Despite rising interest rates, high prices at the pump, and the war in Ukraine, buyer demand for Tahoe/Truckee real estate remained strong in the first four months of this year. Some markets showed impressive gains over last year, while others presented the opportunity to negotiate on price.

Overall, buyers showed a strong preference for the very old (or new meant to look old), and the very new.

One example of this is a Carnelian Bay lakefront that sold for more than $23 million. With pine paneling and a great room framed by log scissor trusses, it looks like it was built in the 1940s, but it’s actually less than 10 years old. A Bruce Olson masterpiece, it captures the unique charm of homes built with organic materials like granite and the big timbers reminiscent of Tahoe’s early days.


On the East Shore, the sprawling lakefront estate Crystal Pines sold for $32 million. It embraces a contemporary aesthetic at the opposite end of the spectrum with a bright, airy interior framed by massive walls of windows looking out over Lake Tahoe.

The extremes could also be seen in Martis Camp, which has in recent years kept pace with lakefront prices. Nine of this year’s top 10 sales on the California side of Lake Tahoe were in Martis Camp, two of which are brand-new homes that represent a departure from the flat-roofed, uber-contemporary designs of past years. Steep-pitched roofs, gables, and French oak flooring combine with light-filled interiors to make these homes, which are selling for upwards of $13 million, more of a mountain modern design, gracefully combining the old and the new.

The same trend was evident at the lower price points in communities like Tahoe Donner, where Marlette-style homes of the late 1970s to early 1980s flew off the shelves with multiple offers and over-asking prices.

The Marlette is a rafter- and beam-style cabin that was built on many Tahoe lots during that period. An architectural design in which the roof is supported by rafters (as opposed to engineered trusses), it has garnered an increasingly large fan base. And whether updated or original, garage or no garage, the Marlettes for sale this year were met with bidding wars. 

One little Marlette on Tahoe Donner’s Glacier Way, dated and with almost all of its original 1980 finishes, sold for $1,175,000 — 38% over ask in just four days on the market. Another highly upgraded Marlette on Lausanne (with no garage) closed at $1.1 million (asking price: $865,000).

Many markets were characterized by low inventory, but strong demand in some neighborhoods pushed prices up and led to bidding wars.

Tahoe Donner broke all records with a median sales price so far this year of $1.3 million, inching up 13% over the previous year and setting a new record for this community in the hills above Truckee, where homes historically sold for less than $1 million on average.

While we saw 65 Tahoe Donner homes change hands by the end of April, on most weekends there was as little as a handful of homes to show buyers, and the vast majority sold at or over asking, on average 10% over the listed price.

Although the median sales price in many communities around Tahoe/Truckee has hit an all-time high, smart pricing remained key to successful sales.

Homes that were over-priced out the gate succumbed to price reductions and often sold for less than they would have if they were priced correctly from the start. A handful of Tahoe Donner homes over-reaching in the $1 million to $2 million range sold for more than 10% under asking, which shows the market has its limits.

That was also true in Incline Village, where a little more than half of the homes sold this year closed below the asking price. In a market where price negotiations were once again becoming fashionable, there was nonetheless a strong buyer preference for rafter-and-beam construction: One nicely remodeled lakeview home with steep-pitched, framed roofs and big-timber trusses sold for a little more than $5.5 million ($230,000 over asking).

~ Please call or email me for a complimentary evaluation of your home or neighborhood value. Jackie Ginley (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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