Luxury home market at Lake Tahoe, Reno on rise
RENO-TAHOE — As the northern Nevada real estate market climbs, Realtors in the highly specialized luxury market are seeing sales climb.
From January through September 2015, home sales in the $1 million and above market increased by 27 percent compared to the same period in 2014, according to a report released Oct. 6 by Chase International. Sales of homes priced less than $1 million increased by 7 percent year over year.
“The majority of the clients I’m working with are tech workers moving from L.A. and the Bay Area,” Reno Redfin agent Jaime Moore said in a press release. “We’re also seeing an increase in the number of buyers looking for vacation homes here.
“Many live in the Bay Area, but are buying a second home in Reno. They appreciate the lively local culture and proximity to Lake Tahoe.”
Redfin reports that prices for luxury homes in Reno increased 20 percent in the first half of the year compared to last year.
The expansion of giant tech companies like Tesla, Apple and Switch to the Reno area has focused attention on the business benefits in northern Nevada.
“Right after Tesla announced, we saw a spike, then it retracted,” Sandi Solomonson, a luxury home expert with Chase International, said in a phone interview. “Some sellers had a bit of a Gold Rush and wanted to raise prices.”
With Tesla’s Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center battery plant not scheduled to go online until 2017 plus several more years before it reaches capacity, the influx of jobs and people isn’t expected to skyrocket just yet. But it is coming.
“We are beginning to see the impact and some of our agents have seen sales to some of these execs,” said Kathie Bartlett, an agent with the luxury homes division of Dickson Realty, and the listing agent for the iconic Stremmel House. “Things are definitely happening.”
Bartlett said the record sales of a beautiful horse property in Spanish Springs and sales of unique properties in Reno’s Old Southwest are pushing values up a little bit.
Chase’s Solomonson said she has seen a trickle of executives from Tesla and Switch looking at homes in Reno and Lake Tahoe.
“If you only have to go out to the plant once a week, you don’t have to live close,” she said of the interest in Tahoe homes.
Truckee Meadows luxury homes currently on the market range in price from a mere $1 million to more than $16.4 million, the price of the historic Nixon Mansion, still a bargain compared to homes at Lake Tahoe.
Solomonson is the listing agent for the Nixon Mansion, which is almost twice the price as the valley’s next highest-listed home and more than three times the asking price for the Stremmel House listed at $5.48 million.
The Nixon Mansion on California Street, overlooking the Truckee River, was constructed in 1907 for U.S. Senator George Nixon. It has 17,964 square feet with eight bedrooms and 14 bathrooms and many luxury features.
The listed price “is not just some crazy figure someone dreamed up,” Solomonson said.
The neighborhood is zoned professional office so buyers aren’t limited to those looking for a residence.
It’s been on the market for more than a year, which is common for homes in the price range.
“For luxury homes, the buyer pool is much smaller,” so it often takes longer, Solomonson said.
Currently, 19 luxury homes are in escrow in the Reno market, with 164 active listings.
The area has an 8.5-month supply, Solomonson said, which is considered a balanced market.
“So sellers still need to work with their Realtors to price correctly,” she said.
Like many of her clients, Solomonson is a Bay Area transplant who came to Reno for the tax benefits and discovered the area had a lot more to offer, something she’s happy to communicate to those looking to relocate.
“I think it’s a privilege and honor to work with companies and individuals to relocate here,” she said.
“They’re delightfully surprised by the lifestyle and diversity. My responsibility as a luxury Realtor is to get that message out. It’s not the Reno that it was 25 years ago when they were in college.”
Nevada’s tax advantages continue to be a big sell, as well.
“I get so excited to see the look on their faces when they meet with my partners and go over the numbers,” she said. It’s a way to help them protect the investments they’ve worked so hard to build.