One Crazy Winter…

As we all know, Tahoe had a great, crazy winter. Tons of snow, monsoon rains and the Lake is up about 5′ already this year. They say that even with all of the gates open at the Tahoe City Dam the Lake level could continue to rise. They also say this could be largest one-year rise in lake level ever.


We’ve had big temperature fluctuations lately from the 60’s to snow. Runoff has been amazing. Tahoe mountainsides are springing leaks anywhere possible to let out the pressure and get water downhill. It’s been wild to see.


This is the old store on Mt. Rose Highway. Roof collapsed this winter under huge snow loads.



I’ve never seen this before. Double-pile (aka two pier pilings per side) pier deck collapse on the West Shore.


A few other interesting facts:

  • The Lake Tahoe Basin received 10 more inches of precipitation than any year in recorded history, going back to 1910


  • In a two-day span from Dec. 9 through 11 Lake Tahoe gained 8,690,131,707 gallons of fresh water.


  • Monitor Pass had its latest opening in 13 years.

Historic Drum Estate Sells on the West Shore for $28.975m

drummainhouse1927John Drum, President of the American Trust Company, which later merged into Wells Fargo Bank, originally purchased the lakefront property in 1923. Located in Meeks Bay, the property is wrapped around a crescent of shoreline that the Drums christened “Chinkapin Cove.” His wife, Georgina S. Drum, commissioned notable San Francisco architect G. Albert Lansburgh to build the home.  Lansburgh is famous for designing theaters across the nation, including the Warfield and Orpheum theaters in San Francisco as well as homes in the Pacific Heights district of San Francisco. Lansburgh also designed the Drum’s primary residence in San Francisco.


The Drum’s West Shore property on Lake Tahoe was titled “The John S. Drum Chalet” and the drawings, pencil sketches and original photos of the home are housed in U.C. Berkeley’s Architectural Archives collection.The Drum family owned the property from 1923 to 1961. The main structure was built with Port Orford cedar logs, shipped down from Oregon, an unusual practice during that time as most homes were built with local lumber. This type of cedar was selected because it is particularly rot-resistant and would stand the test of time.Much of the home’s original charm, materials and history have been preserved. Ox yolks from the oxen that pulled the lumber around the property hang on display above the patio. Nearby, a secluded outdoor barbecue area sits on a ridge overlooking the property.


The main lodge was built with cedar logs shipped to Tahoe from Oregon. The contractor was Matt Green, who later would build Vikingsholm at Emerald Bay. That popular tourist attraction is now owned by California State Parks.

The Drum estate hosted extravagant parties and notable visitors, including Charles Lindbergh, who visited in 1927 just months after his historic trans-Atlantic flight. It was purchased in 1961 by Erik Jonsson, former mayor of Dallas and founder of Texas Instruments.

The article quotes Mark Jonsson, Erik’s grandson: “I suspect all the movers and shakers of San Francisco probably went through there at some time. If the walls could talk, I think they’ve seen a lot of things.”

Jonsson said difficulties of multiple-family-member ownership make it necessary to sell the property.

“I’ve been there every summer of my life,” he said. “It’s just nothing but good memories. I’m sorry to see us have to sell it.”


The estate has 10 acres and nearly 750 feet of lakeshore. Buildings include the main lodge, three guest cottages, a modern, four-bedroom lakefront home, a boat house, tennis court and two piers.

The property has been toured in the past by officials from the California Tahoe Conservancy and California State Parks, but Jonsson said he’s unaware of any active plans to acquire the estate for the public. Jonsson wouldn’t mind, either. “Then I would still be able to visit,” he said.

What was especially interesting was that when the estate sold in March 2017 it consisted of two separate parcels owned by two different families. My understanding is that the buyer got the neighboring parcel into contract on January 9 then approached the Jonssons about selling the property with the historic lodge on it. Once they agreed the estate was destined to become one again. We’ll see what the future holds for this iconic piece of The Big Blue Lake…

Sources for this post:

Tahoe Sierra MLS


Magical West Shore Homewood Lakefront: 50% Share $1.799m

This is a Homewood lakefront cabin built in the early 1900’s and owned by the same family ever since.

