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Tahoe real estate inventory can't keep up with demand

Tahoe has always been a refuge for the Bay Area, a haven of ski and lake homes that provide the expansive home footprint we can only dream about in San Francisco.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, especially with no end in sight, real estate agents are reporting a record-breaking year for home sales and an overall change in how the market itself operates. Unlike the Bay Area, sellers weren't typically presented with multiple offers or bids that were over-asking.

"What people are willing to do now to buy here, they maybe wouldn't have been willing to do a year ago," said Jamie Moore, a principal agent for Redfin. "You had homes that sat [on the market] for a year, and all of sudden you have multiple offers. It's nothing I've seen before."

She added that the offers have also been more aggressive, often coming in without appraisal or inspection contingencies. While this is common in the Bay Area, it's not something the Tahoe market usually sees.

Inventory is also historically low. In June 2019, there were 817 properties on the market and 127 sold in that month, according to the Tahoe Sierra MLS. In June 2020 there were only 408 on the market, 212 sold.

Redfin had similar findings in its data, with active listings in Tahoe down about 10% in April, 21% in May and 22% in June from 2019.

"The buyer pool feels like its doubled or even tripled, and the seller pool has greatly reduced," said Katherina Haug, Sales Associate with Sierra Sotheby's International Realty. "Our inventory is so low right now. Something comes on the market and almost every property is getting multiple offers and at asking or over-asking."

Google announced last week its workers won't go back into the office until at least July 2021, while other tech giants like Facebook and Apple said they won't send employees back until 2021. Coupled with schooling being conducted largely online in the fall, many families have reason to flee to the area.

While most agents agree there's a large number of Bay Area tech workers with newly granted remote work environments interested in the area, Susan Lowe, senior vice president and corporate broker for Chase International, said she thinks there's also a greater proportion of people coming from all throughout California and even from Nevada. "What I see differently is a mindset change," she said. "I believe people had time to reflect on what's important in life while they were secluded at home. They want a place to come that's safe and a better quality of life."

Lowe said she recently sold a home that had 14 showings in four days and it received five offers. That kind of volume was something she'd never seen before this summer.

"People just want to be here at all costs," she said. "The world is discovering that Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places in the world."

Tessa McLean is a digital editor with SFGATE. Email her at tessa.mclean@sfgate.com or follow her on Twitter @mcleantessa.

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