Lake Tahoe Sales Figures Break Previous Records to Date

Lake Tahoe, known as “the Jewel of the Sierra’s”, makes is difficult for anyone to argue that being able to call Lake Tahoe home is like waking up to a dream, every day. Coincidentally, the sales figures from the first quarter echoed this notion that demand for housing is strong. SF Gate reports that in the first quarter of 2021, the Tahoe regional area moved $612 million in inventory. Even with the median home price in Lake Tahoe at $895k according to Redfin, this is still an incredible feat.

The speculation is that many who can work from home as a result of the shift to social distancing due to the pandemic are trading in their city life for a permeant mountain retreat. Some of the properties are even being sold while sales agents and brokers alike utilize FaceTime and virtual tools to show the properties to prospective clients before they submit their offers. Although there has been a gradual shift to digital tools in the real estate industry, the pandemic has only advanced the usage and adoption of these practices.   

Snowflake Lodge, Diamond Peak by Ryan Navarrete

As in Reno, there are only a limited number of properties that can be produced per year. However, there is far less land available in Tahoe and an arduous approval process to construct a home versus that of the Reno market. The scarcity of properties that are available in Lake Tahoe will only further drive the price points higher. For those that do not just have $1 million in liquidity sitting around for a second home in Lake Tahoe, there is still hope.

In South Lake Tahoe, Sugar Pine Village has been approved for a 248-unit project of affordable housing. This is much needed as living in or around resort cities makes housing very difficult for those that seek employment from the companies that provide the amenities that the area has to offer. Whether you choose a lake view or a mountain view, are there really any bad parts about making Tahoe your home? I encourage you to discuss your thoughts below.  

Is There Any Real Value of a Home Inspection?

Some are unfamiliar with the home buying process as for many, it only happens several times in their lifetime. Unlike that of buying another vehicle whereas you have a choice over a used car versus a certified pre-owned car, the repair cost on a home may by far exceed that of the entire purchase of a new car. The home inspection does not alleviate all risks associate with the purchase of an older home, rather it does help mitigate some of the potential issues. After all, you would want to ensure that you are making a wise investment into your future that serves as a dual purpose, a financial investment, and a safe sanctuary for years to come.

The state-certified home inspector will typically investigate the structure itself, plumbing, electrical system, basement, roof, attic, exterior, interior, and many more items. This is to reveal any potential red flags that there may be an underlying issue with the particular home and not just with its aesthetics. Now, this is not to be confused with an appraisal that specifically focuses on the home’s current market value, which is typically utilized for qualifying for a mortgage. After the home inspector reviews the home inspection report with the buyer, you may or may not have items that may be negotiable with the seller dependent on how significant the defects are.

Courtesy of Shutter Stock by Andrey Popov

For a seller, the inspection process may alter the decision to make the necessary repairs before placing their property on the market. It may also ensure that the close of escrow goes as planned with the least number of delays in the processing. A goal of the seller is to present a move-in-ready property that will appeal to potential buyers. Thus, further reducing the time it takes for a buyer to move through their decision-making process and submitting their highest and best offer. Instead of a full inspection, some inspectors also offer the ability of pre-listing home inspections.

Typically, it is the buyer who has the home inspection performed but not always. The inspection is yet another tool in the transaction process to justify any price concession requests that may arise. In your home buying process, did you find the home inspection to be beneficial to the transaction process? I encourage you to discuss why or why not it may have been beneficial below.  

Would You Purchase a Home with Views of Wild Mustangs?

Northern Nevada is one in ten of the only states within the U.S. where you can observe wild mustangs roaming freely amongst the mountainous terrain according to National Geographic. Specifically, in our area, they are best observed during the early morning hours or later in the evening when it has cooled off. Typically, more present in the South Reno and North Valley areas of the high desert community surrounding Reno, Nevada. A subtle reminder that Northern Nevada is still very much part of the great Western Frontier.

Does the question remain on how much more for a property a consumer is willing to pay for the view they receive? This largely varies by location but is still among the top eight factors when deciding to submit an offer as indicated by Open Door Online. The importance of a state-certified appraiser and a local experienced real estate professional ensure that a buyer is receiving the most value for their offer. Of course, the utility of the view is different for all buyers and the luxury of wild mustangs may not be sought after by some.