5240 West Lake Boulevard is a magical place in central Homewood. A half-interest in this generational property is now being offered for $1,799,000 – half of the family is going to enjoy another property they own nearby; the other half plans to remain as your partner to usher in the next century of this Tahoe Legacy. Located across the street from Homewood Mountain Resort and right between the High & Dry Marina and Obexer’s, this is truly the Best of the West Shore.

Large, level lot with fantastic views from the lakeside deck. Nice living area with gorgeous hearth and gas burning insert. One buoy in deep water. Home is not fully winterized at this point but it is truly one of the best summer settings possible. Walk to everything in Homewood. The 6-bedroom, 2000 square foot home has been incredibly well maintained (interior photos 5/12).

We are at the beginning stages of marketing but you are welcome to enjoy this first cut of our aerial drone video and still images also taken from where the ospreys soar. Operating Agreement for property’s use, maintenance, etc. is in process and will be available for review by interested parties upon completion.

DJI_0062.00_31_50_06.Still015 DJI_0062.00_29_04_12.Still014 DJI_0062.00_23_16_15.Still013 DJI_0062.00_15_11_15.Still010 DJI_0062.00_15_18_19.Still011 DJI_0062.00_18_22_23.Still012 DJI_0062.00_22_41_15.Still016 DJI_0062.00_14_13_08.Still009 DJI_0062.00_12_24_21.Still008 DJI_0062.00_11_47_20.Still017 DJI_0062.00_11_24_00.Still001 DJI_0062.00_10_38_11.Still007 DJI_0062.00_10_08_19.Still006 DJI_0062.00_09_28_12.Still002 DJI_0062.00_03_56_08.Still005 DJI_0062.00_15_11_15.Still010 DJI_0062.00_14_13_08.Still009 DJI_0062.00_03_31_19.Still003 DJI_0062.00_03_45_02.Still004 DJI_0062.00_15_18_19.Still011

Get in Touch with Alex

Photos of Every Pier that’s for Sale

Piers are a highly-sought after commodity here at the Lake. There is currently a planning moratorium so no new piers are being granted until our regional planning board irons things out. In Tahoe Sierra MLS, which reaches from Rubicon’s Gold Coast to Historic Old Brockway, there were almost no sales last year of homes without piers. This year the market is stronger so pierless homes are selling. They actually account for half the sales thus far in 2016 (see Lakefront Market Summary here).

Curious what’s for sale with a dock?

Here are pier photos of every active lakefront listing that has one. I know them well including the water depth at most – I’m happy to go out and take a new measurement at your request…

Buyers – see all active lakefront listings here

Sellers – get introduced to Alex’s marketing and sales process here

Note: Prices and availability are from 4/28/16 and will change over time so get in touch for the latest status.

Get in Touch with Alex

Kings Beach Elementary receives California Gold Ribbon Award

Great stuff for those who are considering or already send their kids to the Spanish immersion elementary school in Kings Beach:

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2016 California Gold Ribbon Schools Award

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that 779 elementary schools are being honored under the Gold Ribbon Schools Awards Program

The list of recognized schools is attached at the end of this press release.

“These schools shine as bright beacons for others, putting forth an exemplary effort to ensure that every student is ready for 21st century college and careers,” Torlakson said. “California teachers are developing an education model for the nation, training the students of today to be the problem-solvers, inventors, and pioneers of tomorrow.”

The California Gold Ribbon Schools Award was created to honor schools in place of the California Distinguished Schools Program, which is on hiatus while California creates new assessment and accountability systems. Nearly 6,000 elementary schools were eligible to apply this year.

Schools applied for the award based on a model program or practice their school has adopted that includes standards-based activities, projects, strategies, and practices that can be replicated by other local educational agencies. The award recognized middle and high schools last year.

