TRPA’s BMP’s Once Again on the Front Lines

Lake Tahoe Upper Truckee MarshFor years now, we have been hearing that the TRPA’s BMP’s (Best Management Practices) compliance requirements were going to be enforced.  From my foggy memory, I seem to remember a compliance date of September 2006.  That day came and went.  New dates were set and again passed up.  After that, word got out that science was proving that a property to property approach was not as effective as would be a neighborhood to neighborhood approach.  It was also reported that individual parcels were far less guilty of potential problems vs commercial businesses and traffic.  With all of the change in compliance dates and conflicting reports, many took on a blase’ attitude and put BMP’s at the back of their minds.

Some of you may be asking what are BMP’s.  A quick synopsis explains that BMP’s are designed to control the watershed and keep Lake Tahoe’s water clear.  To learn more, go to the TRPA website.  The reason for this blog is to advise as many homeowners as we can that the battle is going to start getting tough.

Over the past few years, we have been fighting against the CA attorney generals’ push to make BMP’s a point of sale.  Without going into too much detail, doing so would be ludicrous.  Since the TRPA doesn’t allow the ground to be disturbed from October to May, one couldn’t work on their BMPS’ as doing so usually involves installing a small gravel ditch at a minimum.  A point of sale would record those not in compliance with a cloud on their title.  A cloud of title would prevent lenders from loaning.  Home owners and prospective sellers couldn’t negotiate a cost as they couldn’t get a bid in time.  The objections go on and on an on.  So, after numerous meetings, it was decided to NOT make BMP’s a point of sale.  HOWEVER, the compromise is not much better.

In the past, when one tried to sell their home, they were supposed to give a buyer a disclosure stating whether or not the home was in compliance.  The seller was then to turn in that disclosure to the TRPA.  NOW, the disclosure is supposed to go to the buyer directly who in turn is now responsible for turning in the form.  At the very top of this disclosure, in Huge Bright Red Letters it states, “Section 60.4.4.C of the TRPA Code of Ordinances requires the new property deed holder to submit a completed copy of this form to TRPA within 30 days of sale.”  It then goes on in further Huge Bright Red Letters, “Property owners out of compliance with BMP requirements may be subject to enforcement and fines (up to $5,000 per day) pursuant to the Bi-State Compact and Article 9 of TRPA’s Rules of Procedure.”  Check it out here.

Now pause here for a moment.  Would YOU buy a home that wasn’t in compliance if you had to sign this document?  Hell no.  $5,000 per day???  I called to speak to a representative who told me that this has always been the policy and that they don’t plan on enforcing it.  I explained to her that as a Realtor® I could never say to one of my clients, “oh, just sign here.  They don’t really mean it.”  As I said, ludicrous.

Do I think this procedure is fair? No.  Going after only those trying to sell their homes is, in my opinion, a discrimination.  If the policy is for all homeowners to be in compliance, then so be it.  All homeowners should be in compliance.  If the TRPA doesn’t have the resources to enforce compliance, then so be it.  Personally, I don’t feel it is my job to hand over this form and I am not sure what I am going to do at this point.  But again, this is not why I am writing this blog.

I am writing because I think it is best for all homeowners to face the facts.  Unless those facts are changed (and I think they should) all homeowners, especially those of thinking about selling in the near future, should seriously look into completing their BMP’s.  Yes, for some it will be a hassle.  And for those with homes situated on large slopes, could cost more than anticipated.  At the same time, having the BMP’s completed and certified does add value to the property and is a marketing tool.  Please know that the TRPA is not necessarily the force behind this action.  The force appears to be coming from the state level pressured by environmental agencies such as the Sierra Club and the League to Save Lake Tahoe.  Those of you that know me well, know I am an environmentalist to the core.  I do not believe that enforcement of individual parcels, one by one, is the way to go.  Far from it.

For those of you interested:  How to get your BMP certificate  You can also contact Tom Lotshaw, Public Information Officer, at 775-589-5278.


A CALL to ACTION for Lake Tahoe Community

For anyone with an economic interest or investment in the South Lake Tahoe community, this blog is a MUST READ.

Community: ” a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”

South Lake Tahoe has always prided itself on a strong sense of community.  Yet, due to the loud voices of a few individuals, discussions to hamper vacation rentals in South Lake Tahoe has once again risen its non-logical head.  While we all agree that there can definitely be some noise issues and nuisances related to vacation rentals (not to say that permanent residents and full-time renters are all perfect), our economy depends on keeping an environment servicing vacation-goers.  Simply put, today’s families want to rent homes in which they can enjoy a memorable experience with loved ones.  They shop, they dine and they recreate all on a temporary basis.  If Tahoe chooses to close the doors to vacation rentals, these families will choose to vacation elsewhere.

