INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The laws of supply and demand have tilted in favor of buyers for the better part of the past three years. While this equation may change in the latter part of 2012 as inventory levels decline year to year, buyers at the present time have the upper hand as supply significantly outstrips demand during the winter months. 20 properties have gone into escrow during the first six weeks of this year which works out to an average of 3.33 properties per week going under contract.
With the ski resorts operating well below capacity due to the unusually low snowpack this winter season, it's rather surprising that more buyers are not taking advantage of the nice weather to look at properties. The roads from California to Nevada are in great shape and chain restrictions have been minimal. Normally, difficult driving conditions and snow-covered landscapes are an impediment to buyers looking at property at Lake Tahoe. But without those hurdles to overcome one would think more buyers would be seeking to negotiate the best deals during the off-season.
The other inexplicable part of the equation is the recent disconnect between the strength in the stock market and the purchasing patterns of buyers in the past three years. When the market has moved strongly to the upside, we have seen surges of sales activity and spikes in the number of properties going into escrow. However, this correlation has disappeared during the first part of 2012 with sales activity being relatively light and concentrated among lower and moderate priced properties.
As of February 12 there are 306 houses, condos and freestanding condos for sale on the Incline Village MLS. With an average of only 3.33 sales per week so far this year, supply clearly outstrips demand. Most sellers are much more willing to negotiate during the winter months when buyers are few and far between than during the peak summer season when their property is getting shown every few days. So, buyers have an opportunity from now until the end of March to try and strike a good deal. Once April rolls around and the Easter Bunny arrives, the majority of sellers start to entertain the notion that “summer is right around the corner”. This change in seller psyche along with increased competition from other buyers as we move closer to summer directly affects the supply/demand equation.
Savvy buyers who have been patiently waiting for a good value should consider the next six weeks an excellent time to look at properties and present offers. With minimal snow cover you can do better inspections and evaluate the landscape more clearly than in a normal winter season, therby reducing potential surprises.
If you don't see anything among the active listings that suits your fancy, your agent can search the withdrawn and expired listings and contact the previous listing agent to see if the owner is still interested in selling their property. About 30% of the listings each year are given a rest in the off-season and get pulled off the MLS during the wintertime. These properties are still generally available for sale if a willing buyer brings a reasonable offer. So, revisiting the withdrawn and expired listings can often result in successful negotiations between buyer and seller during the winter months.
The local inventory has slowly but steadily declined during the past three years and buyers have fewer and fewer quality properties from which to choose. Buyers seeking the best values (and who don't want to compete with the summertime crowds) have a great opportunity the next several weeks to try and strike a good deal on a house or condo on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe.
— Don Kanare is a Realtor at RE/MAX Premier Properties. Read his blog and weekly stats on his website at www.InsideIncline.com.