Archives for January 2012

Hurricane Bay Lakefront – Not on MLS

A new listing hit the underground market this week in Hurricane Bay. This is one of the most sought-after locations for West Shore lakefronts because of the deep water near shore and proximity to Tahoe City and Homewood. The price is roughly $6.5m and the property has had numerous showings in the last few days. There’s a good chance this one could sell with multiple offers in under 10 days.

A $10m lakefront in Carnelian Bay (Flick Point) is scheduled to close today and I’ll update the Notable Sales blog when it does.

Click here to see all Tahoe lakefronts on the MLS

Truckee Low End = High Speed

Truckee’s lowest-end homes are flying off the shelves…kinda. Check it out:


  • 6 Active listings (homes for sale). Of these 3 are REO/foreclosures, 2 are short sales, 1 “standard” sale
  • 17 homes in escrow right now – incredible. 7 are REO’s, 7 more are short sales, 3 are “standard” sales
  • 2 closed sales in the last month, both were REO’s

Pond Skating Lake Tahoe

Well, it’s not exactly pond skating on the Lake itself but there is tons of pond ice, and hockey, in the Tahoe / Truckee area. I grew up playing pond hockey back East and this normally-pre-season sport is one of my favorites. For fun, I freelance write and photograph for outdoors magazines. My most recent is a piece on this awesome activity that I’ve put together for one of our most prominent local papers, The Weekly. The article is coming out Feb. 9 and here’s a teaser:

“Many folks don’t realize it but Tahoe has a Two Act Winter. The Second is the reason most of us moved out here – Pacific Maritime dumps and the deepest, most ridiculous powder days imaginable. But the First Act is what’s such a surprise: the ever-changing, and never-consistent, Tahoe pond skating season. I’m always caught off guard, and hugely pleased, when I get that first text from the guy who organizes daily skates in his neighborhood. Like presents under a tree, the skating season here surprises and excites me every year. It starts discretely in the higher elevations and then slowly moves down to lake level. By the time you see people on the roadside pond in Tahoe Vista there’s already been a month of hockey under the belts of numerous players around town. But the beauty of a frozen pond is that anyone can enjoy it on their own terms and without any gear whatsoever. The other day there were kids and dogs spilling out of sleds on a local pond – not one had skates on….”

I’ll post the rest once the article is out in the paper. Until then, let’s hope for some more snow…!

Storm Jacobs Ice Skate in Coldstream Canyon, Truckee, CA

Storm Jacobs Ice Skate in Coldstream Canyon, Truckee, CA

Two Interesting Sales

Two notable (!) sales happened since the start of the year. They are both in PDF format at the links below. One was a million dollar home with a million dollar mortgage that just closed as a short sale for an unbelievable $532,500. The other is an Agate Bay split lakefront (meaning house on one side of North Lake Blvd, more land and, in this case, a pier and buoys on the lake across the street). This one was listed for $1.8m and when the price was lowered to $1.399m it found a new owner. Final sales price was $1m.

9321 Bass Ave Short Sale Sales Sheet PDF

6103 North Lake Blvd Split Lakefront Agate Bay Sales Sheet



Winter on the Way?

Looks like the Snow Dance by the Washo mentioned in the last blog post worked…!

In the last few years a couple weather blogs have popped up in Tahoe. These are great sources of info. Compilations of pertinent weather maps, satellite images, high and low pressure images, etc. Before these folks were around each of us had our own little Bookmarked Weather Stations on our laptops. We’d check what we thought were the lead indicators and then surmise the week’s weather from there. During this time, we all heard about some guy in Mammoth who had a weather blog going and it was fantastically popular. Obviously some people up here thought it was our time and so now we have two main sites: TahoeWeatherDiscussion and TahoeWeatherGeek. I have no idea what kind of credentials are carried by the writers. They could be glorified bookmarkers – but they spend the time and I have to assume their base level of knowledge is greater than mine! Enough for the introductions – here’s a link and some copy from the Geek’s most recent post. Looks like we’re going to finally get something:

Oh, by the way, the Geek has an e-newsletter up for Thursday/storm updates – I just signed up…

Snow in Tahoe by Thursday night

January 18, 2012 by Tahoe Loco
Filed under Weather Geek

Remember winter?

