Real Estate

Bay area buyers are flocking to Lake Tahoe as the summer season officially kicks off.

Jeff Brown, owner and general manager of Tahoe Mountain Realty, has lived and worked in Tahoe for 26 years. “The market here is red hot and shows no signs of mellowing out. As of now, demand is equal to the peak activity of last summer,” Brown says. “In a normal year … our season usually begins July 4th. This was our busiest first and second quarter ever, which followed the busiest ever second half of 2020.”                                                

Looking at May 2021 compared to May 2020, the numbers tell the story. According to the Tahoe Sierra Multiple Listing Service, which includes the California side of North Tahoe and the Truckee area of California, May 2021 saw 161 units sold (both single-family and condominiums) with a total sales volume of $217.4 million. That is up from 79 units in May 2020 with a total sales volume of $68.6 million.

For those in the market for a modern mountain retreat, this four-bedroom wood and glass home in Truckee’s Martis Camp is for sale at $5.895 million. The 2,177-acre luxury community is a draw for Bay Area buyers. “The pandemic redefined the definition of the second home market,” Brown explains. “Young families wanted to invest in a year-round mountain lifestyle. Remote work and distance learning made that possible.” 

Unlike buyers in some other resort areas around the country, including the Hamptons and the Palm Springs area, Bay Area Tahoe buyers have kept their primary residences, according to Brown. “A significant number of recent buyers have made the Tahoe area their co-primary home over the last year. Even though kids will go back to school in the fall and parents are going back to the office, the idea of having a piece of the mountain lifestyle has endured,” notes Brown, who points to a large influx of tech and venture capital buyers.


Another Truckee offering is this 2,275-square-foot home in the Northstar Resort. Built from a series of repurposed shipping containers, its design is contemporary and distinctive. The price tag is $3,295,000.

It’s not surprising that the homes of choice for multiple property owners are in luxury private resort communities with full amenities for all ages and all seasons. “That target buyer is the young Bay Area family with the kids still living at home. They are seeking an anecdote to the daily over-scheduled grind of traffic and screen time,” Brown says. “They tell me they are buying a second home to live a healthier lifestyle as a family.” Brown notes the distinction between Tahoe second home buyers and vacation home buyers. “The Bay area buyers are mainly second home buyers. Owning a second home, means these buyers visit more frequently for shorter stays. A vacation home buyer is more destination-driven coming for infrequent longer stays and often flying here.”


Just as at many other in-demand resort areas, Tahoe’s inventory situation is extremely tight. “The standing inventory is almost nothing,” Brown says. “Maybe we have about a month of supply. The competition is so intense that inventory sells almost as soon as it comes on the market.” An interesting market fundamental not seen before is that as prices are up 30% to 40%, compared to a few years ago, some sellers are afraid to leave the market for fear they won’t be able to get back in. “These are sellers who might have sold now, but they don’t want to take their chips off the table just yet,” Brown explains.


As we move into the high summer season and vacation time, Brown doesn’t expect demand to let up anytime soon. “Tahoe is a special place, and more people are realizing that and want to own property here.”