Lakefront Market Summary – End of Summer 2017

There is an almost magical interaction occurring between Tahoe recreation and the real estate market. This is a combination not to be ignored by those considering selling.

The lake rose over 5 feet this year. This changed the complexion of the shoreline everywhere. Some beaches are completely gone. Others have become extremely private because they are unreachable except by water.  The Truckee River will flow all year. Squaw had a glorious, long, historical season.

Development is back – spec homes and new developments are going in everywhere. I listed and sold out the first brand new lakefront condos in 30 years; see Tahoe Beachfront Residences. Also, a new 100-room, four-star condotel is slated for Tahoe City next year.

Chase International had another successful Lakefront Estates Tour in June. This is the largest and longest-running real estate event at Tahoe. Historically we attribute 2-3 sales per year to the Tour. 

Emerald Bay Sunrise

Lake Level: From January to May last year, the lake went up 1 foot. This year it rose almost 6′ which broke numerous records. at one point the lake level hit the maximum legal limit. You can see that it peaked in July and is now receding.




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data which created the charts

2016_Year-End STATS Lakefront_TOTALS-2


2017 Mid-Year Analysis

2017 Mid-Year Analysis: In looking at the entire Tahoe Sierra MLS market, 2017 is behind by roughly 10%. The difference is exactly equal to the drop in volume at Martis Camp. Sales between $500k – $1m increased 10% since last year.

In the Tahoe Basin, sales are right on par with where they were to this point in 2016. Luxury sales over $1m are up significantly but the majority of that difference happened in one sale.

A Closer Look at the Numbers:

Overall, there were reductions in sales under $500,000 and also in luxury sales over $1,000,000. There is a 28-unit differential in sub-$500k sales creating an $11m drop in volume. Over $4m, there were 9 sales thus far in 2016; this year there have been 4.

Under $500k, there is no geography behind the shortfall – it’s market-wide. Time on market is down 40% so it’s becoming apparent that the difference is due to a lack of inventory as opposed to lack of buyers, eg. a colleague of mine received 4 offers on an entry level home in Kingswood Estates last month.

As mentioned there is a shortfall at the high-end – the two places most affected are Martis Camp and Tahoe lakefronts.

Martis Camp is still the most robust high end market in all of Tahoe-Truckee. Six homes averaging $3.6m have already sold this year. But when compared to last year the number of sales is down 40% and volume is less than half. This is due to 5 sales over $5m including the 3rd highest sale in Martis Camp history occurring in 2016 year to date.

Tahoe lakefronts are a much less definable market especially in winter and spring. For example, the historic Drum Estate was just reassembled and closed for $29.75m – this puts the lakefront numbers ahead of last year. 

One area seeing significant improvement are condominiums over $500k. The number of sales and overall volume are up 30% and 40% respectively.


In 2016: The combined Tahoe-Truckee markets outperformed 2015 by 6% in total volume and the number of sales. There was a major jump in activity over $1m which increased 65% – 280 sales up from 187. The number of sales under $500k saw a slight increase – 604 up from 585.

An interesting phenomenon was the percentage growth in sales over $1m which was exactly equal to the reduction in the percentage of sales under $500k. In 2016 homes over $1m accounted for 15% (up 5%) of all sales, while properties under $500k represented 41% (down 5%) of all sales. As one can see, this is a market with rising prices and one in which our buyer pool’s overall wealth is increasing.

Breaking things down and looking solely at the Tahoe Basin sales were slightly down and the average + median prices inched up. Time on market was about the same since 2015 at 101 days. Truckee + Tahoe Donner increased 17%.

The biggest jump in a micro-market year-over-year was at Northstar. The number of sales and volume tripled. Units was 16 vs. 43; volume was $16m vs. $58m. One of the biggest jumps was the uber-high neighborhood, Martis Camp. Volume and sales more than doubled in a year. 22 sales vs. 49 in 2016. Average prices remained about the same and, as one would expect, time on market is down significantly.

