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Real estate looks real good at Tahoe

Sally J. Taylor

The real estate market on the South Shore so far in 1998 is enjoying the best of all worlds, according to local real estate professionals.

Interest rates are hovering at the low end of 7 percent for 30-year mortgages and 15-year mortgages can be had for percents in the high 6s. Plus, the number of homes and the number of buyers is staying balanced.

“There are a lot of buyers and a lot of sellers, almost parity,” said Doug Rosner, owner of Century 21 South Tahoe Realty. “Two years ago, there were too many buyers and not enough sellers. In the early ’80s there were too many sellers and not enough buyers …

“This is the strongest market I’ve seen in 10 years.”

Real estate professionals Molly Blann, Theresa Souers and Pat Colon agreed with Rosner’s assessment on Monday during a panel discussion about the first half of 1998 for real estate sales on the South Shore.

On the California side, sales are up 30 percent for the year to date, Rosner said.

In Nevada, from Stateline to Glenbrook, house sales were up 10 percent and condominium sales increased by 11 percent, according to Colon, with Century 21 Tahoe Pines Realty of Nevada.

“We’re seeing more expensive properties selling much more readily than previously. There’s a lot of money in this economy right now,” Rosner said.

Partly driving the real estate scene, the panel said, is the long-running bull market on Wall Street that is pouring profits into the pockets of many employed in technology industries.

“The stock market has definitely played heavily in sales,” said Colon.

She said on the Nevada side, 23. 5 percent of condominium buyers and 30 percent of house buyers pay in cash.

About 13 percent of Rosner’s buyers paid in cash, he said.

Improvements in the California economy and the trend toward “telecommuting,” or working from your home, also benefit Tahoe home sales.

“Southern Californians who have been waiting to sell, have now sold and they’re ready to make an investment (elsewhere),” said Blann, of Aspen Realty.

In other cases, those who can’t afford to buy a home in the area where they work, such as in San Jose, buy at Tahoe and rent near their jobs.

Nationally, “Tahoe is still considered one of the best values to buy in,” said Souers of Century 21 Tahoe Pines Realty.

Thanks to computers, e-mail and the Internet, many people can now live wherever they want and keep touch with their offices via computer.

“More and more, people are working out of their homes,” Colon said, noting many buyers look specifically for Tahoe homes with office space.

“It’s a great place to live,” she said.

While technology may boost sales in mid- and upper-priced residences including condominiums and vacation homes, lower-priced home sales are getting help from the prevalence of first-time-buyer programs.

With the availability of buyers and sellers, houses are selling faster this year.

In Nevada, the average number of days on the market dropped from 279 for homes in 1997 to 248 in 1998. Condominiums dropped from 253 days to 227. California real estate is seeing a similar drop in the number of days from listing to closing.

Houses with a view, that back to a forest or have other special features sell within days, Rosner said.

The cost of homes has also increased and homes are selling closer to their listing price this year.

In California, homes have been selling at 95 percent of their listing price. In Nevada, condominiums have been selling at 94 percent and homes at 91 percent.

“The reason they’re staying close to 95 percent is the parity in the market,” Rosner said. “We’re replenishing the inventory almost as fast as were selling houses.”

If the first half of the year can be considered strong in the real estate market, June alone was incredible.

On the California side, 82 residents sold in June, 25 percent of the sales for the first six months of 1998.

“In our office, we did half of our whole year in June,” Rosner said. “We’ve never had a June like this.”

The year could get even better. Traditionally, homes sell best in the early fall months as buyers speed up their search to beat the snowfall.

“We haven’t even hit the real meat of the selling season yet,” Rosner said.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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