Incline Village Real Estate Update 6/11/17

It was another spectacular week for Incline Village real estate sales.  The market is really hopping with 15 properties going under contract, 11 new listings and 16 places closing escrow.  We saw a demand in the single-family marketplace making up 12 of the 15 accepted offers, with a median property under contract coming in at $1,699,000.  Sales totals on the Incline Village MLS continue to track about 15% behind of last year for single-family homes due to the still low inventory in our market.  Condo and freestanding condo sales in units are almost identical with 2016.

The properties going under contract last week ranged from $599,900 up to $12,000,000.  Inventory levels are still low for this time of year with only 11 new properties coming to market in the last week.  The summer crowds are steadily trickling in, but some winter-like weather has come in as well, with snow expected for this evening and tomorrow. 

New Listings     Price Changes       In Escrow     Closed Escrow

Dave had a great week closing on #22 Alpine Terrace for his Buyers. We listed a nicely maintained single-family property with lakeviews at 922 Dorcey, which will be hitting the market for $585,000. The property is in the process of being prepared for sale with photos coming soon.  We anticipate having the listing up and running on the Incline Village MLS sometime in the next few days.

There are 2 new listings on the Incline Village real estate scene that grab our attention.  Condo shoppers looking for a warm, nicely refurbished lakeview property will want to consider 400 Fairview, Unit #79 in the Bitterbrush complex.  This is a two-bedroom, 2 bath, 1,307 square-foot property with a one car attached garage.  The spacious living area features an open truss ceiling along with a gas log river rock fireplace and expansive views of Lake Tahoe off of the deck.  In the master suite, enjoy a well appointed and newly updated master bath with beautiful finishes throughout.  Offered at $580,000.

Nestled between the trees, you will love to entertain in the unique and remodeled home at 825 Jeffrey in the Jennifer Subdivision.  Built in 1979 with a mountain style flair, you'll find 2,450 SF of living space in which to roam with soaring windows in the great room allowing for plenty of natural light.  The floor plan boasts 3 bedrooms, 3 full bathrooms, family room, loft, large master suite with generous sitting area, a well sized dining area, and an attached two-car garage.  Offered for $890,000.

If you are planning to look at Incline Village real estate while visiting Lake Tahoe this summer we would be happy to show you the best values that meet your criteria.  While new listings are coming on the Incline Village MLS every week we are seeing multiple offers on a more frequent basis.  The best way to avoid a bidding war is to let us know what type of property you are seeking so we can network with the other agents and find you a great property before it ever hits the market.

Please be careful when you are driving around Lake Tahoe this summer.  We anticipate more visitors than at any time in the past 5 years.  While the roundabouts in Kings Beach and Spumoni Circle in Incline Village help to keep traffic moving, please remember to yield to cars that are already in the roundabouts before you enter.  A little bit of courtesy will prevent accidents and get everyone to their destination just a bit quicker.

Incline Village Real Estate Blog 5/6/17

The Incline Village real estate market had a little something for everyone in the past week, and the title companies haven’t had time to slow down.  Another 7 properties closed escrow and 11 properties went into escrow with 9 of them being single-family homes.

There were 30 new listings on the Incline Village real estate scene in the past 7 days.  Our team listed 3 properties this past week: 692 Palmer Court #1, #85 Royal Pines, and #48 Cedarcrest.

New Listings     Price Changes      In Escrow    Closed Escrow

692 Palmer Court is a beautifully remodeled townhouse with golf course and lake views being offered for $1,375,000. This 3,290 SF 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom townhouse has been completely renovated with up to date contemporary features. It boasts a redesigned modern kitchen with quartz countertops, oversized bar, and new Kitchen Aid appliances. With vaulted ceilings, the spacious great room is ideal for entertaining and features a modern tasteful fireplace, a formal dining area and large picture window with stunning views of both the Mountain Golf Course as well as Lake Tahoe.

Click here to view the virtual tour: 692 Palmer Court

Unit #85 in the Royal Pines complex is a nicely remodeled unit with high, beamed ceilings, a large room with recessed lighting, gas price place, nice built-ins and storage closets, all being offered for $540,000. It offers a spacious kitchen with granite counters, breakfast bar, gas appliances, oak flooring, fresh pain and great natural lighting. The top floor deck is set over the common area grass with mountain views. This is an end unit on the back side of the complex, across from the gate to the walking path into town.

Click here to view the virtual tour: #85 Royal Pines

Unit #48 in the Cedarcrest complex has just undergone an extensive remodel. It features high, beamed ceilings, a gas fireplace, wood flooring, and new carpet. The spacious kitchen is complete with slab granite counters, breakfast bar, gas appliances, wood flooring, and new cabinetry. Overlooking deck off the main living area, great for summer barbecues. Two-car attached garage with extra storage closets off the back, making storage space ample. Being offered for $509,000.

Click here to view the virtual tour: #48 Cedarcrest

Buyers who are contemplating purchasing Incline Village real estate this year may wish to make a trip up during the month of June before the summertime crowds arrive.  A lot of good properties have come on the market in just the past 2 weeks.  The weather is beautiful, lots of hiking trails are now free of snow and you won’t have to compete with a bunch of other buyers just yet…

Have a great week!

 - Cole

Agents Need to Know the Inventory

As we move toward the busy summer season, a lot of new listings will be coming on the market each week.  In order for agents to do a good job helping their buyers they have to familiarize themselves with every property that is listed for sale.  Since the Incline Village / Crystal Bay real estate market is characterized by custom homes, it is imperative for agents to visit each property and learn as much as they can about the particular features and attributes.  This can be done by making the rounds on the MLS tour on Tuesdays or previewing properties in advance of showing them to prospective buyers.

