Real estate: Preparing your property for the holidays


It’s that time of year when festive holiday lights decorate the homes and trees on properties all over Incline Village and Crystal Bay. With snow covering the evergreen trees it is beginning to look like the quintessential holiday season all-around Lake Tahoe.

The beginning of December also marks a general reduction in the inventory of properties for sale in our community.

The total number of houses, condominiums and free standing condos for sale on the Incline Village multiple listing service is down to a very low level of about 63 properties. Many agents and sellers, routinely withdraw properties from the market at the end of November and early December however, in 2020 we have seen properties continue to hit the MLS through the fall and into the holiday season. There are many reasons a seller might have for taking a property off the MLS this time of year.

First and foremost, the number of buyers actively seeking properties normally declines dramatically after the Thanksgiving holiday. This fall has been an anomaly with buying activity continuing at a stronger than usual pace. But, it’s unlikely we will see continuously strong activity through 2021.

The U.S. economic expansion came to a screeching halt in March and has been fluctuating with the state of the pandemic. The outlier in all major economic reports has the continuous and even booming growth of the housing market and specifically markets in second home and vacation/resort destinations like Incline Village.

Even with a COVID-19 vaccine coming to the public in 2021, there is still great uncertainty in the market place and we sense that buying activity will slow down to a level that is closer to the historical seasonal norm this coming winter.

The vast majority of people who come to visit Lake Tahoe during ski season have winter sports on their mind and shopping for real estate takes a backseat. After a long day on the slopes, most people are too tired to take a serious look at Incline Village real estate. A hot toddy, nice massage and dinner by the fire seem to have more appeal than tromping through the snow to look at houses and condos. Plus, they have to ski enough days to make buying a season pass worth it should resorts need to close down once again.

A lot of sellers do not want people traipsing through their properties in the wintertime tracking mud and snow on their beautiful flooring. Even if you provide booties to cover soiled shoes, there are always a few folks who just want to do a quick run through with mud on their treads.

With fewer active buyers seeking properties during wintertime, most sellers would rather button up their houses and retain them for their personal enjoyment. Frankly, most properties just don’t photograph as well in the winter and don’t have a much curb appeal covered in days old snow which doesn’t help your property standout online.

There is also the issue of snow removal and liability. If you have a condo for sale in the wintertime then you can pretty much depend on the homeowners association to handle the snow removal chores. But, if you are an absentee owner of a single-family home and you don’t normally have the driveway cleared after every snowstorm, keeping your property ready for a showing at any time can result in considerable additional expense. Most buyers are not going to climb over a 3 foot high berm of snow and ice then trudge up a snow-covered sidewalk to get to the front door.

The potential for injury to a buyer or agent is also significantly increased during wintertime showings. Every year people slip and fall on icy sidewalks and driveways or they get hit by falling ice resulting in broken bones that keep our local emergency room rather busy. Many sellers do not wish to take the risk of additional liability for wintertime injuries that may occur at their property.

It takes a certain amount of care and vigilance to continually remove snow, ice and dangerous icicles and keep entryways and roofs clear so that it’s safe for agents and their clients to take a look at your property. So, while each snowstorm is welcomed by winter sports enthusiasts, buyers become scarcer. Most visitors turn their attention to the ski resorts and shopping for real estate becomes less of a priority than during the busier spring and summer season.

Sabrina Belleci is the broker/owner of ReMax North Lake.

Weekly Real Estate Update Statistics

Houses Condos PUDs

For Sale 36 14 4

Under $1 million 0 14 2

Median Price For Sale $2,187,000 $607,000 $1,092,250

YTD Sales 2020 349 235 72

YTD Sales 2019 214 157 52

New Listings 7

In Escrow 6

Closed Escrow 24

Range in Escrow $775,000 – $4,400,000

These statistics are based on information from the Incline Village Board of Realtors or its multiple listing service as of Dec. 7.

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