Smallest county boasts double-digit growth in home prices |

Smallest county boasts double-digit growth in home prices

Susan Wood

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / People visit a new home that is for sale during the Kirkwood Real Estate Home Tour on Sunday. The four-bedroom home is listed for $1,995,000.

Mostly driven by second homeowners, Alpine County real estate has seen a surge in value that coincides with the state’s steady increase in property values.

The median price for a single family home in California’s smallest county has gone up by 12 percent in one year, topping $400,000. In 2004, the price was $350,000, up from $270,000 in the prior year.

“They’ve gone up quite a bit in the last few years,” said agent Patty Kennedy, who works out of the Century 21, Minden office. Alpine County real estate is tracked on the Northern Nevada multiple listing service.

The number of homes currently listed – seven – is about the same as last year, but the time they’re on the market appears shorter from one year to the next, Kennedy said.

The agent has found the market of buyers is dominated by second homeowners, which echoes the trend in South Lake Tahoe.

“People don’t come here to work. They come to play and retire,” Kennedy said.

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It’s also similar to the Kirkwood real estate market where luxury homes are more abundant but are primarily bought by Bay Area residents seeking a mountain escape.

“What they’re looking for here is a home other than what they have in the city – a mountain feel with mountain comforts,” Kirkwood managing broker Joan Pilar said.

Kirkwood’s property appreciation mirrors Alpine County and even Amador, for that matter. That county situated next to Alpine has more than doubled its median price value from the $148,000 recorded in 2000.

But it has a ways to go to catch up to Kirkwood’s style.

The median price for a single family home on the market now is $1.5 million, while condominiums list for $628,235. A year ago, the average price of a single family home was sold at $1.1 million. Condos went for $612,444. Real estate offerings include the Mountain Club, Meadow Stone Lodge, Timber Ridge and Sentinel Townhomes. A new phase, Sentinel West, has been proposed in the master plan of the ski resort, which like Bear Valley, is split by Alpine and Amador counties.

Kirkwood has invested $30 million in its real estate development. But the division of the snow-riding haven would be the first to say maintaining the night sky in a carefully planned development is the priority.

Kirkwood property are sold in timeshares, single family homes, townhouses and condos – from studios to five-bedroom units.

“We always have diversity because they want a choice. And they want them large enough for others to come up and visit,” Pilar said, while overseeing the fourth annual luxury home tour at East Meadows last weekend. The proceeds of admission were earmarked to benefit the Alpine Watershed Group, a collaboration of stakeholders in the area that put on the Markleeville Creek Days cleanup.

The single family homes on the tour ranged in value from $1.6 million to $3.5 million. More than 200 people from Placerville and Amador County to South Lake Tahoe and Stockton attended Sunday’s event.

Some attendees like Sherri Lindner of South Lake Tahoe used the occasion to get ideas on how to revamp their home with style and elegance. She liked the alpine look in a 2,700-square-foot home with accents like upholstery swatches on the wall. The Cornice Court home also came with a gourmet kitchen, hardwood floors and tumbled marble.

The stone caught Susie and Ron Morton’s eyes.

“He did a good job on the exterior,” the Placerville woman said.

She shook her head to think of how long they waited to buy where they want to retire.

“We all should have bought years ago,” she said.

Rae Charos has the land without the home. So she toured the $1.9 million home listed on Columbine Circle to get ideas. Guests received a whirlwind tour of the four-bedroom on its spiraling three-floors. Windows dominated the top floor.

The Kirkwood Community Association receives 3 percent of the home sale proceeds to operate a recreation center with a swimming pool and spa.

On the other end of Alpine County, a proposed vacation resort in Markleeville was ordered by Alpine County to complete an extensive environmental study to build the 25-room lodge and 49-cabin resort over 36 acres.

Median price for a single family home reported in July

— Alpine County: $400,000 (August)

— Amador County: $330,000 (August)

— Kirkwood: $1.5 million (median on market in September);

$845,000 (average sold YTD)

— California: $451,000 (July)

— South Lake Tahoe area: $430,000 (July)

Sources: South Tahoe Association of Realtors; Coldwell Banker, Markleeville; Century 21 Minden; Amador County Association of Realtors; DataQuick Information Systems; Kirkwood Real Estate