One of the biggest problems we experience with agents who do not work full-time in our community is their lack of specific knowledge about the properties for sale.  It's impossible to do a good job representing a buyer if you are not educated as to the particular nuances that you will find at each place.  Attributes such as the floor plan, interior quality, lot lines, sun exposure during each of the seasons, ease of driveway access, proportionality of the rooms and many other features can only be ascertained by visiting a property and spending enough time there to absorb everything.

Buyers routinely do searches on the Internet where they see lots of pictures and virtual tours.  But these images only tell part of the story.  Whether a property suffers from a lot of street noise, unruly neighbors, long flights of stairs or other possible negative situations can only be learned while at the property.  Even condos with identical floor plans in the same complex can have radically different locations and views resulting in a significant difference in desirability and market value.

Just last week we got a phone call from an out of area agent who was trying to show a property and they claimed the key did not work.  It turns out the agent was on Apollo Court when the house for sale was located around the corner on Apollo Way.  Now, anyone can make a mistake or get a bit confused by the streets in our community.  But, if the agent knew the inventory, they would have realized immediately when they arrived at the wrong house that it was not the correct property.

Most buyers have very specific criteria that are important to them.  The only way that agents can show the most appropriate properties to each of their buyers is to be intimately familiar with each place before they show it.  Buyers can get discouraged quickly if they are shown one property after another that holds no interest for them.  Realistically, most buyers can only absorb looking at between 6 and 8 properties in one day.  Trying to show too many properties can lead to confusion and an inability to differentiate between all of the different places they have seen.  Yet agents unfamiliar with the inventory will often take a shotgun approach hoping something hits.

So, it behooves agents to not only learn the inventory but only show properties in the areas where they have detailed knowledge of the houses and condos for sale.  With the average price in Incline Village and Crystal Bay being significantly higher than most other Northern Nevada communities, out of area agents are attracted to doing business here.  However, their lack of familiarity with the individual properties and subdivisions makes them a liability, not an asset to their clients.  We have learned that it is better to refer our buyers to agents in other communities who have detailed knowledge of the inventory in their local market and to concentrate our efforts on the areas we know best.


Weekly Real Estate Update

Statistics gathered from the Incline Village MLS on 4/23/17

                                                    Houses                Condos                     PUDs

For Sale                                         93                       47                         23

Under $1 million                           15                         38                          7

 Median Price For Sale          $2,150,000            $535,000                $1,325,000

YTD Sales 2017                            32                         44                          9

YTD Sales 2016                            39                       41                         12

New Listings                                 13                     

In Escrow                                       9                          

Closed Escrow                               6                                                           

Range in Escrow        $327,800 - $35,000,000

These statistics are based on information from the Incline Village Board of REALTORS® or its Multiple Listing Service as of April 23, 2017

 

 

Writing Tips for Writing Offers in 2017

With sales activity moving along at a steady pace, buyers will want to pay careful attention to establishing reasonable time frames when writing an offer this year.  The Incline Village Board of Realtors purchase agreement provides for a number of contingencies during the escrow period.  It behooves buyers and their agents to group contingency deadlines together so that the escrow process is easier to manage and you don't have a deadline coming due every couple of days. 

Most lenders are currently taking between 30 days and 40 days to get a loan approved. While it’s possible to get a loan approved and documents drawn up more quickly, it’s better to have a realistic time frame and avoid the need for requesting an extension on the deadline.  Setting the appraisal contingency removal somewhere between 21 and 30 days should provide enough time to get this important element of the purchase process completed.

As a general rule of thumb, buyers who are paying all cash can shorten the contingency removal periods because you will not have to deal with a lender and all of their time-consuming requirements.  It’s possible to close escrow in as little as 5 to 10 days if everyone has their ducks lined up on an all cash transaction. For purchases involving a loan, it is better to establish a 35 to 45 day escrow period so that you are not continually asking for extensions from the seller.

Home inspections are a critical part of the due diligence that each buyer performs when purchasing a property. Allow enough time to get the inspections performed, reports written, estimates completed and then a few days to contemplate and analyze the results. Generally speaking all of this can be performed in 14 to 21 days depending on the size and condition of the property, weather and snow conditions and the availability of personnel needed to do the inspection work and estimates.

Some items for which the title and escrow company will be taking primary responsibility include providing a preliminary title report, escrow instructions, and Homeowners Association documents such as CC&Rs, financial statements, Board of Directors minutes, etc.  While the title companies do their best to provide all of these documents as expeditiously as possible, condo buyers are very often at the mercy of the HOA or their management firm to get the needed materials. Rushing this process usually ends up with the need to write an extension. We recommend that you allow at least 10 days to acquire, review and approve (or disapprove), escrow documents and extend this timeframe to 15 to 21 days if you are requesting documents from a Homeowners Association.

Buyers can write offers in a way that group contingency removals so that deadlines fall on days 10, 15, and 21 (with loan approval possibly being longer). This way you only have to worry about contingency removals on a few specific dates and have plenty of time to plan for writing an extension on any topic where you do not have all the information necessary to make a decision.

It's imperative that buyers, sellers and their agents stay in constant communication throughout the escrow process to keep things running smoothly and to avoid missed deadlines. Every escrow will have some type of issue or problem that needs to be dealt with. So, having a well-established timeline where the contingency removals are handled in an organized and coherent manner will keep everyone on the same page and the transaction flowing smoothly.