Courtesy of Shutter Stock by Scenic Corner

The Smithsonian Magazine even went as far as to mention that Nevada is among the best places in North America to see wild mustangs. However, it may be a great selling point for those who truly enjoy seeing the raw natural beauty of nature daily from their own home, not all have the same thoughts. There is a growing concern that the open BLM land can only support up to 27,000 horses safely and there is an estimated 70,000 as of 2017. Unbranded, the independent film has fostered greater awareness for the adoption and safe rehoming of the majestic mustangs.

The New York Times argues that the marketing of the wild mustangs is a form of greenwashing to attract business and homeowners alike. This, to amplify the serenity of health and wellness to be one with nature. Even Elon Musk has utilized it as a selling point for more businesses to consider relocating to the Reno/Tahoe industrial park. Mentioning that surrounding the Giga factory is the sprawling Sierra Nevada Mountain’s and wild horses roaming freely. Would you choose to live in Northern Nevada for the wild Mustangs? I encourage you to discuss it below.

Developers vs. Affordable Housing

Courtesy of Shutterstock by Florin Burlan

On Tuesday, the legislature heard two measures that relate directly to the dire affordable housing situation in Nevada. The first, A.B. 334, relates to land use planning and that under certain situations, “the governing body of a city or county to accept a payment in lieu of the performance of certain obligations or impose a linkage fee on certain developers to pay for the development of affordable housing”. The second, A.B. 331, allows both options from A.B. 334 to be incorporated into localities that have populations greater than 100,000, with a non-punitive target for affordable housing to be executed within a five-year plan.

Although the measures are well-intentioned, they run counterintuitive to facilitating the creation of more homes, let alone affordable ones within the state. The additional costs are then pushed onto the developers that are to construct the homes, only to raise the cost of the final property. Relating to one of my previous blog posts on March 18th, 2021 on resetting property taxes; perhaps it would be beneficial to split it between the two measures for a win-win for all?

Christine Hess, the executive director of the Nevada Housing Coalition echoed that, “even our opposition has noted, there’s not one tool, and in fact, we would consider these two tools pretty small pieces of our ultimate success strategy to tackling affordable housing”. As the housing shortage situation continues to worsen, tensions rise. It will take ongoing negations and heavy collaboration among state officials and developers to arrive at a feasible system of solutions and not one standalone remedy.

The greater question is what would the economic impact be to those who purchase homes in Nevada if all three measures were to be implemented? I can only speculate that they would all marginally increase the funding necessary for the maintenance and buildout of additional affordable housing. And not leaving one industry or individual to bear the brunt of the current housing issues. I encourage you to continue the discussion below.

It’s Finally Spring and There’s Plenty to do Safely in the Regional Area

After all, living in the high desert has its perks. The climate during the Springtime allows for low to high 70’s during most of the day before turning breezy around 5 PM. It is warm enough for a casual brunch outside in midtown at such places as Home Grown Gastropub or Brasserie Saint James. If it is more adventure that you are seeking, then there are even greater options available to you.

Spring skiing and snowboarding in Lake Tahoe is just minutes away from Reno, and without the grueling winter commute up the passes. The closest ski resorts in proximity being Mt. RoseDiamond Peak, and the Northstar California resort. Hiking and biking in downtown Reno are available along the River Walk Trail or if you should be seeking something more challenging then there is the Tom Cooke Trail, the Hunter Creek Trail, and Flume Trail.

Courtesy of Shutterstock by Andrew Zarivny

Reno, the city of many possibilities offers some more unique activities if the above listed types doesn’t seem to pique your interest. For instance, we have one of the world’s largest outdoor climbing walls that offers “164ft of adrenaline-fueled adventure”. And where else can you grab a brew and go ax throwing to let off some steam? Downtown at Reno Axe of course! If you are an early riser, you can make the most out of your day by having the luxury to choose more than one activity to enjoy.

With a small-town feel in a large city, there is certainly no shortage of activities to explore during the Spring season in the Reno-Tahoe regional area. The best part is that nearly all of the above activities are in open-air and outdoor spaces! I encourage you to do something new, something different, and report back to how it went!  

