Lakefront Market Overview

2017 lakefront volume is ahead of last year by 44%. The number of sales is up slightly: 12 vs. 10, year to date. There has been a gap between $5.7m and the Drum Estate deal for $28.975m in March. However, that is filling in somewhat with current escrows at $8.9m and $5.9m. There are 6 lakefronts in escrow now. This is the beginning of what I classify as ‘very busy.’ We can get up to 9 in escrow at a time which is about the most you’ll see at once.

Activity at the highest-end is typically an indicator of good things for the entire lakefront market. The Drum Estate is the highest sale in TSMLS records. This nudged out a 2015 Chase international sale in Historic Old Brockway for $28.5m. In our MLS there are three listings above $20m currently, the highest of which is a legacy estate with acreage on Sunnyside Lane for $32m.

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. Alex listed the first brand new lakefront condos in 30 years and we are almost sold out, 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.

In 2016: There were 5 fewer sales and 16% less volume than 2015 (please note that I take into account sales which are not reported in MLS – there were 3 last year). Half of the sales in 2016 were at homes which had piers. 2016 saw 3 sales over $10m. In 2015 there was only one – a Chase International sale for $28m. On the opposite end of the spectrum, 2016 had 2 sales under $2m; 2015 had none. I sold a 50% shared interest in a 7th-generation family cabin in Homewood. There was one bankruptcy sale in each of the last two years. In addition, there were some very interesting transactional incidents that occurred in 2016 – I had direct contact with a number of them.

In sales volume, 2016 was behind 2015 until the fall when 2 large estates sold. These sales caught the lakefront market up to 2015. However, the end of 2016 was very quiet on the lakefront: 2 sales in 2016 vs. 7 in 2015. So overall volume was down due to those nice sales in the early winter of 2015 including one for $9.75m which had 5 offers.

The quantity of lakefront properties offered for sale in 2016 was typically in the 20’s which is quite low.  We typically see 40+ lakefronts offered for sale. But don’t let this fool you. There is always a lot of interesting action in the lakefront marketplace. I share detailed updates with lakefront buyers and owners who, over the years, have requested to receive this privileged information – reach out to be included. I anticipated the low lakefront inventory to continue through 2017 and this has been the case. This can be a benefit for sellers in a market with a buyer pool as strong as Northern California.

2016_Year-End STATS Lakefront_TOTALS-1

2015 was a difficult one for homes without piers but that turned around. At one point almost half of the sales in 2016 were at homes without piers. Two of these were over $6m and two more were in the $4m’s. To see photos of the piers that belong to the lakefront homes listed for sale at some point in 2016, click here.

2015 saw a healthy jump in lakefront volume over 2014. Multiple offers were seen on a handful of the 26 total sales. All sales had piers except for one. Three high-end sales occurred off-market. The lower end had some stagnant offerings a few of which eventually sold; the others were rejected by buyers. There was some sideways lakefront moving among existing owners but not nearly as much as 2014. There was one bankruptcy sale. The new owner put it back on the market at $12m and and closed it for $11m.

As mentioned above, the highest 2015 sale was a Chase International listing in “Historic Old Brockway” called Crayfish Cove. It was listed for $34,000,000. Alex’s sale at $8.199m was the third highest recorded in MLS in 2015.

Year Total Volume # Homes Sold Ave. Days on Market Ave. Price Median Price
2016* $121m 21 182 $5.9m $4.8m
2015* $145m 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

*2016 includes 3 off-market sales. 2013 and 2015 each include one off-MLS sale. 2015’s was Chase International’s listing which sold for the highest number in years. 2013’s was for $8.9m.


“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.


Tahoe Lakefronts are a market unto themselves. Selling them has traditionally been done in an old school way – take some nice photos, put them on MLS and tell buyers the same story over and over.

I have a different approach.

Selling Tahoe lakefronts well requires expertise, knowledge, attention and high-level marketing. I meet with top lakefront planners to know the maximum potential of every individual property. I target the most likely buyer pools and effectively reaches them with creative, quality marketing. I know off-market sales and tracks buyer activity across the board. I measure water depths at piers and buoys. During showings I don’t pitch buyers but rather make them feel comfortable. I learn what they are looking for and perform every showing differently.

The results speak for themselves. My sale of a Dollar Point home for $8.199m represents the highest dollar amount ever for a North Shore property under 5000′. His clients got 25% more than the lakefront MLS average price per square foot. See the website Alex created which was critical to this success:

There are a multitude of other things I do differently. I work with Chase International because of its track record, reputation and its incredibly powerful network. Click here to see how Tahoe brokerages rank in the luxury marketplace.





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data which created the charts

2016_Year-End STATS Lakefront_TOTALS-2