 

Weekly Real Estate Update

Statistics gathered from the Incline Village MLS on 3/25/17

                                                    Houses                Condos               Free-Standing

For Sale                                         87                        38                         21

Under $1 million                           15                          28                          8

 Median Price For Sale           $2,100,000           $564,000                 $1,150,000

YTD Sales 2017                            23                          36                         6

YTD Sales 2016                            28                        30                         6

 New Listings                                10                     

In Escrow                                        7                         

Closed Escrow                                1                                                           

 Range in Escrow        $499,000 - $1,650,000

These statistics are based on information from the Incline Village Board of REALTORS® or its Multiple Listing Service as of March 25, 2017

What Buyer's Are Seeking This Year

Demand remains strong for properties in Incline Village and Crystal Bay. The fairly low level of inventory has resulted in a shortage of particular types of properties in our market. Most buyers would prefer to have a low to moderate elevation house or condo. And this is where we have a lack of inventory, especially in some particularly desirable locations.

 

For example, there are no 3 bedroom condos currently available for sale in McCloud or Third Creek. At Mountain Shadows there are only 2 places currently listed for sale. In these 3 complexes combined there are only 7 properties currently listed on the MLS. But last year these 3 developments accounted for a total of 51 transactions. With condo sales in 2017 well ahead of last year’s pace, buyers are chomping at the bit for condos in good locations at low elevation. Owners in McCloud and Third Creek who have been thinking about selling may wish to put them on the market in 2017. Prices are up significantly in the past 2 years and the shortage of inventory makes it a seller’s market in both complexes.

 

Most buyers prefer a property that has been updated or at the minimum well maintained. They are also willing to pay a premium for low elevation properties that have a modicum of privacy. Houses and condos that are near a creek, U.S. Forest Service land or have some other type of buffer from the neighbors sell quicker and for higher prices. Most buyers are coming here from urban areas and many of them would prefer to have some space between their place and the folks next door.

 

Whether a buyer prefers a single-family home or a condo is very much a personal decision. A significant percentage of buyers who are purchasing a vacation home, lean towards condos for a number of reasons. Usually the Homeowner’s Association will take care of exterior maintenance, landscaping, snow removal, roof repairs, etc. This relieves the vacation home owner of the burden to maintain these aspects of the property. Buyers who want more space for family gatherings and don’t want any shared walls will tend to focus on freestanding condos and single-family houses.

 

News Flash: RE/MAX North Lake is proud to announce that Sabrina Belleci is now the majority owner and managing broker of the Incline Village office. Sabrina will be in charge of all day-to-day operations and oversee the management and strategic planning at RE/MAX North Lake.

 

Don Kanare will retain his broker license but is transitioning into a new role. Don will focus his efforts on being a mentor, negotiator and advisor to the business along with working closely with a select group of clients. Don will continue to work with Sabrina as co-author of this weekly column along with creating content for the InsideIncline.com web site.

 

The RE/MAX North Lake office recently underwent extensive remodeling under Sabrina’s watchful eye. The new contemporary style incorporates decorative elements focusing on Lake Tahoe and the beautiful surroundings. The new furnishings create a warm and inviting feel for agents and clients alike.

 

We invite you to stop by our office at 923 Tahoe Blvd. – #101 and congratulate Sabrina on her new role as managing broker and majority owner of RE/MAX North Lake.

 

Weekly Real Estate Update

Statistics gathered from the Incline Village MLS on 3/19/17

Houses                Condos                     PUDs

For Sale                                       89                        39                         16

Under $1 million                         17                          30                         7

Median Price For Sale          $1,998,000           $560,000                  $1,099,000

YTD Sales 2017                           23                         36                          5

YTD Sales 2016                           27                       27                         6

New Listings                                 6         

In Escrow                                      9

Closed Escrow                              9

Range in Escrow                  $299,000 – $4,260,000

These statistics are based on information from the Incline Village Board of REALTORS® or its Multiple Listing Service as of March 19, 2017

Make A List Before Listing Your Property

With Spring just a week away, this is the time of year when sellers began to contemplate whether or not to put their property on the market. Due to the seasonal nature of visitor traffic at Lake Tahoe and the concomitant increase in real estate sales during the summertime, most sellers put their property up for sale sometime between the beginning of April and the end of July.

Whether or not you put your property up for sale this year is a purely individual decision based on your family and financial situation, the direct competition your property will be facing, the demand for properties similar to yours and whether or not the market supports the price you are seeking.

If you get past the first hurdle and believe that you have a reasonable chance of selling at a fair price in the next 6 to 12 months there are a host of other issues that have to be considered. Take a good look around your property and see if there are items that need to be repaired or anything that could create a hazard to people who are viewing your property. Getting a physical inspection report and a pest inspection report in advance of putting your property up for sale might cost $500 to $1000, but it can uncover maintenance items that you might have missed. Most sellers are not going to repair every little item in advance of putting their property up for sale. But taking care of those “deal killers” in advance of showing your property will make it much more appealing to a greater number of buyers.

Decluttering and staging are critical elements of preparing your property for sale. While many sellers and agents believe they can do an adequate job, the reality is that staging is an art that requires a special talent and vision. It can be difficult for a seller to emotionally detach themselves from the interior flavor they have spent years or even decades creating. A professional home stager brings an objective perspective to creating a warm and inviting feeling without having an emotional attachment to the pre-existing interior design. Many properties that have languished on the market for years sell relatively quickly after getting a visit from a professional stager and sometimes a few minor upgrades.

Creating curb appeal is very important especially since the first picture that most people see on the Internet when looking at properties is the exterior of your house or condo. While you can’t easily change the architecture, there are a number of simple things a seller can do to make your property create a great first impression. Repair any glaring deficiencies to the exterior such as loose trim, cracked steps or driveways, missing shingles or anything that is obvious. Consider painting or staining the exterior if there is evidence of weathering. Remove dead branches from trees and prune vegetation as necessary. Touch up the landscaping so it always looks well maintained.

