Lake Tahoe is a year round destination. During the winter, Lake Tahoe is a world class ski destination and during the summer people escape here to enjoy warm weather, sunny blue skies, beaches and pretty much every outdoor activity one could imagine. If you happen to fall in love with the area and find yourself visiting often as many people do, the thought of a vacation home in Lake Tahoe could be very alluring. Especially when you think of the potential financial benefits. For example, many people rent their second homes out when they are not using it. However, as exciting as buying a vacation home in Lake Tahoe is, there are some things to consider and really think about before the entering the process.
First, think to yourself realistically “What Can I Afford?” According to the National Association of Realtors Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey, the 2013 median price for vacation homes was $168,700. That does not include the extra costs accrued when purchasing a home. You need to keep in mind that you will also be paying for insurance, year round utility costs, winterizing/de-winterizing, property tax, exterior landscape maintenance (old tree’s must go!) and potentially a caretaking/maintenance service. There are other potential costs such as HOA fees if applicable, furnishings for the home if your purchase did not include them as well as a security system if you must have that extra reassurance while you are away.
“Location, location, location!” You have heard this phrase several times when it comes to marketing Lake Tahoe real estate. While this is your vacation home, and you should buy what you want, you also need to think about the resale and renting value. After all, a house located in the middle of nowhere may be attractive to you, but chances are the masses want to be conveniently located close to all that South Lake Tahoe has to offer. Especially with current housing trends showing that the young professionals are moving away from “suburbia” and moving more towards cities and all their attractions. Thankfully in Lake Tahoe, there are several areas that are away from the heavily tourist populated areas, but close to all the best beaches, trails, resorts and more and still minutes to the nightlife.
Even if you plan on purchasing a Lake Tahoe vacation home without the intention of selling it (we see cabins and homes that stay in the family for decades), still view the property as an investment. Look at what it is located next to, the walkability score, the safety of the general surrounding area and the amenities readily available from the front door. While you may never intend to sell the property, it could eventually happen and if it does, you will want a smoother transaction with a bigger pool of buyers.
Be aware of the local rent prices. While you also may not intend to rent the property out for various reasons, it could be something that appeals to you at some point. After all, you can rent your property out for up to 14 days tax free every year. This gives you some extra cash without the responsibilities of being a full time landlord.
Think about the travel time. The median driving distance between a primary residence and vacation residence is 3 hours according to the National Association of Realtor’s. Truly, the best vacation home is easy to get to.
Also be sure to spend more than just a few long weekends in Lake Tahoe. Get to know the local spots and chat with the locals about any limitations or annoyances they experience from living in Lake Tahoe. While we are sure you won’t hear much, there may be some grumbling about heavy traffic on holiday weekends, or construction on roads during the summer time. Also ask about their favorite neighborhoods and why certain areas are their favorite. The more familiar you are with the area, the higher the chance you will find a property perfect for you.