Second homeowners outnumber locals in some neighborhoods
Tahoe Township Judge Richard Glasson has seen his Lower Kingsbury neighborhood become darker and quieter over the years.
When he first bought his house in 1980, the neighborhood was alive with residents and weekend vacationers. Over time, the vibrancy has eroded into desolation.
“It’s just odd,” Glasson said. “Sometimes it’s like living in a ghost town.”
Glasson’s observation is a microcosm of South Shore’s real estate market. Agents in the field described a phenomenon where out-of-towners buy homes and either increase the rental price or take the residence off the rental market.
The success of dot-coms several years ago gave people money to buy such assets. The subsequent fallout and the shakiness of the stock market made people nervous enough to move their money into Tahoe real estate. The idea is the vacation home will retain its value or increase in value.
Real estate agents call it “parking.”
“As a real-estate broker, I benefit from increased real estate activity but I think over time it’s going to catch up to us because of the loss of our labor pool,” said Tony Laurian at Aspen Reality. “It wipes out the middle of the road family that makes a living at Lake Tahoe.”
Charlie Hamm, the property manager for Mountain View Management, a firm that handles rentals for people off the hill, has noticed the effect “parking” has on the market.
“There has been a price increase of the past years,” Hamm said. “Although the market is leveling off, there was a strong surge in the last couple of years. The biggest factor is probably the supply of rental property shrinking due to the fact people are buying vacation homes and using them as second homes.”
Vacation rentals have been a hot topic for the South Lake Tahoe City Council. A vote is expected whether to impose restrictions that would limit the traffic, noise, occupancy and garbage of visitors, who more and more come to Tahoe with kegs of beer and rowdiness.
Laurian said rents for larger residences 10 years ago averaged between $800 and $900 per month. Now the average hovers around $1,650, he said.
Hamm said rentals at Mountain View Management range from $1,200 to $1,600 a month. A three bedroom, two bath home with about 1,200 square feet runs about $1,200 a month, Hamm said. A 2,000 square foot house increases the monthly rent to about $1,600, he said.
Hamm also compared the present rental price compared to five years ago:
n A one-bedroom apartment went for somewhere near $375. Now the monthly rent is about $525.
n A two-bedroom apartment five years ago was about $550. Now the price is about $650.
n A two-bedroom house five years ago was listed around $700. Now the price hovers around $850.
Hamm attributed the increase in price to supply and demand. He said the supply shrank greatly in 2000, as more people were wanting their second homes in Tahoe to not be used by renters. But now he believes times have changed.
“I think that trend has slowed down greatly,” he said. “I don’t see that much anymore. In the summer of 2000 I was handing out 30-day notices to vacate.”
About 10 years ago, Glasson guessed, the change in his neighborhood became noticeable when second homeowners were buying residences and not using them for longer periods of time.
The aftermath of Sept. 11 has emphasized that phenomenon, as the number of people who fly, and tend to stay longer at places, decreased. Meanwhile drivers, who are more mobile but have shorter vacations, increased.
Glasson said people who appear before him in court have remained steady — some residents, mostly visitors.
Besides the transformation in his neighborhood, Glasson said he also notices the change at his supermarket.
“It concerns me that I might be the last person living here,” he joked. “The judge has to live in the township. It’s amazing. You can go to the grocery store on a weekend and wouldn’t recognize anyone. If you go in the middle of the week, all you see is your friends.”
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