It’s finally about to start, folks.

The leading edge of the first in a series of storms is moving into Oregon and far Northern California this morning. This system will mainly affect the Cascades and the far Northern Sierra, where a few inches of snow are possible.

The next system is due Thursday and should reach Tahoe by Thursday afternoon.

Snow levels will start out around 7000 feet before falling Thursday night.

It looks like this wave has the potential to drop about six inches of snow on the higher elevations and an inch or two around the lake by Friday morning.

After a short lull, the biggest and warmest storm in this series is on track for a Friday arrival. Snow levels will likely rise again as the warm Pacific moisture plume pushes in ahead of the cold air from the north. At first we will probably see rain below about 7500 feet. But snow levels should drop by Saturday morning as the front moves through, and that should be soon enough to deposit several more inches of snow around the lake. Above 7500 or 8000 feet we should see a total of about two feet from these first two storms.

After another break a third storm is due on Sunday. The forecast models are still in conflict about the timing. Some models show the next storm arriving late Saturday or early Sunday, and others not until later on Sunday. Either way it will be the coldest of the bunch, and it looks like it has the potential to give us at least a foot of snow at Lake level and a bit more above the mountain passes.

Beyond that things are murkier. One forecast model shows a ridge of high pressure building and the start of a drying trend, while another leaves the storm door open for at least another day or two.

But for now let’s focus on what seems likely: at least two to three feet of snow above 8000 feet, with a foot or snow below the mountain passes. That might be a bit on the conservative side. But we don’t want to oversell this and be disappointed if the big snow totals fail to materialize.

Have fun. Be safe.

Stay tuned for more details as the week unfolds.

Washo Snow Dance this Sunday

Tahoe Snow Globe

Tahoe Snow Globe

Classic Tahoe – on a bare winter, it used to be a few ski bums out at the old Lucky’s grocery in Tahoe City with a tip jar and some 5-gallon buckets for a “Come on Winter” Car Wash. Now we’re getting serious – the tribe native to Tahoe, the Washo, are going to do a Snow Dance as the culmination of the West Shore Association’s Olympic Heritage Week. Here’s the press release:

History repeats this coming Sunday at Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park as the Eagle Wings Dance Group, descendents of the Paiute, Shoshone and Washo Tribes will be offering traditional songs and dances sacred to the tribes represented to the Creator-God in thanks as part of the Closing Ceremonies for Olympic Heritage Celebration week.

An absence of January snow in the Sierra posed similar planning concerns for the organizers of this week’s Olympic Heritage Celebration events as for the organizers of the VIII Winter Olympic Games, Nordic events, held on Lake Tahoe’s west shore in 1960.  The nervous organizers of those original Olympics brought in Great Basin dancers to encourage snowfall.

“No snow coverage has presented problems, but has also opened a door to history”, Said Heidi Doyle, the Volunteer and Interpretation Program Manager for California State Parks in the Lake Tahoe Area.  “Sugar Pine Point State Park was the summer home of the Washo peoples and we are thrilled that their traditions will return to the West Shore of Lake Tahoe this winter,” said Doyle.

“The lack of rain and snow has been a concern in the Native community, as well”, says Lois Kane the Language and Culture Coordinator of the Reno Sparks Indian Colony. The Eagle Wing Dance group performance will conclude with a round dance in which all are invited to participate.  “We could end up with one large round dance with all of the people dancing and praying for snow, said Kane.

Athletes from around the world came to Lake Tahoe to participate in the 1960 Winter Olympic Games. The biathlon and cross country events of the VIII Winter Games were held in what is now Ed Z’Berg Sugar Pine Point State Park.  Portions of the marked Nordic trails, found within the State park, follow the route of the biathlon and men’s events. Olympic Heritage Celebration week celebrates the spirit of athleticism and highlights the unique cultural heritage found within the park and our region.