An Increase In Funds for Affordable Housing in the Silver State

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Today, Senator Cortez Masto announced that $6.7 million in housing trust fund grants for affordable housing in the State of Nevada has been secured. This amount is said to be nearly double that of previous aid years and it could not have come at a better time. Specifically, these funds are to be allocated to low and very low-income families. Unlike the gradual increase in Nevada’s minimum wage over the next several years, this capital affords the ability to make a difference in Nevada’s lives, now.

This is in addition to the $10 million in federal housing assistance that seventeen Native and Tribal communities will receive this year alone. The result of the American Rescue Plan of 2021 was passed with other pandemic assistance measures. Jennifer Solis of the Nevada Current notes that “In 2020, an average of 160 Native American and Pacific Islanders experience homelessness out of every 10,000, compared to the national average of 17 out of every 10,000”. The stark reality that even with our hot real estate market in Northern Nevada, there are sizable income gaps when attempting to secure safe and affordable housing.

Nationally, we have a shortage of an average of seven million rental homes as indicated by Christine Serlin in her recent article in Affordable Housing Finance. Alarmingly, there are usually only about four houses available for ten of the extremely low-income families. Often leaving them with no other option but to use up to fifty percent or more of their income and forcing them to choose between housing or putting food on their table.

Although the recent rounds of stimulus packages did lend immediate aid to some of the most critically affected, they have only pushed an ongoing problem further down the timeline. The pandemic has brought awareness to just how delicate some communities are and that we need to do more to bridge the gap in socioeconomic levels. This is not to say individuals should become dependent on this aid but we all need help every now and then. Lending aid in tandem with educating those who need it is a good first step. Has there been an aid program in particular that you believed worked better than another? I encourage you to comment below.

A Hot Sellers’ Market but with Competing Issues

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Shortages of the residential home inventory in Nevada, although beneficial to sellers, have only fueled the elevated list price. Even homeowners that are seeking to downsize are often faced with the fact that lesser homes than what they currently occupy are closing well above what they can afford. Preventing them from listing their current property at all as they are burdened with relocating far outside the city limits or trying to manage their current mortgage.

On Saturday, March 27, Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford and real estate company Homie held a webinar to assist Nevada homeowners that were in forbearance. Reflecting on the 2008 market crash, this was a means to lend aid to those in need before it is too late and in hopes of prevent foreclosed properties from affecting the market. Surprisingly, during the pandemic, many foreclosures have been avoided and that can be attributed to the various financial resources that the local and state governments have offered, but what happens when that ends?

Fortunately, there are several avenues of aid that current homeowners can utilize such as the Home Again ProgramThe Homeowner Connect, and HUD-approved counselors. It is never the situation any homeowner wants to be in. In addition to the affordability issues, some matters are further adding to the inflation costs of new homes. For instance, the price of lumber is up nearly 215% and a lottery system has been established as lumber mills were shut down during the peak of the pandemic.

As with the sharp rise in value in any commodity such as building materials, thieves are looking to illegally sell on the secondary market. As the builders of Woodside Homes in Nevada soon found out as they were recently victims of lumber theft of an estimated ten-thousand dollars. Unfavorable situations like material theft not only increase the strain on builders but also those who are attempting to purchase the final product as builders try to maintain their margins. Do you feel that there will be a wave of foreclosures and if so, why? I encourage you to discuss it below.  

Carson City, A Great Place to Retire

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As some of us adult children progress through our lives and professional careers, retirement seems far off. However, as we graduate to new chapters in our life, so do our aging parents. I have had the pleasure of speaking with both of mine in great detail about what they want out of life during their retirement and what financially makes the sense. Healthcare, housing and taxes are all primary deciding factors.

Some parents choose to live closer to their children while others choose to continue their lifestyle from afar. It is not uncommon for our parents to downsize and relocate to areas that are more favorable to what they desire. Northern Nevada has much to offer as there is no income tax, we are close to Lake Tahoe, flights are easy, and we have a few major cities that still have a sleepy town feel. For example, Carson City boasts all of the above amenities and still has affordable housing that well distanced from your neighbors.