But let’s face the truth.  The majority of Lake Tahoe locals WORK for a living.  Restaurant owners, shopkeepers, waitresses, property managers, maintenance workers, construction workers, etc.  To service these folks, we need teachers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, dentists, etc.  These folks employ daycare workers, beauticians, housekeepers, secretaries, etc.  One group depends upon another. This is a community. Eliminate one aspect of this circle and we all collapse.

The much needed transient occupancy taxes generated from vacation rentals is staggering.  Yet, to our surprise we overheard one of the opponents of vacation rentals state that we didn’t need to worry about having fewer vacation rentals as they could just increase the fees and taxes on those that remain.  Right.  And who shoulders these additional fees?  Homeowner or the prospective renter?  If the costs to prospective renters continue to climb, once again the decision will be made to vacation elsewhere.

Through recent community meetings, discussions have been held to try and come up with ways in which we can address the potential problems yet keep our service-centered community going strong.  All along, we were told that vacation rental moratoriums were off the table.  Imagine our surprise when we just found out that in fact such a moratorium, which could be detrimental to our clients, private property rights, our businesses and the local economy, will be up for a vote this coming April 7th at 9am.  By the way, some with current rental homes might be in favor of a moratorium thinking it may increase their revenue and property values.  However, part of this moratorium proposal states that any existing permits will not be transferred with the home.  Hence, if one has built value in a strong rental history, this value will have no effect on a future sale. Oh, and check this out.  We heard that one council member said he thought it would be a good if home values dropped as more people could buy homes.  What people????  They won’t have jobs.

4 of our 5 city council members (one can’t vote because he is an owner of a property management company and it is considered a conflict of interest) will have it in their hands to make a decision that could affect us all.

This is where we need your help. Please make an effort to do one or more of the following:
1.  Call/text all city council members (listed below) before 4/7/15 and support the proposals listed after the requested call to actions.

JoAnn Conner – 530-318-6090
Hal Cole – 530-318-1111
Wendy David – 530-208-7871
Austin Sass – 530-307-8867
Tom Davis is not permitted to vote due to a conflict of interest.

2. Send an email to the attention of the City Council to or fax to 530.542.7411

3. Be at the City Council meeting at the Airport on 4/7/15 and speak!  Even if it has been said 100 times before, we need to be loud and we need to be heard!

The recommended proposals of many business owners (aka people working for a living.)

1. Take Moratorium of new Vacation Rentals off the table.
2. Focus on enforcement.  We are against adding more regulation.  Enforce what is already on the books and see if the problems resolve. The City has the obligation to enforce its ordinances once they have been adopted and this has not been done.

3. Support increases in permit fees if this helps to cover enforcement costs.

On the other hand, we can sit back and see where the wind blows.  Worse case scenario, if a second home owner can’t rent his property on an occasional basis to help defer costs, perhaps he can rent it full time to a large group of tenants in order to meet the needed mortgage.  Instead of an average 75 – 100 nights per year, we can have 365.  We can all watch our home values drop, jobs vanish, young families leave the area, pay more in taxes . . . Yup, it will be nice and quiet.  Correction. It will be quiet.  Real quiet.  As in ghost town quiet.

2015 1st Quarter Real Estate Market Report

March statsIn regards to the South Lake Tahoe, the 2015 1st quarter real estate market report is starting off on a pretty strong note. When comparing the statistics reported through the South Lake Tahoe multiple listing services as of March 31, 2015, we found the following:

The median home prices are up approximately 4.8% as compared to last year at the same time. March 31, 2014 reported a median home price of $335,000 and this year, we see a reported median of $351,000. Many will find it interesting to note that the current value is close to those reported in both August 2009 and August 2004.

The average days on the market (the time between the posted list date and the reported sale date has risen approximately 13.2 % from 76 days in 2014 to 86 in 2015. Generally speaking, when we see an increase in the time a home is on the market, we tend to see a correlation to an increase in the number of homes on the market. While not significant, this is the case as well. The number of homes currently on the market is up from 211 last year to 234. This could be due to the good weather. In the past, sellers tended to wait until closer to May when the snow melted. Obviously many felt that there is no sense in waiting this year. Along with the increased inventory, we are seeing a slight increase in the monthly supply of homes. The monthly supply of homes is a based upon the estimated time it would take to sell all homes currently listed if all other facts (prices, interest rates, etc.) were to remain the same. Last year, the monthly supply rate was at 4 months while this year, it is reporting approximately 4.9%. Under 5 indicates a seller’s market,) 5 – 6 indicates a balanced market. Over 7 indicates a buyers’ market.

On another positive note, the Pinnacle Real Estate Group of Lake Tahoe is proud to announce that during the 1st Quarter of 2015, we ranked the following:
#2 in Overall Production
#1 in Average Price of Home Sold
#2 in the Number of Listings Sold
Approximately 15% of Overall Market Share

Not bad for a company with a fraction of the number of agents within the one company that ranked above them in sales.  Based on what we are seeing within the office, the 2015 1st quarter real estate market report should see a repeat performance come June 30th.