Working closely with your agent to put together a comprehensive marketing plan is an important piece of the puzzle. Each property should be analyzed for its special attributes and features. Then your agent will be able to create a marketing strategy and promotional materials that will help you sell your house or condo. Buyers generally see only what is on the surface when making a first visit. Promoting attributes such as in-floor radiant heat, upgraded plumbing and electrical systems and other things not readily visible to the naked eye will help buyers appreciate the value added features of your property.

 

Weekly Real Estate Update

Statistics gathered from the Incline Village MLS on 3/12/17

Houses                Condos                     PUDs

For Sale                                       92                        39                         16

Under $1 million                         15                          31                         8

Median Price For Sale          $1,995,000           $558,000                  $1,099,000

YTD Sales 2017                           21                         31                          4

YTD Sales 2016                           25                       23                         6

New Listings                                10         

In Escrow                                      4

Closed Escrow                              4

Range in Escrow                  $459,500 – $4,250,000

These statistics are based on information from the Incline Village Board of REALTORS® or its Multiple Listing Service as of March 12, 2017

 

What Makes An Agent A Specialist

One of the things that some real estate agents do to differentiate themselves in the marketplace is to take on the moniker of “specialist”.  The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has sponsored or recognized many certifications over the years that require specific educational standards in a particular specialty.  Some designations can only be achieved after performing a certain number of sales in a specific market segment.

 

There are widely varying degrees of difficulty to achieve a specialist designation in different areas.  One of the more rigorous programs involves becoming a Certified Residential Specialist (CRS).  To complete this program there are 4 different paths from which to choose.  Each path requires a minimum number of classroom education hours combined with exceeding a threshold for a certain number of transactions or dollar sales volume.

 

Lots of other designations abound including categories for luxury homes, resort properties, etc. Here is a quote from the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing which sponsors the certification for a Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist.  “The Certified Luxury Home Marketing SpecialistTM (CLHMS) designation assures affluent buyers and sellers that real estate professionals have the knowledge, experience, and unique skills to meet their needs. Members of The Institute who hold the CLHMS designation have documented performance in the TOP 10% of their residential markets and have successfully demonstrated their expertise in the luxury home and estate market”.

 

Some agents will call themselves a specialist in a particular area without having achieved any certification that falls under the NAR umbrella.  This is where things get sticky.  If an agent has sold a lot of properties in a particular condo complex or subdivision they will sometimes call themselves a specialist in that area and rightfully so.  They likely have acquired a significant amount of market knowledge specific to that niche and can guide buyers and sellers satisfactorily in that area.

 

However, as the market gets more competitive we are seeing agents promoting themselves as specialists in one area or another without having the requisite knowledge, expertise or sales experience.  In a high-end resort market such as Incline Village we have a lot of luxury homes.  So, some agents will call themselves a “luxury property specialist” when they may have never sold a property that falls into the luxury category.  You can't call yourself a “golf course specialist” when you have never sold a property adjacent to a golf course.  Yet we have seen agents putting these specialist titles on their business cards and marketing materials in an effort to enhance their image and hustle up business.

 

Buyers and sellers are often attracted to doing business with someone who portrays themselves as a specialist in the market segment where they plan to conduct business.  While this is great if you have someone with the qualifications and expertise representing you, it can be a nightmare if you find yourself in a transaction with someone who is using the specialist moniker without possessing the requisite skills and knowledge base.

 

Weekly Real Estate Update

Statistics gathered from the Incline Village MLS on 2/19/17

                                                    Houses                Condos                     PUDs

For Sale                                        97                         39                          16

Under $1 million                          18                           32                         7

Median Price For Sale          $1,998,000            $579,000                  $1,099,000

YTD Sales 2017                           12                           27                         2

YTD Sales 2016                           21                         15                         6

New Listings                                 6                    

In Escrow                                      5                           

Closed Escrow                              5                                                           

Range in Escrow        $349,000 - $1,295,000

These statistics are based on information from the Incline Village Board of REALTORS® or its Multiple Listing Service as of February 19, 2017

 

 

February Market Update

Happy February! Throughout January, Incline Village saw well over 10 feet of snow! For many of the ski resorts around the Tahoe basin, snow totals for January were all-time record breaking. 

January was a great month for the Inside Incline Team as well as for the Incline Village real estate market as a whole. We collectively closed on 5 deals within the first two weeks of the month! We closed our listings at #284 Ski Way Ridge, 696 Bidwell Court, #84 Tahoe Racquet Club, and #43 Pinebrook, as well as our listing at #62 Creekside East, which we double-sided, representing both the listing and selling side. All in all, our sales volume for the month of January totaled $2,182,500! We would like to thank all our clients for their patience through each transaction, we look forward to working with you again in the future!

In total, the Incline Village real estate market saw 10 sales of single-family residences ranging in price from $507,500 for a 4 bedroom, 2 bath, livable fixer-upper at high-elevation to $1,182,500 for 2,500 square foot lakeview home in Crystal Bay on HWY28. We have also seen the sale of 1 freestanding condo in the Incline Creek Estates subdivision that sold for $1,389,500. In the condo market, we have seen 17 sales ranging in price from $150,000 for a 1 bedroom, 1 bath, 600sqft apartment-style condo, to $975,000 for a 1,200sqft peek of the lake condo at the prestigious 999 Lakeshore address. 

As we will be quickly approaching the Spring months (fingers crossed for more winter!), Buyer's are currently finding they have attractive negotiating power as opposed to waiting until the Summer months, where prices will generally be pushing 5-10% higher and a "buyer-frenzy" will be taking place for under-priced properties. 

4 Ways Tech is Used in Real Estate

You may not think "real estate" when you think about modern technology, but several advances are making the lives of homebuyers, home sellers, and agents a lot easier – not to mention adding peace of mind with added security measures. Here are a few.