The Gold Ribbon Awards recognize California schools that have made gains in implementing the academic content and performance standards adopted by the State Board of Education. These include the California Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics, California English Language Development Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards.

The 2016 Elementary Gold Ribbon Schools as well as the 2016 Exemplary Program recipients, Title I Academic Achieving Schools, 2016 Green Ribbon Schools, 2016 Civic Learning Award Schools, and the National Blue Ribbon Schools from 2015, will be honored in May/June during regional ceremonies held in Santa Clara, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Visalia, and Sacramento.

The Gold Ribbon Schools being recognized for Exemplary Programs in Arts Education and Physical Education and Nutrition, or receiving the Title I Academic Achievement Award, will be announced soon.

Please visit the California Gold Ribbon Schools Program on the California Department of Education’s (CDE’s) Web site.

The CDE California School Recognition Program is presented by San Mateo-based California Casualty.

See the list of schools here.

Get in Touch with Alex



Dollar Point Market Report

2015 was a great year for Dollar Point. It represents the highest volume of sales ever but not the greatest number of homes sold. There was one low sale under $500k which is very rare (multiple offers). There was a cluster of sales between $900k – $1.05m. There were two high-end sales near $3m (Chase International represented one of these buyers) plus my record-breaking listing which closed at $8.2m.

Total sales volume over the last 5 years has ranged from $8.3m (2011 anomaly year) to nearly $30m. The number of sales per year is usually between 15-20. Here’s how the neighborhood has performed over the last four years:

Year Total Volume # Homes Sold Days on Market Ave. Price Median Price
2015 $29.4m 20 98 $1.47m $913k
2014 $26.6m 15 76 $1.77m $1.2m
2013* $22.7m 15 65 $924k $785k
2012 $28.7m 23 188 $1.25m $855k

*Includes one off-MLS lakefront sale.

See all active listings in Dollar Point here

Get in Touch with Alex

3266 Edgewater Drive. Sold by Alex for $8.199m, July 2015.

3266 Edgewater Drive. Sold by Alex for $8.199m, July 2015.

Tahoe Lakefront Market Summary

Tahoe lakefront values don’t always rise and fall with the lake level but there was an interesting phenomenon last year: the lake was down considerably and lakefronts sold very well. However, properties without piers had an exceptionally tough time. For those with piers, it didn’t matter if they were wet or dry – even if you could run a lawnmower underneath the pier, the home could sell. Overall this makes sense – buyers were sensitive to a low lake level and it manifested in protecting one’s investment by buying a home with a pier. However, you’d think that the ones which were dry beyond the pierhead would have had to compete with nicer homes which only had buoys. That was not the case. Of the 26 sales in 2015, only was without a pier; 2 had HOA piers next door. To see the piers that go with all the current lakefront listings, click here.

As compared to other years, 2015 was great. It was the second largest year on MLS history for lakefront sales. There was the huge sale by Chase International of an Old Brockway estate for $28.5m. I gave a number of tours of this estate and the grounds – it was absolutely impressive. Another highlight was one of my sellers and I breaking a record in Dollar Point with a sale for $8.2m.

I find it interesting to compare the coveted Tahoe lakefront niche with nearby areas simply to put it into perspective. If you’re following Martis Camp, you know it is one of the hottest luxury developments in the US. Last year Martis sold 22 homes for $101m. The Tahoe lakefront marketplace goes practically unnoticed and sells 35% more volume – amazing.

Year Total Volume # Homes Sold Days on Market Ave. Price Median Price
2015* $135m 26 170 $5.6m $4.2m
2014 $121m 30 163 $4m $3.1m
2013* $95.5m 23 203 $4m $3.5m
2012 $150m 32 338 $4.6m $3.2m

*2013 and 2015 each include one off-MLS sale. 2015 = Chase International’s listing which sold for the highest number in years: $28.5m. 2013 = $8.9m. 

See all lakefront listings here


My Notes on previous years:

2015 was an interesting year for Tahoe lakefronts. It opened with a North Shore compound selling quickly for $7.8m with multiple offers. One of the last sales of the year also saw multiple offers – it was a bankruptcy for $9.95m. Overall volume was roughly 10% greater than the year before. The average and median prices jumped considerably.

