Our broker Chris Plastiras has been quoted in this North Lake Tahoe Bonanza article.  While the Tahoe area hasn't been as affected by foreclosures as the rest of the country, it is not immune to them.  The silver lining is that properties are becoming a bit more affordable, and many sellers are more willing to negotiate than they would've been just 2 years ago. 


Lake Tahoe foreclosures up

By Nick Cruit

Despite California and Nevada topping the list of the U.S. states with the worst foreclosure rates, Tahoe Basin real estate pockets are uncharacteristic of the states and counties they occupy, local real estate agents say.

Back when properties were being purchased by speculative buyers in areas like Reno and Las Vegas, the existing market allowed these buyers to flip the property for profit, said Chris Plastiras, Owner of Lake Shore Realty in Incline Village.

Now, however, in the heart of the housing crisis, those buyers are realizing they can no longer make a profit and they are simply walking away.

“Buying property and flipping it for profit was definitely an option for a while,” said Plastiras. “But now that has all gone away and those markets have suffered dramatically.”

Nevada and California have been especially affected. The two states took the No. 1 and No. 2 spots on the list of the worst foreclosure rates in the country, according to statistics from RealtyTrac Inc., an Irvine, Calif.-based foreclosure listing service.
But according to local realtors, Placer, Nevada and Washoe County foreclosure rates do not reflect the real estate pockets around the Tahoe Basin.

In some areas, foreclosure rates are so high that current prices reflect what they were nearly a decade ago.

“There’s a huge difference when you hit Sacramento,” said Kelly Smith, a Century 21 Realtor in Carnelian Bay. “There are so many foreclosures there that prices have stepped back seven years.”

Here in Tahoe, however, Smith does not see the same problem.

“There are definitely less foreclosures in our area because we have a clientele that can typically afford the economic changes,” he said.

Customers also tend to put a substantial amount of money down when they buy homes, and consequently are not ready to walk away, Plastiras said.

“It’s a lot worse in other places and we’re not going to see a tidal wave of these things,” said Plastiras. “There are not a lot of spec buyers in Incline and most people put 20 to 30 percent cash down on their homes, something the spec buyers don’t do,” he added.

Though Plastiras said the rate of foreclosure properties is slowly increasing in the area, he generally sees bank owned properties sell quickly, some within a month or two.

John Falk, Legislative Advocate for the Tahoe Sierra Board of Realtors, agrees.
“It seems to be a relatively consistent situation, however, I’m not hearing about a cascade of problems,” Falk said.

But while the foreclosure problem is not as bad in Tahoe as it is in other areas of California and Nevada, realtors are beginning to see the need to cater to “distressed properties” in their listing service.

The Tahoe Sierra Board of Realtors approved a field in their multiple listing service database last week that will include properties sold under “distressed conditions,” including foreclosures and short sales, said Falk.

By the numbers
Number of foreclosure properties by state and county for December 2008, from RealtyTrac Inc.
Nevada: 61,025
Washoe County: 1,297 (one in 136 units)
Incline Village/Crystal Bay: 4

California: 384,288
Nevada County: 157 (one in 317 units)
Placer County: 817 (one in 177 units)