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Time to make a deal?

Susan Wood
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Agents tour a Marlette Circle home Thursday morning as part of the Tahoe Board of Realtors Home Tour.
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The South Lake Tahoe real estate market closes off a slow summer for sales with a glut of inventory, but prices remain strong despite what many deem a market correction from the spiraling heyday of previous years.

Dee Hackleman is one seller who took her house off the market recently because she and her husband didn’t get what they were asking for. At last count, it was listed for $29,000 less than what the originally requested – down to $395,500.

“The market is flat right now. It’s glutted,” she said.

“This is just part of the market we work in. Buyers and sellers need to recognize this is not the market it was last year. It’s extremely competitive,” David Kurtzman of Aspen Realty said.

But a correction in price and availability might not be a bad thing, according to the state’s leading economist.

“Absolutely not. That’s just the way the market works. At some point, housing affordability will be impacted by rapid appreciation. We call it an ‘adjustment of expectation,'” California Association of Realtors chief economist Leslie Appleton Young said Thursday.

The median price for South Shore homes from July to August dipped by $40,000 to $435,000. Still, the appreciation for those wanting to buy and flip these homes remains strong, according to the South Lake Tahoe Board of Realtors. And now interest rates have dropped slightly to make the prospect of taking the plunge more attractive.

All in all, the market reflects one in which buyers are picky, sellers must be patient and agents need to be creative in how to distinguish their listings from a huge inventory almost double that of past years.

Concessions are being made in this extremely competitive market. One listing from Coldwell Banker indicates the “seller will carry a second to qualified buyers with no payments for three years.”

On the real estate caravan the South Tahoe Association of Realtors stages on Thursday mornings from the El Dorado County Library, Marlette Circle homeowner Marilyn Milholland described herself as “a very patient person,” waiting for the right connection and the right time for a buyer to see the charm of her $440,000 three-bedroom place listed through Aspen Realty.

“The way I look at it, there will be somebody who will buy it,” she said.

The market correction, which involves a lowering from many of these movers, is a natural thing, Avatar mortgage broker David Greco said. He has seen more buyers getting a piece of real estate in Tahoe to settle down, instead of the investors who came out in 1999 and 2000 to turn over houses and make a quick buck.

“People have to get out of their minds they’re going to make $1 million. You’ve got to live somewhere,” he said. “I’d like to see the local population start to explore buying a home. Prices are only going to go up. The correction is modest.”

“I think (market correction) is a good thing. If people stick it out, they’re going to be rewarded,” he said, and Realtor Deb Howard agreed.

“Yes, it was a slow summer. That’s no surprise. There’s no bubble bursting, and prices I think when the dust settles will see a 10 percent dip off their peak price. But buyers need to know it’s OK to buy. We had the correction. Now we have the inventory. Prices are negotiable. That has to feel good from the last five years,” she said, recalling the days when inventory was low and Tahoe was a seller’s market.

Beyond the various choices out there, the silver lining in the market to most real estate agents is the recent drop in interest rates to 6.3 percent – down from 6.65 percent from last month.


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