The Best Time to Buy a House in Lake Tahoe

Ben Mizes

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Ben Mizes

October 21st, 2021
Updated October 21st, 2021

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Lake Tahoe has one of the highest median property values in the country. It is also considerably more expensive in comparison to the wider Sacramento Metro area. This means that searching for optimal buying times is crucial. Here we explore what trends exist in the Lake Tahoe housing market.

best time to buy lake tahoe

Buying a house is a stressful and emotional process. You'll likely have to spend weeks touring properties, fill out hundreds of forms, and invest a large chunk of your savings to secure the right house.

One way to make buying a house easier is starting the process at the right time. In Lake Tahoe, housing inventory, mortgage rates, and market trends vary from month to month.

For example, this year listing prices for homes in California were lowest in April. On average, homes were $158,882 less expensive. While in November — the month with the highest prices — the listing prices were $165,094 more than the annual average.

In truth, the best time to buy a house really depends on your priorities and situation. Read on to find out which time of year will give you the most options and the biggest savings when buying a house in Lake Tahoe.

Best Month For


Listing price
April
11.5% lower than average
Housing inventory
May
13.2% more homes to choose from
Mortgage rates
December
2.88% interest for 30-year mortgage
Realtor.com data (October 2020)
Bankrate data (December 2020)

If you're interested in buying a home, the first step in the home buying journey is getting preapproved by a licensed lender. Even if you’re already pre-approved, shopping around for lower rates can pay dividends over the life of the loan.

You can fill out the form below to be instantly matched with a licensed lender who knows the area and can guide you through the process.

Get Pre-approved Today!

Get matched with a lender who can tell you how much house you can afford. To get started, where do you plan on buying?

Best Time of Year to Buy in Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is not only home to some of the most expensive properties in the wider Sacramento Metro area, but the prices are also considerably higher in comparison to the national average. With a median house value of $470,900, this represents a 12-month increase of 7%.

With the U.S. growing at an average of 7.2% in the same period, Lake Tahoe homes grew at a slower pace than the national average.

Spring is often referred to as the "on-season" in the Lake Tahoe housing market, as this is generally the time of the year that property listings begin to pick-up. What this means for you as the buyer is that you'll have access to a greater number of homes to choose from. On the other hand, this also means that competition is likely to follow, which can result in bidding wars between buyers.

Nice weather conditions will also give you the chance to spend more time evaluating the condition of a property. This is something that would otherwise be challenging during the winter season.

The winter season is also the time of the year that fewer homes are listed in Lake Tahoe. While this will result in lower levels of inventory, you'll also stand a better chance of negotiating a lower offer, as there are fewer buyers active in the market.

The average number of days that properties remain on the market before closing is sporadic in Lake Tahoe. For example, in February 2018, homes were listed for an average of 153 days before selling. However, in the following month, this dropped significantly to 77 days.

When properties remain on the market for prolonged periods, you stand a better chance of negotiating a lower offer. However, data in Lake Tahoe is too volatile in this respect. This is why you should consider using a local real estate agent, as they'll be able to guide you through the process of timing the market.

The Best Places to Buy a Home in Lake Tahoe

West Shore: West Shore is one of the most sought after areas in Lake Tahoe due to its beautiful lakes and idyllic scenery. With a sale-to-list price ratio of 93.1% and 92.3% in January and February 2018 respectively, you might be able to obtain a great deal on your desired property.

Squaw Valley: Squaw Valley is best known as one of the key sites of the 1960 Olympics. However, its now one of the most cost-effective locations in Lake Tahoe, with median property prices at just $261,700.

Truckee: Although a much pricier option at a median home value of $621,900, Truckee is often regarded as one of the best ski towns globally. Truckee is home to a range of trendy shops, cafes and restaurants, and its less than 15 miles to Lake Tahoe itself.

Northstar Davis: With a median price of $375 per square foot, Northstar Davis is also a pricy option. If this is within budget, you'll be right on the doorstep of golf courses, biking trails, and the skiing slopes. Restaurants and shops and are also plentiful.

Alpine Meadows: If you're looking for direct access to the slopes, then nothing quite beats Alpine Meadows. Median property prices are potentially at their highest here though at $805,000.

4 Ways to Get a Great Deal on a Home in Lake Tahoe

Find a Great Real Estate Agent Based in Lake Tahoe

Finding a great real estate agent who has extensive knowledge of the Lake Tahoe housing market should be your first step. A reputable agent will be able to help you time the market to ensure that you get the best price possible on your chosen property.

They'll also be able to guide you through the financial side of buying a house in Lake Tahoe, such as obtaining a mortgage and covering the costs of down payments and closing.

Read more: What can a real estate agent do for you as the buyer?

Assess Your Needs and Lay Out Your Goals:

Before you begin viewing properties in the Lake Tahoe area, you first need to assess what your needs are. Make some considerations regarding budget, property size, and the specific Lake Tahoe area that you ideally want to be based in.

This is a process that is best suited for a one-on-one discussion with a local real estate agent. Once you've expressed your goals, they'll be able to short-list some suitable properties.

Find a Lender and Secure Financing:

You will want to pre-arrange your financing before you get to the point of making an offer. As it normally takes around 30 days for a deal to close upon making an offer, you don't want to encounter any financial hiccups.

Finding and securing finance can be a stressful endeavor, so it's best to allow a buyer's agent to guide you through the process.

Read more: The step-by-step home loan process.

Negotiate for the Best Possible Price:

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 rates are among the biggest factors when choosing a lender. Doing a little upfront research and comparing options to find the best rates 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.

Getting a mortgage is a big decision – and it pays to shop around! Keep shopping until you find a lender with competitive rates who also understands your goals. Don’t get pressured into taking on a bigger loan than you’re comfortable with – work with a lender who explains what you’re really signing up for.

It’s easy to start your home buying journey – answer a few questions to get instantly matched with a lender who works in your area.

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