1. Drones

Fitting a small camera onto a helicopter drone lets agents capture aerial images of homes, properties and neighborhoods to feature in sales listings. Drones can also be useful for checking out things like roof damage without a ladder. The Federal Aviation Administration loosened its guidelines on commercial uses for drones in June, making it easier for more agents to adopt the technology.

2. Digital signature platforms

Years ago, an agent could spend hours driving back and forth to collect buyer and seller signatures on forms. Today, they can toss their pens and manage everything from the office – or wherever they may be – thanks to digital signing platforms. The government passed laws that make electronic signatures as valid as physical signatures. Platforms like DocuSign let agents securely send documents for clients to authorize with a simple click on a computer – or a phone.

3. Electronic lockboxes

Smart lockboxes on homes have several features that can make showing a home more secure. These new boxes allow smart phones to work as keys, which means they also can track who enters and leaves the home. Some boxes can also be programmed to host real-time information about the home and the neighborhood which visitors can access using their smart phones.

4. Wireless video monitors

Security cams help agents (and homeowners) keep an eye on vacant properties without having to physically stop by to check things out. Cameras can provide interior and exterior views, allowing agents and homeowners to monitor everything from maintenance issues, like whether leaves or mail deliveries are piling up on the porch, to basic security, like seeing if someone is parked outside.

"The Week in Review" - 1/29/17

The clearing of the skies and bluebird days summed up this week around Lake Tahoe. The snow removal companies around Incline Village were able to get some much needed catching up done and the roads are finally starting to melt off in town. We've been seeing many homeowners choose to contract snow removal companies to shovel off their roofs as a preventative measure. A good indicator of whether or not the snow is too heavy for your home's structure is to open all exterior doors one-by-one and ensure they all open smoothly without feeling like they are extra tight or hard to get open. If any exterior door is hard to open this is a surefire sign that the heavy snow on the roof is causing stress on supporting beams. If you do choose to contract a snow removal company to shovel off your roof, always be sure to have them sign a waiver of liability; climbing on a roof is dangerous, climbing on a snow and ice covered roof is even more dangerous. 

This week in the Incline Village real estate market we saw 1 new single-family home have an accepted offer and 2 single-family homes close escrow ranging in price from $751,800 - $870,000 . We also saw 1 new freestanding condo come on the market, 101 Red Cedar Dr. Unit #16 in the Crystal bay Palisades, listed for $1,099,000. Finally we saw 1 freestanding condo close escrow for $1,330,000.

In the Incline Village condo market we saw 1 new property come onto the market, Unit #134 in the Bitterbrush complex on the upper-side with no lakeview, but with great mountain views of Diamond Peak for $459,500. This week we have also seen 4 new condos enter into escrow ranging in price from $309,000 for a Mountain Shadows unit to $525,000 for a McCloud unit near the beach. Finally, we saw 3 condos close escrow this week ranging from a $277,000 for a 2/1 in Incline Manor to $485,000 for a Royal Pines unit. 

As always, I wish everyone a successful week filled with happiness, health and wealth. Check back next Sunday, February 5th, for the next Week in Review. 

- Cole Mizak REALTOR

 

Explore Tahoe: This is Definitely the Winter to Pick Up Snowshoeing

We all know the saying, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!” which can be applied to all the snow we have been blessed with this past month.

We needed a good winter and it appears we got it, no matter what happens the next three months. But dealing with all the snow, while trying to go about daily business, can become tiresome.

I can’t keep up with all the ice, the snow banks along my driveway are over my head and every little errand becomes a battle of the elements. As if that weren’t enough, I am a creature who needs the sun, much like a lizard.

So what to do? Besides go skiing, which is certainly phenomenal right now. I know people who hit the slopes every day but I don’t have time for that. My solution is to conquer the snow in a small way by stomping through it, with snowshoes, of course.

Snowshoeing requires only a minimal investment in equipment and can be done for short periods of time or all day, if you’re feeling ambitious.

It can be extremely strenuous, when struggling uphill and/or in deep snow, or relatively easy on a well-formed trail in flatter terrain.

The hike I go on is the same winter and summer, out my back door and head up the hill, with a mixture of up and down and level stretches for resting. Round trip is 1.25 miles, but most often, I do the loop more than once up to about four miles. When I’m on snowshoes, one loop is usually enough.

The big storm two weeks ago put down at least two feet in one night at my house. Knowing I would be coming back to hours of snow removal, I nevertheless set off on snowshoes to see how far I could get.

The answer is: not very far! After that storm, it took me four attempts to go the distance of a little over a mile. Once the trail is broken, it’s easy. I head out early morning and again in the evening, working to improve the trail with each pass.

Trekking poles are helpful in keeping your balance, especially if you find yourself in a place where you are breaking trail. Slogging through deep snow is hard work, so make sure you are physically prepared.

Fortunately, there is no need to build your own trail — there are places to go to snowshoe along formed trails, such as the Mountain Sports Center at Camp Richardson in South Lake Tahoe, where you’ll find easy trails along the shore of Lake Tahoe.

A trail pass is $12 but if you don’t have your own gear, pony up an addition $7 and get snowshoes to use for the day. Here you can also cross country ski or go sledding, equipment available in the store.

For a long walk on an easy trail, try Echo Lakes trail, 8 miles round trip with only 400 feet elevation gain. To get there, take Highway 50 West from South Lake Tahoe through Meyers and turn right onto Johnson Pass Road and park near the Echo Chalet. You could easily spend the day out there so pack a lunch and dress in layers.

The beauty of being out in nature on snowshoes is many-fold. There are the trees, covered with snow and views of the lake. If you pick the right spot, you’ll find the quiet of the forest with only the sound of your shoes crunching on the snow.

Since you’re moving slowly through the terrain, you have time to smell the fresh air and be on the lookout for birds, squirrels, and mountain cottontails.

