The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped many aspects of California’s real estate market but none is as significant as the impact it’s had on the secondary housing markets in Lake Tahoe and Truckee.
Following a brief period of uncertainty at the early onset of the coronavirus pandemic, when most in-the-works deals fell apart, the Tahoe-Truckee housing market exploded with activity as the adoption of remote-work and distance learning fueled an exodus of Bay Area urbanites moving to the area.
According to Tahoe Mountain Realty, the market was paced by a “sense of immediacy,” with many homebuyers forgoing the comforts of lakefront living for new or move-in ready properties in resort communities around Truckee.
When the dust had settled, some 2,350 total residential transactions were recorded in 2020, a 33% uptick from the previous benchmark of 1,763 residential deals set in 2017. From a dollars-and-cents perspective, the total number of residential sales combined for a record $2.7 billion in total dollar volume, a 79% increase from the previous year and the first time the Tahoe-Truckee market surpassed the $2-billion mark.
Since the close of 2020, low inventory coupled with persistent demand has continued to keep the Tahoe-Truckee housing market active and moving — a phenomenon that is expected to continue in 2021.
“Despite travel restrictions, the market continues to show demand equal to the frenzied conditions of the last six months,” said Jeff Brown, owner of Tahoe Mountain Realty. “Our greatest obstacle remains a dire lack of supply; quality inventory continues to attract hordes of buyers, many of whom are taking action sight-unseen.”
According to Brown, homebuyers were quick to zero in on the area’s newer, amenitized communities such as Truckee’s Northstar and Martis Camp resort developments, which features modern homes tailored for active lifestyles.
Home sales greater than $1 million and $2 million more than doubled in 2020 compared with the previous year. In the exclusive $10-million-plus range, the market held steady when compared with 15-year averages.
Brown expects the increased demand for newer construction will only continue in 2021.
“The focus of the market will continue to be in well-organized resort communities that offer both high-quality structure and community-based programming including trails, fitness facilities and other lifestyle enhancements,” Brown said. “Contemporary design adapted for the mountains remains the overwhelming preference of our consumers.”
While interest in the area has shown no signs of waning, Brown said that a lack of inventory remains the area’s biggest roadblock. Many potential sellers are now empowered by remote-work conditions and more inclined to hold on to their slice of clean mountain living.
“Every year, spring brings new supply to the market as some number of homeowners grow fatigued of winter,” he said. “In 2021, I expect this to be tempered by the sense of security in having a foothold in the mountains given the sanctuary it has provided over the last year.”
Tahoe Mountain Realty is an exclusive member of Forbes Global Properties, a consumer marketplace and membership network of elite brokerages selling the world’s most luxurious homes.