Past Olympians, officials, and dignitaries from the 1960 Nordic events will also be on hand to commemorate the end of a week celebrating our Olympic Heritage.   The ceremony will take place at Sugar Pine Point State Park in front of a ¼ scale replica of the Tower of Nations that stands at the entrance to Squaw Valley.  The park is located on Highway 89 mid point on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, just south of Tahoma.  The Closing Ceremonies begin at 2:30pm and there is a $8 per vehicle parking fee.

Fed to Keep Interest Rates Low

The New York Times just ran a piece on the Fed’s decision to keep interest rates low for the next year. Of course, this is great news for those who have continued to wait and see where the market is headed. Here is a link to the NY Times article.


How Low Can Rates Go?

The New York Times:
Published: December 29, 2011

IF your New Year’s resolutions include buying a house or refinancing, the Federal Reserve has you covered. It has committed to keep long-term interest rates low through next year, so a 30-year mortgage will be pegged about where it is now — 4.32 percent in New York — at least through spring, said Frank E. Nothaft, the chief economist at Freddie Mac.

“Rates are very much at the bottom,” Mr. Nothaft said. But, he added, they may start inching up in the second half of the year. “If you’re planning to refinance, do it sooner rather than later.”

In order to cash in fully on some of the lowest interest rates ever recorded, buyers and owners need to start taking steps now, experts say. Rather than look for a house you really want, they suggest first finding out how much money you can afford to borrow, and what you can do in the next three to six months to improve your creditworthiness.

“Sometimes it takes a few extra months to get your ducks in a row,” particularly if there are mistakes or blemishes on your credit report, said Gene Tricozzi, the president of Northern Funding Corporation, a mortgage brokerage in Clifton Park, N.Y. If your score is below 700, your mortgage interest rate could be a quarter to a half percentage point higher than for those with stronger scores, experts say.

Start by ordering copies of your credit reports and reviewing them for inaccuracies or disputes. Tracy Becker, the president of North Shore Advisory Inc., a credit restoration company in Tarrytown, N.Y., suggests doing this a year in advance, if possible, to give yourself ample time to fix any issues, like an inadvertently missed payment or an address error.

Do not close any credit accounts now; doing so can reduce your score by as much as 60 points, she said, adding that banks like to see two to four accounts in the applicant’s name.

Once your credit score is established, identify two or three mortgage bankers or brokers whom you may want to work with. Ask friends, people in your religious or social circles, or your accountant for recommendations. Then do the due diligence on each candidate and meet with them to see who is the best fit.

Determine what your down payment and other out-of-pocket costs will be as you figure out what you can afford to buy. Use a mortgage calculator, or ask the mortgage officers to give you a range that would be comfortable.

Closing costs may be more difficult to estimate because they usually include prepaid real estate taxes and various fees for title insurance, mortgage taxes and more. Total closing costs in 2010 on a $200,000 mortgage were $3,843 in Connecticut and $6,183 in New York state, according to research by in June.

Those figures exclude association fees, prepaid items and state taxes, which in New York City and a few other places can run 1.9 percent of the loan value for the mortgage recording tax.

It is a good idea to discuss your plan to buy a home with a financial planner or accountant. Your tax adviser may be able to guide you on tax deductions and decisions for your 2011 return. Some mortgages, including those offered by the Federal Housing Administration and those made to self-employed individuals, require two years of tax returns.

In those cases, taxpayers may want to be “a little less aggressive” with deductions so the income figure looks stronger, said Matt Hackett, the underwriting manager of Equity Now, a direct mortgage lender based in New York..

Finally, keep an eye on those interest rates. Mr. Nothaft expects the 30-year fixed mortgage rate to end the year “well below 5 percent” — which could still mean a 0.75-point increase a year from now.