What is the Tahoe Market Experiencing? Market Update, May 7th, 2020

Hello Friends and Clients,

I hope my newsletter finds you staying safe and healthy. I also hope you’re able to get out a little to enjoy this beautiful spring weather.

Many of you have asked how our Tahoe market is doing. While I cannot predict how our market is going to do in the coming months, I can share with you what I’m seeing today and give some thoughts on what this might mean as we move forward.

I’m happy to report that our team has been able to help our clients make purchases in this challenging time. Jeff Hamilton and I have put over $11M into contract since the shelter-in-place started on March 15th. Between this afternoon and Sunday, we have already scheduled six different property tours with our own buyers, and several of our listings are scheduled to be shown by other agents this weekend. Shopping activity is certainly up!

When I look at the stats in the MLS, we are down in our sales volume year-over-year. The most telling stats are the closings since April 15th, 2020. I use this date because it is 30 days after the shutdown, and most accurately represents new sales and escrows since the shelter-in-place took effect. Here are the closing stats for our Tahoe Sierra MLS from April 15th to today, and for last year during the same time:

  • In 2019, we had 93 closings with a total volume of $69m.
  • In 2020, we had 44 closings with a total volume of $34.7m.
  • We are down 53% in closings and 50% in volume.

It’s hard to say if these statistics are any indication of where our Tahoe Market is heading. I don’t believe they are, for several reasons. The market dropped off when the first rounds of Covid-19 news came out. This was the direct result of the country being in total shock. Furthermore, people stopped thinking about real estate and focused on the health and safety of themselves, friends and family. In other words, the initial shock and fear completely halted real estate sales temporarily.

Recently, there have been some indications that things might be turning around for the Tahoe market. There are several conclusions we’ve come to based on the amount of online viewing for properties in Tahoe (which is up over 40%), new buyer inquiries and the conversations we’re having with our own clients and real estate colleagues in the Bay Area:

  • People are looking to leave the city — According to agents in the top markets of New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Chicago to name a few, people are contemplating moving out of densely populated urban centers.
  • Goal-oriented buyers — People are craving open space and quality of life. Sheltering in place in urban areas where families are limited to indoor activities has made people more aware of the importance of getting outside to enjoy nature.
  • People are looking for shelter in place solutions — Knowing that this shelter-in-place might be a reality for a long time and could happen again in the future, many buyers are now thinking of long-term solutions to live elsewhere while still keeping their jobs based in the city. We are having more and more conversations with buyers considering making Tahoe their full-time residence.
  • Working from home is now acceptable and practical — With the discovery of all the technology available to work from home, there may be a shift to moving from those urban work environments and working from home. This may also move people back into larger homes to accommodate home offices and space to homeschool their children.
  • Travel will be limited this summer — The majority of families who visit Tahoe on a regular basis who have not purchased in the past have continued to rent because “they couldn’t justify ownership of something they would only use a few weeks a year.” In the past, these same families who traditionally visit Tahoe every year would also make trips to Hawaii, Mexico, Europe, etc. Hence, their limited time to enjoy a vacation home in Tahoe. Those families aren’t getting on planes for the foreseeable future, which means they’ll be up here a lot more. Now they can justify their purchase of a Tahoe vacation home, which may become more of a primary residence for a good portion of the year.
  • Ownership is the passport to Tahoe — Right now there is no way anyone can come up to enjoy a few days in the mountains unless they own. The short-term rental restrictions, closed hotels and closed campgrounds prevent any non-owners from enjoying a getaway in Tahoe. So, now with more demand/desire to leave the city, and nowhere else to go by car, ownership is looking like the only option to have a true vacation.
  • Pent-up demand — Many people are hitting their breaking point and are making day trips up to buy their solution to all the above issues. When they’re here, they have already made the decision that they are going to purchase. It’s just a matter of finding the right property for their needs.

Looking ahead, the buying cycle will be slow for a while, as our biggest challenge now is that there is nowhere for prospective buyers to stay, making it inconvenient for them to come up and tour properties. However, as rental restrictions lift and/or people stay with friends who already own in Tahoe, the sales momentum will pick up. And I believe it’s going to pick up significantly.  As people start to feel safe to travel and tour properties it will be a easier decision for them to move forward with purchasing a home in Tahoe. On top of all the motivating factors noted above, interest rates are still historically low and our inventory is slowly being replenished with some great properties hitting the market daily.


As the area’s top-producing agents, you can count on Breck Overall, Jeff Hamilton and their team to be a responsive and reliable partner. They offer creative ideas, ethical standards and connections to the world’s most influential agents.

Contact Us