INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — This week's column is a departure from the usual format where I take an issue and either analyze it or beat it to death.With so many different things taking place in the Incline Village real estate market we have a veritable potpourri of Herb Caen style material for you this week. My apologies to the late Herb Caen as I know that my prose could never live up to his unique writing style at the San Francisco Chronicle.
The big headline concerns the departure of Intero Real Estate Services from the list of local offices. Evidently the old Intero office is now affiliated with Sotheby's, and apparently some of the agents have taken flight.
Longtime real estate agents Kristi Fisher and Jamie Golden now hang their licenses at Lakeshore Realty. Janet O'Donnell and Val Davisson are helping to pioneer the Incline Village office for Oliver Luxury Real Estate. Joining Janet and Val are two long time professionals in the business, Dave Duffie and Laura Beck, formerly with Coldwell-Banker. It's pretty unusual to see agents changing offices just before the start of the busy summer season, so all of these folks must have good reasons for making their particular moves.
It's interesting to note that Dickson Realty and Intero were both fairly large firms from out of the area that tried to make a go of it in the Lake Tahoe basin. Both firms grabbed a decent amount of sales for a short period of time. But in the long run it's very difficult for outsiders to have the intimate local knowledge, specialized business plan and unique selling proposition needed to succeed in one of the most competitive real estate markets in America.
Anyone who has been waiting for our real estate market to turn around may wish to jump on the train before it leaves the station. Closed escrows are up over 15% year to date versus 2011 and we had 21 properties go under contract in just the past two weeks. This is the strongest level of real estate sales activity in Incline Village and Crystal Bay in the past five years. Normally the inventory level would be rocketing this time of year, but with so many properties getting accepted offers on a weekly basis we are getting closer to equilibrium.
It was roughly one year ago I wrote a column about blight issues in our community and the visual pollution from inconsistent, ungainly and oversized signage of both the temporary and permanent variety. Things have actually changed for the worse and I couldn't believe my eyes last week when I drove past one place that had six signs if you counted the two on the building and the four loose ones out front. And what's with all the giant banners on the sides of buildings? I know there is an exemption for temporary signage and properties for lease, but some of these would make Donald Trump proud.
Let's all participate in the spirit of the Village clean up that started earlier this month in anticipation of the summer crowds and make our signage look clean, nice and inviting. I'd like to ask my fellow realtors to comply with the Washoe County ordinance and use only 12" x 12” for sale signs without those ugly add ons knows as sign riders. If you have riders on for sale signs, please remove them. Some communities around the country have already banned real estate signs altogether and we don't want this valuable marketing tool taken away from us. It's not necessary to have sign riders, oversized banners or excessive amounts of sandwich boards to sell our local products and services. Great customer service, a solid marketing plan and the natural beauty of Lake Tahoe will win you all the customers you need during the busy season.
Fire danger is the biggest concern that Lake Tahoe property owners face in 2012. The below average snowfall during the past winter means that creeks will dry up early, more trees will die and ground fuel moisture levels will be extremely low making vegetation highly combustible. Please check your property and remove dead limbs and dying trees, trim back the manzanita and do whatever is needed to reduce the fire danger. If you have a shake roof it is probably nearing the end of its useful life anyway and replacing it will be a blessing for you and your neighbors. The TRPA has liberalized the rules for pruning and removing trees since the Angora fire. Contact the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District at 775-831-0351 and they can help you perform a defensible space survey to determine which trees can legally be removed to make your property safer.
— Don Kanare is a Realtor at RE/MAX Premier Properties. Read his blog and weekly stats on his website at www.InsideIncline.com.