Given our unusual lack of sunlight, and the mountains of snow, it will do your spirit good to get out and do a bit of conquering, even if you make your way to a groomed trail.

For those who enjoy outdoor activities in a group, consider joining one of the natural history snowshoe hikes coming up in February, sponsored by Tahoe Institute for Natural Science (TINS) taking place during the Alpenglow Mountain Festival, February 25th and 26th.

The hike on February 25th takes place at Page Meadows in Tahoe City, led by Will Richardson of TINS.

A second hike on February 26th takes place at Tahoe Meadows to Chickadee Ridge, led by Sarah Hockensmith of TINS. Visit tinsweb.org or alpenglowsports.com for more details and to register by February 1 for either hike.

Plan on about three hours for these guided hikes. Bring water and snacks, wear warm clothing, thick socks, and mittens or gloves and your own snowshoes.

Article curtesy of North Lake Tahoe Bonanza contributor, Toree Warfield. 

Marketing: Important to You, Your Business, and Your Clients

Marketing, the central aspect in every element of sales no matter what the good or service. From the time we were all young, everything we have ever wanted, or felt that we “needed”, revolved around the way we were marketed to. Marketing professionals pay great levels of attention to minuet details in all four major areas of demographic, psychographic, behavioral and geographic characteristics that make up their target market.

 

Some questions you should ask yourself may be; who are my target market, where do members of my target market come from geographically, how old are these members, how educated are these members, why would members of this market feel a need/want for my product or service and why would my product or service specifically be enticing to them, what complementary/supplementary products or services are of interest to them? These questions are but a few of the hundreds or even thousands of questions that true marketing industry professionals ask when designing a marketing campaign. We are all in business to offer a world-class product or service, and if we can’t get our product or service out to the world, our overall level of success is already at a disadvantage. For those of us in the Real Estate industry, our product is the service that we offer in expertise from the front door to the back fence; we are experts in all areas of a client’s home. Aside from the generic line I have been seeing all too often lately, “Expert in services for both buyers and sellers,” we do far more than what meets the eye. However, due to insufficient marketing slogans like the one I have just mentioned, how many REALTORS© have lost out on profitable listings because their presentation or offerings were not top notch?

 

Our clients want you to instill faith into them that you will do the best possible job handling, marketing, and selling their home. By now we all should be well aware of who our direct competition are and exactly what marketing techniques they are advertising so that we can be a step ahead. When, “Stacking the Cool,” as Real Estate coach Tom Ferry likes to call it, we lay out all the elements we will use to market a client’s property to the largest audience possible. The larger the audience, the larger the possibility is of the property selling in the shortest amount of time and for the highest possible price, we all can have what we want! Without a well thought out and professionally crafted marketing plan for our clients, how can we ever expect to win listings against agents who are putting in the time and energy? WE CAN’T! It is time for you to step up to the plate and get going in 2017 with a marketing strategy that fits your goal for the new year and aligns with the incremental steps you will need to take, remember, Real Estate is not a sprint, it’s a marathon, enjoy the ride to the top!

 

Each week I will be writing an informational piece on Friday mornings detailing certain aspects of branding, marketing and sales strategies for you to see more success, sooner. As always, continue to tune in each day at www.ColeMizak.com/blog for the latest trends in Real Estate as well as for information for ALL people in all industries to get ahead in their personal and business endeavors.

 

- Cole Mizak REALTOR©

January 2017 Housing Report: 4 Things to Know

Home sales finished strong in December, helping make 2016 the best year for U.S. home sales since the recession, according to the January 2017 RE/MAX National Housing Report, an analysis of MLS data from 53 metro areas. In fact, home sales in 2016 were the highest in the housing report's eight-year history. Here are key points from January's report:

1. Homes are still selling fast

In December, homes spent an average of 62 days on the market. That's the shortest time of any December in the report's history.

2. Prices are rising 

The median sales price of a home sold in December was $216,000. That was nearly 5 percent higher than the median sales price in December 2015.

3. Inventory continues to shrink

The inventory of homes for sale dropped nearly 18 percent between last December and December 2015, continuing a year-long streak of double-digit declines. Given the current pace of home sales, the inventory equals 4.2 months of sales. To put that in context, a supply of six months is considered a balanced market between buyers and sellers. In December, 47 of the 53 metro areas surveyed reported a supply of less than 6.0 months. That's usually considered a seller's market.

4. Slightly fewer transactions occurred

The overall average number of home sales fell 1.8 percent compared to December 2015. However, almost half of the 53 metro areas showed an increase in sales year-over-year. Growth in markets across the country was in the double digits. Home sales in the Wilmington/Dover, Delaware market shot up by about 21 percent. Sales in Honolulu, Hawaii grew by 19.7 percent and sales in Augusta, Maine, rose by about 16 percent.

What's the upshot of all this research? "Much like 2015, we saw a mostly healthy housing market in 2016 that posted steady growth in sales and prices," said Dave Liniger, RE/MAX CEO, chairman of the board and co-founder. "We're back to pre-recession levels in many markets, with 2017 forecast to be another solid year. We'll have to wait and see what impact rising interest rates will have." In December, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for only the second time since 2006.

Dig into the details of the January 2017 RE/MAX National Housing Report in the infographic below. You can also read more on the RE/MAX Newsroom.

7 Tips for Holiday Light Cruising

Driving around, admiring the creativity (and craziness) of holiday lights is an all-American tradition that costs less than a Starbucks Gingerbread Latte. Just remember to be courteous while you enjoy the spectacle. For example….

1. Don't block traffic

You may be stunned by 2,000 tiny lights and a 12-foot Santa that waves, but don't stop in the middle of the street. Pull over.