Carson City offers a robust system of hiking trails, minutes from dozens of local and regional events, all four seasons, and is easily navigable. Recently, the insurance company Insurify rated Carson City as one of the top retirement destinations. They based their study on the affordability of housing, access to healthcare, life expectancy, low rate of poverty, crime statistics, and passenger and diver safety. Only about twenty percent of the city is comprised of those who are retired, so there is a good demographic balance for all who choose to call the city home.

The city’s outskirts even offer acreage if need be, with only about a twenty-minute drive for groceries or to have a quaint night out on the town. Further offering activities for those who are very active to those who just want to sit back, and watch the world go by. With a humble and relaxed atmosphere, its hard to go wrong with retirement in Carson City. What other cities have you or your parents viewed as options to retire in and why? Please comment and share below.

Can There Be a Balance Between Preserving Downtown Reno and New Development?

Downtown Reno, Truckee River courtesy of Shutterstock by Rigucci

Housing in Northern Nevada is short, very short to say the least. Those who seek to relocate to our high desert oasis soon find out, the difficulties of securing housing can be daunting. Many new construction projects are popping up across Washoe County and unfortunately, some come at the cost of the removal of existing features that make Reno, well Reno. Specifically, I am referring to the construction that has begun at the corner of Washington Street and Riverside Drive in downtown Reno.

Many have come to know this area as it has a small park on the triangle-shaped lot, that is also home to parking for Dorinda’s ChocolatesBeaujolais, and Hub Coffee Roasters. A great place to sample the latest confections, catch up on one’s studies while enjoying a craft coffee, and one of the few places you can find great French cuisine. Just across from the lot is a casual winding street, the Truckee River, and a network of quaint shaded walking paths.

Keeping true to the motto, “Biggest Little City in the World”, it does just that. It has components of a major city and yet has the charm of a sleepy town. Having been raised in both San Francisco and Clayton California, I can tell you that it’s a great mix of both. Midtown has been able to add housing while ensuring that the natural allure of the area is preserved if not enhanced. So why is Urban Lion taking away the park, some trees, and the lot that affords easy access to the above businesses?

A News 4 recent report indicated that Reno residents are concerned with the impact on parking for the successful businesses besides the loss of the park and the removal of several trees, some as old as 100-years. Urban Lion indicated that they were to take down up to nine trees, however, some are to be relocated to be saved. Three of the oldest trees according to Naomi Duerr (Reno City councilwoman) will need to be taken down for the new development of the 34- multi-family units. Is there a compromise between building new housing and preserving downtown Reno? I encourage you to discuss it below.

Is Your Nest as Updated as You’d Like it?

Being home more than we are accustomed to brings awareness to many things, such as the amenities we surround ourselves with and the age of the space we live in. As some businesses close, others thrive during the pandemic. Most notable, that of home improvement has boomed as a result of individuals and families staying home more than they normally would. At the top of the list is home remodeling followed by an increased interest in pools, spas, and new furniture.

Realtor magazine surveyed its readers and has revealed that roughly fifty-four percent of individuals invested in new furniture at the very least and up to forty-eight percent of respondents on new appliances. There is some speculation that the furniture expenditures may be related to the purchase of new office furniture as not all were prepared, nor allowed to work from home. Of the top inspiring reasons for the spending was attributed to fifty-seven percent seeking greater comfort out of their space and roughly thirty-eight percent to improve the atmosphere of the home.

Additionally, in-ground pools nationwide have jumped as high as twenty-one percent when compared to the previous year. The pool and spa industry has not seen a jump in their industry of this magnitude since 1963. Since the portability, the cost, and the maintenance of hot tubs are much less than pools, they have experienced a sizable demand increase as well. Some regions reporting up to six-month wait for units and up to a four-hundred percent increase in sales volumes.

Of course, there is an added benefit to investing in such features as if they are built-in, can augment the value of a home if it should be listed. Relator Magazine noted that a prior year survey by Lending Tree revealed that homes with pools on average could be valued up to fifty-four percent higher than those without. In Northern Nevada, it is not as common to see homes with pools, however many do have hot tubs due to our inclement weather. If you had the opportunity to add a pool or hot tub to your property in Northern Nevada, would you and why? Please comment below.

Courtesy of Shutterstock by Rasulov