Pricing Rules to Follow When Selling Your Lake Tahoe Home

Ifkey you decided to sell your Lake Tahoe home, then chances are you have thought a lot about the selling price. If you are new to doing real estate transactions, there are a few key things to follow when pricing your home that can aid in getting it sold quickly.


Price it right

Most seller’s think their home is great and typically pick a selling price that is based more on how much money they want to make, and not so much on actual market factors. Pricing your home right from the start will determine how long the house sits on the market. A majority of Realtors will tell you that the first two weeks of exposure are the most important. When you come in at a good price, the chances of getting a lot of buyers touring your home is high. If the home sits on the market for too long because it is priced too high, it creates the perception that something is wrong with the home. It also sometimes causes buyers to think you are desperate to get an offer resulting in low ball numbers.

Comparable SALES are key

Want to know how much you should list your home for sale? Look at the “comps”. While you can look at other active listings within the neighborhood that are similar to your home, the best way to figure out asking price is looking at the solds. This will tell you what people are willing to pay for a home like yours. The number of beds, baths, square footage, lot and upgrades are a few good things to look at when comparing your home to your neighbors. A qualified Realtor will be able to provide you comparable activities straight from the MLS and help you pick a good asking price.

Keep it fair while comparing

If your home is a darling 1970’s Lake Tahoe ski chalet with original appliances and shag carpeting, chances are it is not going to be the same price as the brand new construction across the street. Even if you have the same square footage and amount of bed and bath, it isn’t realistic to think that you will get the same amount. This is where paying attention to the comparable Lake Tahoe properties your agent gives you is very important. They are only going to pull homes that are truly similar to yours.

Do a little background check

To get an all inclusive idea of the real estate market on your block, check the listing history. Look at the amount of time a home was on the market, the original listing price to the final sold price. This will be another area where your Lake Tahoe Realtor is going to be of service with a wealth of information.

Consider those home improvements

Consider whether or not those recent upgrades you made warrant a higher listing price. A big high end remodel can definitely be reflected in the home price, just don’t expect to get your full return on investment back. While upgrades help, they don’t always get back as much money as you put in. Every situation is unique, so be sure to chat with your Realtor about this.

Consider supply and demand

Are you selling your home in a buyers marker or a sellers market? If it s a buyers market, your home will have a lot more competition and you may want to ask a bit less in order to attract the right buyer. In a seller’s market there is a smaller inventory with a big buyer demand so you can ask a bit more.

As every home and neighborhood is different, like every seller’s situation, you will want to make sure you discuss with your Realtor what the most attractive selling price is for your home. If you are looking to sell and would like more information, give us a call at 530-577-0389.

2015 California Real Estate Forecast

carlogoIt’s that time of year when we try to dust off the old crystal ball and see if there are any indications as to what the upcoming year might have in store for us.  While we can never seem to totally rely on that crystal ball’s findings (should have sold our Lake Tahoe house in 2006 despite that ball telling us to hang on), it is always a good idea to at least pay some sort of attention.

Buyers will be most pleased with the just released 2015 California real estate forecast.  While the home sales throughout the state are expected to increase slightly, experts are predicting that home pricing gains will be the slowest in four years.  According to the California Association of REALTORS®, “the California housing market is expected to return to a traditional buyers’ market with less investors due to more available homes for sale with prices flattening out and sales rising at a modest pace.”  As the last couple years have put some buyers home purchasing plans on hold due to the home price increase and strict guidelines for underwriting, this year puts home buyers in a better financial position to make a real estate purchase.

Another plus for buyers looking to purchase more affordable homes is that we are seeing an increase in the variety of programs giving home buyers the ability to buy a home with less than the standard 20% down payment.  For example, there are FHA loans that allow buyers to make a down payment as small as 3.5% of the purchase price.  It still makes us nervous when we see offers with these low down payments come across our desks yet they sure seem to be working.  Mortgage interest rates have been the lowest in years and will most likely rise to around 4.5% which is still historically low.  The positive news continues as unemployment is expected to decrease to 5.8% from the previous year  which was 6.2%.  With all of these factors combined, C.A.R. predicts existing home sales will have an increase of 5.8 % next year as well as reach 402,500 homes sold. The median home price forecast throughout California is expected to increase to $478,700, up 5.2% from 2014.  The median home price for homes in the South Lake Tahoe area is currently $336,000.  If the same rate of  5.2% increase holds true for the South Shore, we should see a median home price of approximately 354,000 next year at this time.

The Bay area specifically is expected to outperform compared to other regions due to tighter housing supply and strong job market.   This is important to note as the majority of Lake Tahoe home buyers come from this area.  On a national level, the 2015 real estate forecast varies depending on which economist you listen to. However, there is a general consensus that, like California, home sales will increase.

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