Overall real estate slowdown hard blow to new brokers | SierraSun.com

Overall real estate slowdown hard blow to new brokers

Patrick McCartney
Sierra Sun

Sales were down, prices dropped and foreclosures were up last year. How was a Truckee real estate broker able to earn a living in such an uncertain market?

Not as easily now, after seven heady years of rising prices and sales gave way last year to tougher times in the local real estate industry.

“Last year wasn’t so good compared to the seven-year boom,” said Christy Curtis, president of the Tahoe Sierra Board of Realtors.

While Curtis was referring to the number of home sales in the Truckee area, her description could also apply to the rocky road traveled by many individual brokers.

The California Association of Realtors predicted a 15 percent drop in the number of licensed brokers this year. But the drop wasn’t as drastic locally, according to Sue Ruane, executive vice president of the Tahoe Sierra Board of Realtors.

“Because we’re a resort area, we’re different,” Ruane said. “We predicted a 5 percent [drop in licenses], and that’s exactly what we saw.”

The Tahoe Sierra board still has 1,200 dues-paying members, but times have been lean for some, especially for the part-time brokers, Curtis said.

“Traditionally, Tahoe-Truckee was a place people came for the lifestyle. They frequently would move here first, and then look for work,” Curtis explained. “Some found part-time real estate work very attractive, and combined it with a second job. But the industry has gotten so competitive that the part-timers are having a lot more trouble.”

But recent sales figures suggest that the worst may be over for the Truckee-Tahoe real estate industry.

The number of transactions recorded has dropped by 30 percent in the past year, according to Manager Ron Davidson of the First American Title Company in Truckee. He attributed the drop-off partly to slowness in refinancing by homeowners who may be waiting for interest rates to drop again.

But sales have picked up in the year’s first quarter, a period that often sees a seasonal drop, said Curtis of the Tahoe Sierra Board of Realtors. Sales of single-family homes in the Truckee area rose by 30 percent to an even 100 in January to March compared to last year.

“That’s why I’m so impressed that sales are up,” Curtis said.

She predicted a stable market for the full year.