Is there a best time to buy in Lake Tahoe? That depends on your priorities as a buyer — whether it's a lower list price, better mortgage rate, or more inventory to choose from.
Recent pricing and inventory trends
In the years leading up to the pandemic, listing prices in California were at their lowest in April, costing buyers $158,882 less than the annual average. In November — the month with the highest prices — listing prices spiked $165,094 higher than the annual average. The number of homes listed for sale tended to peak in May before tapering off in the fall and winter.
More recently, home prices and inventory levels in Lake Tahoe have followed a less predictable pattern, largely driven by shifting market conditions — including a pandemic housing boom that ended with rising interest rates. Now more homes are lingering on the market, and many buyers are timing their home purchase based on temporary fluctuations in mortgage rates.
Recent mortgage trends
Mortgage rates in California tend to be at their lowest in December and January. However, they've risen significantly since the pandemic, pushing many buyers to the sidelines. With fewer people applying for home loans than in recent years, some lenders are offering incentives — such as competitor price matching — to help buyers bring down their borrowing costs.
Even a half-a-point discount in interest could save you hundreds of dollars a month on your home loan. So it pays to explore your options with multiple mortgage lenders to make sure you get the best deal possible. Quicken Loans' free automated tool can give you an idea of where interest rates stand so you can start comparing providers.
If you're interested in buying a home in Lake Tahoe, the first step is to talk to a realtor with expertise in the local market. In a rapidly shifting market, the right agent can help you find the best property for your budget — and negotiate a winning offer so you don't miss out or overpay.
The easiest way to find a great local realtor is to use a free service like Clever Real Estate. Clever can match you with top agents in your area for a free, no-obligation consultation. Interview multiple agents until you find the right fit, or walk away at any time. Fill in a few details below to start browsing hand-picked agent matches in your area!
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The best time of year to buy a house in Lake Tahoe
Spring is often called the "on season" in the Lake Tahoe housing market. Property listings begin to pick up, which means you'll have more homes to choose from. At the same time, you'll likely have more competition from other buyers, which could lead to bidding wars and higher prices.
In the winter, the fewest homes are for sale, but there are also fewer buyers competing for homes. In this environment, you'll have a better chance of negotiating a lower price, but you may not find a home that has all the features you're hoping for.
You might also consider buying when properties have been on the market longer. As sellers become increasingly anxious to sell, you have a better chance of negotiating a lower offer.
In Lake Tahoe, the number of days that properties remain on the market can vary significantly month to month. For example, in February 2021, homes spent an average of 70 days on the market before selling. However, in the following month, that number dropped to 43.
While this information can provide a frame of reference, the Lake Tahoe housing market often changes too quickly to time based on the previous years' data. Instead of relying on past trends, consult with a local real estate agent who can give you the latest information on your target market.
The best places to buy a home in Lake Tahoe
West Shore–Sunnyside is one of the most sought-after areas in Lake Tahoe due to its beautiful lakes and idyllic scenery. Property prices in the area have risen about 10% over the past year, and the typical home now costs upward of $1.4 million.
Squaw Valley is best known as one of the key sites of the 1960 Olympics. It's now one of the most cost-effective locations in Lake Tahoe, with median property prices around $370,000.
Truckee is a well-regarded ski town with a range of trendy shops, cafés, and restaurants. It's less than 15 miles from Lake Tahoe, and the median home value is about $1.1 million.
With the median home value hovering at $1.3 million, Northstar Davis is a pricey option. That's partly because the neighborhood is near golf courses, biking trails, and skiing slopes. The area also has plenty of restaurants and shops.
If you're looking for direct access to the slopes, nothing beats Alpine Meadows. However, with median home prices topping $1 million, the views come at a premium.
Four ways to get a deal on a home in Lake Tahoe
1. Find a great real estate agent based in Lake Tahoe
When buying a home, your first step should be finding a great real estate agent who knows the Lake Tahoe housing market. A reputable agent will help you time the market to get the best price possible on your chosen property.
They'll also guide you through other financial aspects of buying a house in Lake Tahoe, like getting a mortgage from a reputable lender and negotiating closing costs.
2. Determine what you want and need in a house
Before you start looking at properties in the Lake Tahoe area, assess what your needs are. Make decisions on budget, property size, and the specific Lake Tahoe area you want to live in.
Your real estate agent can help you zero in on your priorities. Once you share your goals, they'll short-list suitable properties.
3. Find a lender and secure financing
Unless you plan to buy your home with cash, you'll need to apply for a mortgage. For most home buyers in Lake Tahoe, interest rate is one of the biggest factors when choosing a lender. Doing some upfront research and comparing options to find the best rate could save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.
For example, in California a typical house is worth $599,000. Assuming a 20% down payment, if you took out a 30-year mortgage for 3.5%, your monthly payment would be $2,137. But if you shopped around and found a 3% mortgage, your monthly payment would drop to about $2,020.
4. Negotiate for the best possible price
Once you land on the right property and have financing in place, it's time to make an offer. Here's where it really pays to lean on your agent's expertise.
In addition to helping you make an informed offer, a savvy agent can negotiate other aspects of the deal on your behalf — like seller-paid concessions to help you buy down your interest rate or make needed repairs.
If you need a strong realtor but don't have time to vet agents, Clever can connect you to a top Lake Tahoe real estate agent in a matter of minutes.
Simply fill out the form below, and we'll set you up with a free, no-obligation consultation.
Finding a great local realtor is the first step in making your home buying dreams a reality. Our free service matches you with top agents from trusted brands like Keller Williams and RE/MAX.
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