Don Kanare
Special to the Bonanza

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May 28, 2012
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Incline Village real estate: Buyers need to search creatively

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — With approximately 350 houses, condos and freestanding condos currently for sale at the start of June 2012, buyers have a wide selection from which to consider making a purchase. Since we do not have any tract housing and virtually all of our single-family residences are custom homes, buyers who are patient will eventually find the combination of location, floor plan, view and price range they are seeking.

The vast majority Incline Village and Crystal Bay real estate buyers have their primary residence located outside of the area. It's not often that we have a first time buyer looking in our community, so most people are familiar with the property search process. There are a number of factors that can make finding just the right place challenging in our local market. With all of the different subdivisions, elevation differences, snowfall variations, background noise issues among other things, it's not a simple matter of just looking on the Internet for a place with the right number of bedrooms and bathrooms that fits your budget.

The Incline Village Board of Realtors MLS is divided into several different categories and it's important to search everyone that is applicable to your personal situation. While most agents will set up property searches for a typical buyer in the three main categories which include houses, condos and freestanding condos (also known as PUDs for Planned Unit Development), the investment residential and Tenant in Common (TIC) categories are also worth monitoring.

A couple of weeks ago a duplex came on the market on the lower part of Golfer’s Pass Road priced around $369,000. The listing agent correctly categorized this property in the investment residential section of the MLS. Only a very small percentage of buyers are actively seeking investment residential properties, most are looking in the house, condo and freestanding condo categories. So, the only buyers who received e-mail notification of this value priced duplex were the ones who had agents that were creative enough to search investment residential properties.

Had this property been categorized as single-family residential it would have gotten an enormous amount of interest based on how it looked on paper. Five bedrooms, four full baths, one car attached garage, a large level lot approximately 1/3 of an acre in size and more than half of the place had been very nicely remodeled. You won't a house or PUD with those features at a moderate elevation anywhere near this price range in this nice condition. But a property search that included only houses and freestanding condos would have missed this one.

It's important for agents and buyers to cast a wider net when searching for properties in our local market. Occasionally, a property with the attributes a buyer is seeking will be listed in a category other than where they have focused their primary search. Many out of area buyers are only used to seeing houses and condos and are not familiar with the large variety of freestanding condo developments that we have in Incline Village. It requires the skills of a professional agent to educate buyers about this category of properties that could very well contain something of interest.

Free standing condos can be very attractive to a vacation home buyer because they often combine the best elements of a single-family home and a condo. Most freestanding condos are part of a small to medium-size development rarely exceeding 60 units. The Homeowners Association generally maintains the common areas, does landscaping and snow removal and may provide exterior maintenance. However, unlike a traditional attached condominium you do get your own four walls and sometimes even your own little slice of land depending on the development.

With single-family home prices having decreased approximately 30% since the peak four years ago, many buyers who were priced out of the market and looking only at condos can now realistically look at houses. It used to be if you were spending under $800,000 you would pretty much confine your search to condos and freestanding condos. Now, anyone with a budget of $400,000 to $600,000 can occasionally find a single-family residence that meets their requirements. It’s not easy finding a lower-priced home that is well maintained and in good location. But these little gems do come along from time to time and they are snatched up rather quickly.

It’s important that buyers ignore the price estimates that they find on home valuation services on the Internet. Estimates of property values that are created by a computerized algorithm are based more on dollars per square foot and the age of the structure than anything else. These estimates on Zillow, House Values and other services are completely inaccurate when evaluating properties in communities such as Incline Village and Crystal Bay. The Zillow algorithm does not know whether a house has a panoramic Lakeview, usable lot, coverage restrictions or dozens of other factors all of which can have a dramatic effect on the value of a property.

Buyers are well served by casting a wider net and searching in property categories they may not have originally considered. Sometimes a buyer who was initially looking at condos because they did not want to do yard work will find a single-family home with a natural landscape that they fall in love with. Also, search above your target price range because you never know when the seller of a property you like will do a significant price reduction. Be creative in your property search and you just might find what you’re looking for when you least expect it.

— Don Kanare is a Realtor at RE/MAX Premier Properties. Read his blog and weekly stats on his website at

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated May 28, 2012 01:17PM Published May 28, 2012 01:16PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.