INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. and#8212; Incline Village and Crystal Bay real estate sales are up nearly 20 percent in units this year when compared with the same time frame in 2011. The latest statistics from the Incline Village Board of Realtors MLS as of May 10, 2012 reveal 74 closed escrows versus 62 closed escrows one year ago.
While sales of condos have been skewed towards the lower price ranges as bargain hunters continue to snap up the most attractively priced properties, we are seeing strength across the board when it comes to sales of single-family homes. This is one year when the median price for local property sales is becoming a meaningless statistic due to the extraordinary amount of activity among condos priced under $300,000.
Many people will argue that the direction that the median price is traveling is an indicator for where prices are headed. While this may sometimes be true in certain markets at various time frames, you cannot always look to the median price as an accurate barometer. 29 condos have closed escrow so far this year and all but three of them had final sale prices under $500,000. Of the 30 condos currently in escrow, all of them have asking prices under $420,000.
So, while the median price of the condos that have closed escrow in 2012 is only $245,000 this does not mean that condo prices retreated 30 percent from 2011. Rather, sales activity has been overly concentrated among smaller and lower-priced condominiums. A better indicator of condo prices is the fact that sales in McCloud in 2012 for the 2 bedroom floor plans have ranged between $350,000 and $450,000, the same as last year.
Condo prices are not dropping across the board like they were a couple of years ago. Rather, most condo buyers have become more cautious after the housing bubble burst. This has led many people to purchase more affordable condos rather than stretching to buy the most expensive place they can get a loan on. Also, with some smaller single-family homes now available under $600,000, a percentage of moderate price condo shoppers have switched their attention to purchasing houses.
The real estate market is more fluid now than at any time in recent history. Since vacation home purchases are discretionary, buyers are not locked into a set of parameters the way they would be for a primary residence that must meet certain conditions. Vacation home buyers have a general set of preferences and they are not usually worried about things like commuting time, school district locations and other factors that affect the decision-making process for a primary residence. As a result, vacation home buyers will very often come to Incline Village with a particular type of property in mind only to make significant adjustments after seeing the local inventory.
Sales of single-family homes in Incline Village and Crystal Bay in 2012 have run the gamut from a tear down in the Woods Subdivision selling for the bargain basement price of $200,000 all the way up to the super luxury mansion at 456 Ponderosa Avenue fetching $5,875,000. With 20 percent of the closed escrows this year having final sale prices of $1.4 million or greater, we are seeing a return to a more normal distribution across the price spectrum. And having 30 single-family homes currently in escrow at prices ranging from $379,000 to $6.9 million, sales activity is at its highest level in six years.
The combination of a declining inventory year-to-year, increased sales in units year-to-year and multiple offers for attractively priced properties leads me to believe that our market has stabilized and is beginning to slowly turn upward. There is still softness in some market sectors, especially high elevation homes and high-density condos without garages or amenities. However, quality properties in good locations, especially if they have amenities or a view continue to be in demand. Buyers who are willing to make the trip to Lake Tahoe prior to the busy summer season will have the best variety of houses and condos from which to choose.
and#8212; Don Kanare is a Realtor at RE/MAX Premier Properties. Read his blog and weekly stats on his website at www.InsideIncline.com.