Home sales, prices strong | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Home sales, prices strong

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / South Lake Tahoe residents Lee Hackleman, left, and his wife, Dee, look at color swatches in their vacation rental home they are putting up for sale.

Led by a drop in the Bay Area, the rumors of the real estate market plummeting have been greatly exaggerated, looking at the situation in South Lake Tahoe.

Despite the number of available homes increasing by about 100 compared to this time last year, sellers are still seeing a profit. The average sales price on a single family home for the year was $574,274, $18,000 more than last year through May 2.

Homeowners fortunate enough to get on the profit bandwagon have experienced double-digit annual growth from 2001 to 2004.

With longer stays on the market and more inventory, the market has experienced some leveling off and choices among buyers have gone up. But with a little elbow grease, many sellers can still enjoy a healthy profit.

Take Lee and Dee Hackleman. After winter’s wrath, they knew they had their work cut out with their rental home on Gardner Mountain, but the effort may result in profits up to $400,000.

The longtime Tahoe couple, who live in Montgomery Estates, decided to unload the 1,150-square-foot house on Julie Lane in order to travel more.

When the work is done, they plan to list it with Theresa Souers of Century 21 Tahoe Paradise for $428,500. They bought it in 1974 for $31,500. The median price for a single family home on Gardner Mountain went for $464,000 in March.

“I don’t want people to think it’s a fixer upper,” Lee Hackleman said.

Beyond the massive outside cleanup, the Hacklemans will paint the interior, install a vanity counter in one of the bathrooms, fix cracked windows and shampoo the carpet.

“If I was looking at it, I’d want it done,” she said. “First impressions mean a lot.”

That’s precisely how sellers should view their home, Souers indicated. But she also acknowledged the difficulty sellers have in looking at their homes objectively. She listed a number of questions sellers should ask themselves:

— Is the home inviting?

— Is the overall look fresh?

— Are the shutters hanging straight?

— Would you be drawn to view the interior?

— Is the (walking) path clear?

Every detail matters, Souers stressed.

Glowenna Thompson got the message when she spent two weeks spiffing up her Sierra Tract home listed for $465,000 with Madeleine Guttierez of Coldwell Banker, McKinney and Associates.

She used the construction expertise of her three sons to get the 1,600-square-foot, 3-bedroom home in a state in which it could be shown. She intends to cash in her nest egg and move away – a common theme around South Lake Tahoe these days.

The Fountain Avenue house was the first place featured in this Thursday’s real estate caravan. The prospect of the springtime buying-and-selling season had agents that morning eagerly weaving into Sierra Tract where the median sales price in March was $365,000.

Thompson’s place was thoroughly cleaned up – inside and out. She planted bulbs in the front yard. Within the last year, new kitchen appliances were installed, among other improvements.

Longtime South Shore agent Deb Howard, who serves on the National Association of Realtors (NAR) resort community committee, said buyers are in a position to negotiate with the level of inventory available in Tahoe now.

“Finally buyers have more choices. So spring cleaning can mean the difference between a house selling and not,” she said, adding homes are not selling overnight. “Realtors are working harder than ever.”

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