2. Keep off the grass

If you get out of your car to snap a photo or take a closer look, stay on the sidewalk. Not only is it respectful of your neighbor's property, it's also in your best interest – there could be electric chords and other tripping hazards. 

3. Be mindful of your own lights

Avoid shining your headlights directly into the front windows of the home you're admiring. Use your parking lights, if you must.

4. Don't idle (your car)

Don't leave your car idling while you enjoy the display. Global warming hits the North Pole hard.

5. Chip in

Some homeowners leave a donation jar to collect tips to help with the electric bill. If you enjoy the display, consider leaving a few bucks.

6. Don't hog the view

Don't park for too long in front of popular homes. Though you might be inspired to make a holiday phone call or run through all "Twelve Days of Christmas" with the kids, remember that others want to check out the display too.

7. Don't forget other opportunities

Zoos and botanical gardens often host holiday light displays (and offer easier parking).

9 Tips for Creating the Perfect Guest Room

1. Offer reading material

A pile of recent magazines or a shelf of assorted books offers guests a way to wind down before bed.

2. Add flowers

A simple flower arrangement adds class and color to any room.

3. Provide seating

Make sure there's somewhere cozy for guests to sit if they need some alone time during holiday chaos.

4. Make wi-fi connection easy

Leave a piece of paper with your internet server's name and password on the dresser so guests can easily access your wireless connection.

5. Did they forget something?

Fill a basket with sample-sized containers of essentials, like toothpaste, mouthwash and shampoo.

6. Add a luggage stand

Put out a folding luggage stand where guests can prop their suitcases to avoid having to squat all the way down to the floor every time they need something.

7. Make the closet functional

Be sure to stock the closet with empty hangers for guest's clothes.

8. Add charm with decorations

Create a welcoming, calm space for guests. Err on the side of generic. Remember, not everyone wants to sleep surrounded by Star Wars-themed decorations or your horror movie poster collection.

9. A picture perfect welcome

Place a framed photo of you and your guest on the nightstand.

6 Ways to Prep Your Yard for Winter

You may still be picking your final tomatoes and enjoying the last flower blooms but it's time to take care for those pre-winter tasks that will help make next year's yard and garden even more lovely. Here's a list to hit before the snow starts falling.

1. Take care of those bald spots 

Overseeding bald spots in the fall is like Rogaine for your lawn. Autumn's a good time for aerating, too.

2. Leave ornamental grass alone

Don't cut back the tops of ornamental grasses before early spring. The top growth helps insulate the root, keeping the source of next year's growth nice and snug.

3. Empty the tank

Store your mower with an empty tank over the winter. Have a bit of gas left? Mow over the leaves on your lawn for a natural mulch.

4. Speaking of mulch…

Mulching in fall can be even more beneficial for plants than doing it in spring. Spreading two to three inches of mulch around trees and shrubs helps protect roots from frost and helps retain moisture during cold, dry winter months.

5. Maintain your hose and pipes

Drain your hoses and store them in the basement, shed or garage. Blow out your sprinkler system. Drain your water features. Stash watering cans, especially galvanized steel cans, indoors. Water left over the winter can freeze, expand and damage them all.

6. Put the tools to bed

Before storing your garden tools for the winter, clean them off and, if needed, sharpen them. Rub a bit of linseed oil into wooden handles to prevent cracking. When it's time to pull them out in the spring, you'll be ready to go.

A well-kept yard can increase the value of your home. Find out more ways to enhance your investment by talking to Cole today. 


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Doors Opened, Dreams Delivered

5 Reasons School Ratings Matter When House Shopping

Schools can have a big impact on property value and quality of life. If you're buying a home, here are a few reasons local school ratings matter, even if you don't have kids.

1. The next buyer will consider the school ratings, too

According to the 2014 National Association of REALTORS Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 29 percent of homebuyers listed school quality and 22 percent listed proximity to schools as deciding factors in their home purchase. Another survey conducted by Realtor.com showed that 91 percent of the people surveyed included school district boundaries in their decision-making process. You may be surprised to learn that not all of the shoppers involved in the studies had kids.

2. More money spent on schools means more money spent on homes

There's a correlation between school expenditures and home values in any given neighborhood, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Their report, "Using Market Valuation to Assess Public School Spending," found that for every dollar spent on public schools in a community, home values increased $20.

3. Higher school ratings equal higher home values

A Brookings Institution study looked at the 100 largest metro areas in the country and found an average difference of $205,000 in home prices between houses near high-performing and low-performing schools.

4. And good school ratings help homes maintain value

While changes in the economic landscape and local area can ripple across the market, a great school district can sometimes help insulate a home from market fluctuations.

5. Great school districts usually mean great neighborhoods

Often there's a correlation between super school districts and safer neighborhoods, better shopping and transportation and great public amenities – like parks. All of these factors increase the desirability of the neighborhood, which translates to higher home values and a better deal for you when it's time to sell.


Don't forget to connect with me on social media for daily blog updates!

Doors Opened, Dreams Delivered

Study: Are Homes Or Stocks A Better Investment

Although real estate is considered a strong investment, is it smarter to place your funds in stocks than in houses? According to a study by Redfin, stocks showed a higher rate of return than housing investments between January 2010 and May 2016.

The Redfin analysis was completed with investment advisory firm FutureAdvisor and compared gains in home prices with returns on a median stock portfolio in 24 major metro areas. Because the analysis only included certain metro areas, the results can’t be extrapolated to every market.

“A median financial portfolio earned between 63 and 70 percent since 2010 in each of the 24 metros studied” — this was a higher rate of return than housing in every metro studied except four.


The four metros where housing showed a higher rate of return than stocks were:

  • Miami (where home prices increased 73.3 percent)
  • San Jose, California (where home prices increased 74.7 percent)
  • San Francisco (where home prices increased 72.7 percent)
  • Oakland, California (where home prices increased 67.6 percent)

 

“These were all housing markets where prices skyrocketed and crashed the most during the bubble years,” said Redfin.

