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Year in real estate was great

An exceptional year for real estate on the south shore of Lake Tahoe in 1998 could set the stage for a sellers’ market, according to a panel of real estate agents gathered on Tuesday.

In 1998, sales volume increased by 30 percent and sales income was up 35 percent. The inventory at the beginning of 1999, is the lowest that local real estate agents have seen in a very longtime.

“The rub (of a great 1998) is in ’99,” said Doug Rosner, a real estate agent at Century 21 South Tahoe. “Three-hundred listings are lower than they have been since 1989.”



Bargain hunters should take note. If low inventory continues, prices could start going up.

“Prices are still decent, but we could be at the turning point,” said Theresa Souers, a real estate agent with Yank’s Realty. “Tahoe is still one of the best places to put your money.”



Rosner noted that the end of each of the last few decades have tended to be booming years for real estate at South Lake Tahoe with the early years of a decade being poor.

“If history repeats itself, we could top out next year,” Rosner said.

On the other hand, January is historically a slow month for new listings.

“Inventory is low right now, typically low, for this time of year,” said Molly Blann of Aspen Realty. “March, April and May are big listing months.”

“Because it’s so low, it’s the best time to list,” said Pat Colon, a broker with Century 21, Tahoe Pines Realty. She hoped potential sellers would take note.

“We’re all moaning and groaning. We have buyers without property to sell them,” Colon said.

Whatever the future brings, 1998 was a real estate year for the record books.

“I don’t think this town has ever had anything close to 1998,” said Rosner who has 20 years of experience.

The strong year was apparent in the dollar volume and the amount of high-priced properties that were sold.

“Nothing close, not even in 1989,” Rosner said. “In 1989 you could count the number of million-dollar sales on one hand.”

In 1998, five homes sold for more than $1 million on the California side and million-plus properties sold on the Nevada side totaled 28.

“High-priced properties were flying out of here,” Rosner said.

“Five or six years ago they were moaning and groaning.”

Driving the boom are customers, many from computer companies, with money burning holes in their pockets thanks to stock profits. Many are young and they often pay cash.

“People in the computer industry are dabbling in stocks, making money and don’t know what to do with it all,” Colon said.

“I’ve had more buyers under 30 years-old than ever,” Rosner said.

Condominiums are very popular among the Silicon Valley crowd.

“Condos in the (Tahoe) Keys sell in two weeks,” said Marc Royer of Coldwell Banker McKinney & Assoc., Inc.

Continued low interest rates are also driving potential buyers to become buyers.

“Interest rates, at 7 percent or less all year is unprecedented in my 20 years,” Rosner said.

“We’re keeping abreast of where the economy is going and the economy is booming,” Royer said.

“The hot properties of 1998,” according to Rosner, “were nice homes, in nice settings and nice views. These prices went up.”

“Those sellers could almost pick their price,” Royer said.

The South Lake Tahoe Board of Realty reported a median selling range of $140,000 and an average of more than $188,000.

In Nevada, thanks to the sale of the $50 million Dreyfuss estate, the span was even wider with a median of $315,000 and an average price of $887,000.

The median is the price where an equal number is above it and an equal number below. The average is an arithmetical average.

The gap between the numbers, “is a reflection of the number of high-priced properties that are selling,” Rosner said.

However, the numbers are compared. “There’s a bunch of happy Realtors,” Rosner added.

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