Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Community Notice

The Tahoe Truckee Sierra Disposal is offering its annual free disposal coupon. See the fine print at the bottom third of bill that just came out. Its good for two-yards-about a compact pick-up truck load of junk. Valid during May and June. If you have more then one house you can use each on a trip but cannot combine. Must have ID. Bye the way-if you go up there bring cash or a credit card they don't take plastic of any kind.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Alpine on the block? No wait...sold, again?

Seems like ownership at Alpine has been a revolving door for a while now. When I worked there..ah yes I get to say, "back in the day" circa 1989 It was a privately held, granola encrusted, slow paced ski area with no snowboarders and more bearded employees then not. The chairs were old and slow and fresh turns could be found all day without having to hike too far out of bounds on a powder day. And we did it on skinny skis-210 gs boards.

Speed up to today's current ownership. ..and the big ski corp marketing juggernaut roles out slick, glossy, color ads, cheap lift tickets, takes over the concessions and with the combination of many skiers and fast detachable quads the mountain is toast by 10AM, all the way out to Estelle. But hey their making money right? But things weren't the same-everybody agreed. Firings (pinkslip or not) of valued, longtime employees were rampant, and frankly with the exit of Larry Heywood-the mtn became less safe.

So after waiting too long one day (about four seasons ago) for the one person on the whole mountain left who could fix the tempermental Summit Six to come down, I said see-ya. And I got me a Squaw pass. And I never looked back-until this year. Yep-I've had the hankering a few times at on our meager pow days this year to make the shlog out to Grouse rock.

But I waited too long and it looks like with all the 60 degree weather we're having I think the season's about done. So I'll wait till next year.

If I have any advice to the new owners it would be to get back to the essence of what Alpine is-a laid back place where the employees and the skiers are happy, not afraid to wear last year's outfit and there to ski, not to walk around a village. And hire back knowledgeable, quality, key people and pay them well.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Rental Picture part 3

This is the kitchen at my rental in Tahoe City-clean and new will help you rent!

I think once you have a handle on how the Tahoe Season flows you can start to build a booking plan based availability, nightly rates, minimum stays and the like-parameters by which to book your property. First off is what and how many...

Occupancy should be based on how many can comfortably sleep in beds and how many will have to share the baths. In the back of your mind is how much wear and tear you want. A typical three bed, two bath in Tahoe can handle 6-7 adults or children mixed. Pushing beyond that I think will just tax your home too much. Also, will you allow pets? Cats no way, never, never. But a dog? You can't overlook the bookings created by being pet friendly. Often that Golden Retriever is just too much a part of the family to put them in a kennel. You charge extra for the dog hair, $25 say and get a deposit too. I find pet owners to be more careful due to the close scrutiny.

Nightly rates and minimums are extremely important. Starting out you should be slightly below market unless your property is new or remodeled. You need to get clients when starting so you have to be competitive. The nightly minimum shouldn't hinder you, especially in the winter. Go 2-3 nights to start, again more if your property is in really good shape. Most people are just coming up to ski for the weekend in the winter. In the summer things are a little different you can go for more 5-7 night minimum as cliients will be here for their summer vacation-with the kids.

Rates: Rates should fluctuate with demand, holidays, season and nightly stay. Your peak rate should be about 25% higher then your normal high season rate. You should try discounts and free nights in the off season to entice people to your wonderful property-then they'll come back during peak time. If you use a service you should advise them to contact you if a client wants a deal-instead of just saying no. And a big deal is that if you want the big income you can't take the best nights for yourself! I had a client who would never block out his property but would call up on a Friday afternoon and if it wasn't rented he would then come up. His place, bye the way did the best out of everyone.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tahoe Rental Picture Part II

.....Lets start the vacation rental year with the Christmas holiday instead of January 1. After a quiet fall with some weekend rentals in Sept. and Oct. the renters stay away from Tahoe until Christmas week except for Thanksgiving and maybe some Dec. weekends if the ski areas get open. But its quiet until Bang!....Christmas time and a full week rental at top dollar followed by New Years Eve and another full week at top dollar. Then a normal weekend and then MLK and a three night weekend, more weekends through January into Feb. until spring break hits and you may get a full week or two at the end of Feb. Weekend rentals will mostly be the norm until about mid April and then dry up. The Tahoe vacation renters disappear again for the most part until June and maybe they will come up for a weekend here and there until the 4th of July and then its mayhem again. If you own a lean-to in Tahoe you should be able to rent it. North Tahoe must triple its population on the week of the 4th. My guess would be that 30,000 people come to north Tahoe this week. After the 4th, you can count on some good business for all of the summer until Labor day weekend and then will start the cycle over with some weekend rentals in the Fall until Christmas.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Tahoe City Building Permits

Talked to the building department today and they are fresh out of new construction allocations. (an allocation is issued first then a permit after the project is approved) This applies to Placer County around the lake. There were 45 avail. and 45 are spoken for. Now the kind lady on the phone said that those that do not get their project submitted(or approved?) by June 27th may lose them. So checking with them after this date could be productive. This limit does not apply to additions or remodels.

