Lake Tahoe home buyers need to search creatively |

Lake Tahoe home buyers need to search creatively

Don Kanare & Sabrina Belleci
Special to the Tribune
Don Kanare and Sabrina Belleci, ReMax Realty

With a historically low inventory this year, buyers are scouring the landscape to find a suitable property to 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. However, in such a tight market it pays to be creative if you don’t want to get into a multiple offer situation for a desirable property.

The vast majority of 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.

It’s important for agents and buyers to cast a wide 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.

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. Having your agent research previous sales, properties in escrow and comparable properties for sale can provide a thorough analysis and a more accurate assessment of fair market value when making a purchase decision.

It’s a good idea to search above your target price range because you never know when the seller of a property you like will do a significant price reduction. Ask your agent to network with their fellow agents and see if anyone has a pocket listing that might work for you.

Be creative in your property search and you just might find what you’re looking for when you least expect it.

Don Kanare is the founder and Sabrina Belleci is the owner and broker of RE/MAX North Lake in Incline Village. You can follow their blog at

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