“There are pros and cons to any investment, but real estate is unique in that it offers the advantage of forced savings through the monthly mortgage payment,” said Redfin chief economist Nela Richardson in a press release.

“The fact that homeowners build an increasing share of equity just by paying their mortgages every month enforces a savings discipline on consumers that is absent in stocks. For this reason, real estate historically has served as the primary engine of wealth creation, particularly for the middle class.”

In most cities, multi-family buildings, condos and co-ops had higher appreciation than single-family homes.

The best time to buy in 2010 was December, with home prices appreciating 46 percent since then, compared to just 36.8 percent for homes purchased in June of that year.

The study used multiple-listing-service data on more than 730,000 property sales during 2010 across 24 metro areas. The company measured price appreciation by using the 2010 purchase price from county records and the June 2016 Redfin Estimate for all home sales, then took the median for each metro.

The study required a minimum sample size of 20 listings for measuring appreciation by property type. FutureAdvisor conducted backtesting of user portfolios as of May 18, 2016, by using asset class-based returns from January 2010 to May 2016 to simulate a percentage return. The company then took a median percent return of the financial portfolios for each metro area.

 

Content curtesy of the Redfin Brokerage

The Election and Incline Village Real Estate

With the election over it's time for Congress to get back to business and do the job that the American people elected them to perform.  Regardless of who was going to win in November, approximately half of the United States population was not going to be happy with the final outcome.  But it's not our job as the writers of this column to pass judgment on the election results.  Our mission this week is to analyze whether or not the recent presidential and congressional elections will have any impact on our local real estate market.

 

As we have written many times in the past, real estate purchases at Lake Tahoe are mostly discretionary.  The vast majority of our buyers come from California with the highest concentration originating from about a dozen distinct geographic areas in Northern California.  Real estate sales at Lake Tahoe are fairly closely tied to the success and condition of the local economies where our buyers reside.

 

Since approximately one half of all the purchases in our market are all cash, interest rates would have to rise significantly for it to have any dampening effect on sales.  It is unlikely we are going to see anything more than a one quarter or one half of a percentage point increase in the federal funds rate between now and the summer of 2017, even if Janet Yellin is replaced. So, there is very little risk that changes in mortgage interest rates will have any significant influence on real estate sales at Lake Tahoe in the near future.

 

We don't see the federal government having any impact on Lake Tahoe real estate sales during the coming year.  The biggest developments facing residents on the North Shore involve Placer County government officials not the folks back in Washington.  It is likely that the courts will have decision-making power that could determine the outcome of the proposed developments in Martis Valley and the ridgeline above Kings Beach and Tahoe Vista.  This story will continue to unfold in 2017 and beyond.

 

The Incline Village / Crystal Bay real estate market has a finite supply of buildable land and 98% of it has already been developed.  There are only a few dozen residential lots not yet built upon.  And there is virtually nowhere to build a large condominium or commercial development unless an existing one is torn down and redeveloped.  There are a handful of vacant commercial parcels along with the old Incline Village Elementary School property that have the potential for significant development.  The latter parcel has been the subject of debate for many years and it's unlikely that anything will take place on that property anytime soon.

 

The net result is that the presidential election of 2016 will have no direct impact on our local real estate market.  While there could be repercussions elsewhere in the country as laws and regulations are changed, real estate life at Lake Tahoe will continue in the usual fashion.  The TRPA and county governments will have far more influence on new projects and redevelopment than anyone in Washington DC.  The one place we would like to see involvement at the federal level affecting a piece of local real estate is the restoration of Incline Lake.  Restoring this little gem and making it available for public use would provide a wonderful recreational amenity for all of us to enjoy.

Weekly Real Estate Update

Statistics gathered from the Incline Village MLS on 11/13/16

                                                    Houses                Condos                     PUDs

For Sale                                       127                        66                        21

Under $1 million                          31                           56                         9

Median Price For Sale          $1,850,000              $529,000              $1,150,000

YTD Sales 2016                          145                        176                        51

YTD Sales 2015                          123                      161                        50

New Listings                                  7                     

In Escrow                                       8                          

Closed Escrow                              10                                                           

Range in Escrow        $150,000 - $1,227,000

These statistics are based on information from the Incline Village Board of REALTORS® or its Multiple Listing Service as of November 13, 2016

 

Virtual Reality in Real Estate

The day many tech lovers have been waiting for is here: Google Daydream View is now available in stores. The new virtual reality headset connects with a smartphone (specifically, Google Pixel) to immerse users in their favorite games, movies or even the latest news story. And at just $79, Daydream is making VR technology more accessible to consumers than ever before. 

But the uses of virtual reality technology go beyond entertainment. Here are a few ways VR is making its way into real estate. 

1. Open houses

Virtual reality headsets, about the size of a scuba mask, can provide 360-degree virtual reality property tours of homes. The headsets completely fill the user's field of vision with a view of the home, allowing them to look up, down and from side to side. Developers are working on adding more tactile features to the experience, so users can do things like see their own hand opening a door, reports the New York Times.They're even developing smells. One day Realtors might be able to add the smell of virtually baking cookies to their virtual open house.

2. Long-distance shopping

Virtual reality home tours give out-of-town buyers (and local buyers, too) another tool to help narrow down their choices of homes they'd like to physically visit in a limited amount of time. 

3. Staging

More affordable than hiring a pro to stage your home, several virtual options allow you to add furniture and decorations to vacant rooms using computer technology. It can help buyers envision a property with different furniture and paint. 

There's a lot more to a real estate transaction than VR goggles can replace. When you're ready to buy or sell your home, work with Cole.