 4, for example, there were just six homes available for sale in all of Tahoe Donner.
A balanced market offers six months of supply; less than that tends to favor sellers. Moving into 2022, the ski areas and Incline Village have less than two months of supply; Martis Valley has a little more than two months’ worth.
Limited supply in the face of demand drives up prices. If sellers choose to take advantage of that and list their homes this spring, however, we could move toward more of a balanced market in 2022.
~ Jackie Ginley is building her own home in Tahoe Donner this spring. Please call or email her if you would like to know what your home is worth: (775) 391-9443, firstname.lastname@example.org.