What’s the best time to buy or sell real estate in Tahoe? This is a question frequently asked by sellers looking to fetch top dollar for their homes and condos or buyers looking for a bargain.

The answer is surprisingly simple: It comes down to the tried and true economics of supply and demand. Recessionary times aside, the best time to sell your home or condo is when there are lots of buyers in the market and little or no interesting inventory.

As a general rule in the Tahoe market, ski properties tend to sell better in ski season, and lakefronts move more often during the summer months. Who wants to look at lakefront properties when the winter winds have the waves on Tahoe whipped up so high you could surf them?


But the supply and demand equation will almost always trump seasonal trends. Last summer, for example, I sold a Ski Trail condo at Northstar in less than a week at close to asking price. It was an excellent location, but ski-in, ski-out access doesn’t hold quite the same charm when the slopes are a field of dried grass and tree stumps.

The best thing my sellers had going for them last summer was that they were the only Ski Trail condo on the market that week. Pent-up demand naturally flows to the first property that comes on market.

Tahoe also has a seasonal ebb and flow, with fall and spring seeing the lowest turnover. The shoulder seasons, as they are called, tend to see fewer buyers in the market, but they can also be a good time for buyers to pick up a bargain from motivated sellers.

Tahoe Donner is an interesting study. With roughly 6,000 home sites, the area sees more property change hands every year than any other community in Truckee/Tahoe. This year so far, for example, some 200 single-family homes have sold in Tahoe Donner for a combined volume of more than $150 million. That’s more than all of the home sales at the major ski areas combined.

As a year-round resort, Tahoe Donner holds an appeal for the summer buyer looking for golf, tennis, and the beach club marina. With access being challenging for the upper reaches of the community throughout the winter, one would guess that spring and summer would be the best seasons to sell for top dollar there.

But the opposite is actually true. Over the past five years, Tahoe Donner homes have fetched the highest median sales prices during the snowy months from November to February, when there is typically less inventory from which to choose. This year, for example, February marked the highest median home price point in the area at $800,000 — with only 14 sales the whole month. Last year, December topped the charts with a median sales price of $930,000.

So, what’s the best time to sell? When almost no one else is selling. And for buyers, fall or spring — after ski leases are finished for the season — can present a nice opportunity to negotiate with motivated sellers.

~ Jackie Ginley is a broker associate with Chase International Real Estate. You can see her listings at tahoeishome.com.

Image: https://www.redfin.com/city/20216/CA/Truckee


  • 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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