There is no sugar coating the fact that the past two months have presented the Lake Tahoe/Truckee area with a host of challenges. Between a global pandemic that heavily impacted tourism, an influx of remote workers adding pressure to the local housing market, light winter snowpack, and several weeks of fire danger and smoke pollution, our community has been through the wringer. The Caldor Fire that broke out on Aug. 14 presented the greatest fire threat so far to the Basin communities. Its spread along Highway 50 and the Grizzly Flats area resulted in thick smoke and evacuation orders for the city of South Lake Tahoe.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of fire fighters from CALFire and supporting agencies from both California and Nevada, South Lake Tahoe residents were able to begin returning home within a week of evacuation. The Caldor fire is currently 71% contained and presents no immediate threat to the Basin. North Lake Tahoe and the West Shore are experiencing clearer skies. As the temperature begins to dip with the change of seasons, the beautiful Lake Tahoe that we love has re-emerged!
Incidents such as this intensify feelings of gratitude for the natural splendor of our mountain home. Fearing the destruction of the forest and the safety of our neighbors while the Caldor Fire raged helped us appreciate the beauty and freedom of smoke-free blue skies. Local initiatives such as the Forest Futures Campaign are ramping up efforts to protect the forests and restore ecosystem health.
How did all this upheaval affect the real estate business?
Like all local industries, real estate felt the impact of recent events. Shortly after the pandemic lockdown began in March 2020, Lake Tahoe real estate sky-rocketed, and has continued at an impressive pace since. After pandemic restrictions eased in the second half of 2021, we have seen a subtle shift in buyer demand. The past four months have demonstrated an evolution of pricing and offer strategies, but even with low inventory, sales continue at a rapid pace.
In the face of the Caldor fire and highly publicized evacuation of South Lake Tahoe, there was some speculation that safety concerns would discourage buyers from entering into contract. Poor air quality and local access restrictions did result in a number of showings being canceled and low foot traffic at open houses.
However, the lull seems to have been temporary. As air quality has improved, buyer interest and activity has resumed to a somewhat normal level. After the buying frenzy of the past year, buyers are exercising a bit more caution, and days on market have increased slightly. Overall, the forecast looks promising for Lake Tahoe real estate. Here is a quick snapshot of real estate activity in August:
While numbers are always informative, a boots-on-the-ground agent perspective can add more to the story. A recent article in the Tahoe Daily Tribune quotes Team Blair Tahoe Agent Jackie Arthur:
“I’ve got clients that are asking, ‘When can we come back?’” said Team Blair Tahoe Compass Agent Jackie Arthur. “They’re not really afraid of the fires. They’re just wanting to be more educated on the process of fire insurance moving forward.”
A good note for agents everywhere as fire season continues across the Western United States.