Multiple offers occur here but they are not consistent except among the lowest price bands. We have seen a major reduction in listing inventory which plays well for sellers. There have been many instances of buyers hunting down homes which are off-market. Alex has been involved with numerous properties that experienced this. They usually start with buyers’ agents calling Alex knowing that he often has upcoming listings and good seller relationships.

As mentioned above this kind of activity is often neighborhood or niche specific. Generally speaking, and due to the nature of this resort area, Tahoe is in a par market with buyers and sellers on equal footing.


“We are very happy with the deal, Alex. You made it happen and you are a hero.”

– Neil and Karen B. Sellers of 3266 Edgewater. Closed price $8,199,000. Record breaking lakefront sale in Dollar Point.


“We enjoyed working with you and will be in touch when we want to sell more property. Thanks again for getting it sold.”

– Bonnie and Ken. Forty-year Tahoe residents with multiple properties and businesses. Had previously worked with another agent.


Quick Market Data

For incredibly detailed, geographical market stats please visit this page on our site.

Tahoe Basin, single family and condominium sales

Year Total Volume # Homes Sold Ave. Days on Market Ave. Price Median Price
2016 $351m 408  101  $859k $555k
2015 $371m 434 106 $856k $535k
2014 $396m 346 101 $874k $511k
2013 $420m 307 107 $733k $471k
2012 $367m 465 130 $789k $400k


Truckee-Tahoe Donner, single family and condominium sales

Year Total Volume # Homes Sold Days on Market Ave. Price Median Price
2016 $372 614 62 $610k $540k
2015 $312m 543 63 $575k $502k
2014 $282m 489 64 $577k $500k
2013 $314m 582 68 $539k $479k
2012 $257m 575 96 $448k $409k


Kingswood Mid-Summer Analysis and 2016 Info

Emerald Bay Sunrise

In Kingswood and Kingswood West earlier this year there were just 4 homes on the market and 4 in escrow. Currently there are 5 homes on the market and 3 in contract; offerings range from $629k to $1.15m. So far 7 homes have sold this year; this is similar to activity last year. See all active listings in Kingswood here.

In 2016, Kingswood Estates and Kingswood West had a record year. Sales volume was up 68% hitting $20m for the first time ever. The average sales price climbed $100,000 – wow! Classic ‘neighborhood’ homes are selling well – one recently had multiple offers – but the big news is in speculation (aka “spec”) homes + the very high-end. There were 4 sales over $1,000,000 as opposed to just one in 2015.

As mentioned above, an interesting facet to Kingswood’s micro-market is that new construction is here. One spec home sold in 2015, 4 closed last year. There is one on the market now for $1.09m and more will hit the market soon.

Dollar Point Early Summer Analysis + 2016 vs. 2015

Emerald Bay Sunrise

Under $1.25 million in Dollar Point is en fuego now with 3 homes in escrow – 2 were on the market for 6 and 20 days respectively.  This is quite impressive given that the average time on market in this area is roughly 100 days. We saw this in 2016 but what’s interesting about the activity now is that it is hitting before the summer season.  There are only 5 active listings in Dollar Point. The number of homes offered for sale is usually between 15-20.  See all listings here.

Some 2016 highlights: Five of the 23 sales in 2016 we are at or over the asking price. A lakeview home on MLS at $2.7m had multiple offers. A panoramic lakeview home on Edgecliff Court sold for $3.6m; another pano lakeview in need of updating sold for $2.4m. A soulful lakefront fixer – many called it a teardown – was offered for $4.3m but was rejected by the market.

2016 year-over-year volume in Dollar Point ended up slightly behind 2015. The number of sales, time on market, average and median prices were all similar to 2015. It should be stated that one of the 2015 sales was Alex’s for $8.199m which skews the data a bit.  Dollar Point is highly desirable. Total sales volume over the last 6 years has ranged from $8.3m in the anomaly year of 2011 to the upper-$20m’s during ‘normal’ years.

See my 2015 Dollar Point year-end summary here



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

3266 Edgewater Drive. Sold by Alex for $8.199m.

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Luxury Magazine Chase Spring 2016 e1-11

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