2014 was a very good year for Tahoe lakefront sales. It was on pace with 2012 until the fall. Total volume was $121 million. 2013 was a bit of a hangover from the frantic year that preceded it.

See my Lakefront Sales Maps 2011 – 2013.

2013 saw half the lakefront sales volume that occurred in 2012. This had to do with impending tax changes in 2013 which created an incentive for high-level estate planning to be completed by the end of 2012. December 2012 is the biggest single month on record with $51m in closed lakefront business. To put that in perspective, 2013’s entire lakefront volume was $86m.

2012 was a banner year for Tahoe lakefront property sales: volume doubled from the year before to $173 million, 37 properties traded, 5 sales were over $10m. This is still the biggest year on record in Tahoe Sierra MLS history. During the last few summers there have been high points where 8-9 lakefronts are in escrow simultaneously. What was so significant about 2012 was that this happened not only in midsummer but in December, as well.

What is also interesting are the sales over $10m. From 2007-2011 there were 5 transactions over this benchmark – in 2012 alone there were 5. There was also activity well above this. Click here to see Alex quoted in an article on the sale of an Incline Village property for $25.5m. A property in Glenbrook sold in February 2013 for $20m. Although it was at a different level ($5m-$10m) the last time the lakefront marketplace acted thus was during the 90’s Gold Rush. Tahoe lakefronts all ratcheted up immediately afterward. I believe the same thing is happening now and it can be evidenced by the 2015 Chase International sales of $28.5m and $30m. We just listed an estate for $35m.

If you’ve been considering upgrading, buying or selling a lakefront property, feel free to reach out.

Get in Touch with Alex

Tahoe’s ever changing Lake Level

We are right at the natural rim of the Lake! Tahoe has risen about an inch this month. In early March it rose 1/2″ in a day and a half. For the middle of winter, this is a significant amount of water entering the Lake. The graph above shows that the measuring buoy was dry through mid-January.

Tahoe has risen roughly 10″ since winter started. According to the Watermaster, who I talk to throughout the year, after a normal winter (450″ of snow) the Lake rises about 18″. Another expert told me it can rise 3 feet from an average winter. Of course, the big variable is how much water Reno takes. The 6′ of water above Tahoe’s natural rim is  reservoir for Reno.

USGS DescriptionElevation (ft)

Maximum legal limit 6,229.1

Natural rim of lake 6,223

Gage Datum 6,220

Note: Current lake elevation = 6,220 + Current gage height.

When I lived at West Shore lakefront I watched the Lake rise at what seemed like an inch per day. It was amazing. A friend had lived there the previous 5 years and the pier was unusable the entire time. After the big spring when I lived there, we were doing flips of the pier and catching fish at sunset.

There’s a great article on ‘Tahoe’s Water Wars’ that I link to below but first, here is a quote from it:

“Armed confrontations were barely averted between Tahoe residents and hired hands doing the bidding of farmers in Fallon. In the middle of a hot August night in 1930, Nevada “water interests” sent a steam shovel under police escort to the Tahoe Dam to dig a trench around it on land owned by Sierra Pacific Power Co. (successor to the Truckee River General Electric Co.) A violent clash between Tahoe locals and the Nevada crew was narrowly avoided when a deputy sheriff issued a cease and desist order to the steam shovel operator. Tahoe residents stood guard at the dam all night as rumors spread that Nevadans might be tempted to blast an opening in the natural rim with dynamite. The following night, the steam shovel was vandalized and the newly dug ditch partially filled back in. A court injunction soon put a stop to Nevada’s bold but illegal attempt to bypass the dam.” Click here to read entire article.

Get in Touch with Alex

Success comes from the heart

Luxury Magazine Chase Spring 2016 e1-11

Click to see our Quarterly Report Magazine

The Leader in Tahoe Luxury Sales

Luxury Magazine Chase Spring 2016 e1-4