Locals Insight

Yeah, I'm a local I'm proud to say and here's a couple of things you may appreciate that I sure do. Maybe not quite secrets but more like insight. First, as of March 25th Alpine Meadows will be selling full season spring passes-good 'til they close. This year it might be an earlier season if we don't get more snow but I bet mother nature isn't finished yet. Whats also good about it is that the $129 is good towards a full pass next year. If we get some snow we could go into May at Alpine........

Next are two favorites for food. First, right smack and and in the middle of downtown is Java Stop. Refreshingly, they have $1 12 oz. coffees, sandwhiches, bagels, roll-ups- healthy type stuff, wheatgrass shakes etc. But what I like is the hole-in-the-wall, 10 foot wide self-serve space. Much preferred in my own tastes to the glitz and sensory overload of those Star people that sell some kind of acidic brew of brown stuff. Next is pizza, I dig pizza....I've eaten slices on the street all over Italy and in NYC like the original Ray's on Broadway, for that matter, if you're really into it there's whole site dedicated to NYC slices called...you guessed it: sliceny.com. Thin crust is the way to go but sauce matters too. To satisfy my pizza craving I like Front Street Station. Located on the Truckee River in Tahoe City across from Chevron in the old ski rental building, best marked by the vintage green and red Truck parked out front that says.....yep "Front Street" on the side. When the weather is warm you can eat outside just above the river, they pipe music outside and you can have a beer there too, not a bad place to hang out........

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Understanding the vacation rental picture

I spent a full year working for a rental company in Tahoe City when I first got my license and own a vacation rental property myself in Carnelian Bay. North Tahoe is a unique enviroment for vacation rental owners and renters both due to the demand and amenities that often are available to renters like beach access. North Tahoe compared to South Lake has fewer hotels-far fewer available beds to meet the demand of the big ski weekends and holidays like the 4th of July. Many home homeowners associations offer beach access, pools and things for kids to do. This is a big appeal. Frankly, the hotel experience in North Tahoe is pretty lacking.

First and foremost owning a vacation rental is exactly like owning a business, the product is providing shelter. So lets understand this business of a Tahoe Vacation Rental.

I. The demographic or the client: Primarily we draw renters from Northern California with Sacramento and the Bay area being the biggest entities. People come to Tahoe from Sacramento, Granite Bay, Folsom, Mill Valley, San Francisco, the peninsula, Marin, Contra Costa, Fairfield, Pleasanton, San Jose, Santa Cruz and Reno all the time! In the summer they will mostly be families coming up for a week for a vacation in July and August. In the summer, Tahoe will also be a So-Cal and national destination for the same reason. In the winter, we will primarily draw from Northern California weekend skiers and to an even lesser degree in the areas of So-Cal and the rest of the country. This crowd is often younger then the summer crowd. They will also stay shorter-often only Friday and Sat. nights. So nightly minimums are key in the winter. You can shoot yourself in the foot by having a 7 night minimum in the winter!

...more to come

Friday, March 16, 2007

Spring Has Sprung

Wow! What a time since around Feb 22. It started to snow, and then the storms got bigger and bigger, look at the storm totals at squaw.com. It was famine to Feast. Time to put away the rock boards and get out the Spatulas-although old they are still a lot of fun in the deep stuff. Scetchy though on the ice where the fluff was scoured off. It was a good time but traffice was a disaster around the weekend of the 25th of Feb. 4 hours to get from Tahoe City to Truckee!

Now we have been on to 60 degree days and sunshine for the last week until monday. Its been so hot the snow is melting fast and now the fear is the areas will not be able to stay open into May as the norm. Spring skiing though has been fun and the snow has been corning up nicely.

I think that with the snow came some North Tahoe real estate activity as well. I know that my own business saw a nice bump in the last month. I had a client ask me about the big Tuesday sell of in the stock market as he was about to write an offer. He wanted to know how it affected our market. I told him that part of the sell off was due to a computer glitch but the genuine part of the sell off only bolstered my faith in Tahoe City real estate as a sound investment. I think we've found our bottom and we'll see a healthy return to buying this summer. If the Fed cuts it will help.

Last weekend I was able to watch the skier cross event of the Honda Snow tour. I happend to be standing at the bottom to watch the two finalists crash. I heard in that last heat of four another pair crashed at the top. Watching those guys take air of the bumps was pretty amazing.
But I still haven't been able to find out who won if anybody knows. I have yet been able to get their website open. Some problem with mozilla/adobe flash.

Rain/sleet/drizzle is supposed to roll in Monday, it will be interesting to see how the spring goes and if there's any winter left. I could stand a few more powder days at Squaw and have yet to hit Alpine this year.

Friday, January 19, 2007

OK, well, this is my first time blogging. I admit it.

What I hope to accomplish here is to establish an on-line forum on anything north Tahoe related. Real Estate is what I do....so mostly I was hoping to open a dialogue with anyone who would like to ask me questions in using the digital domain rather then the analog, or by phone to be exact. That way an archive can be formed and left for those that might like to just peruse.

What going on lately is that the market has been slow-much like the rest of the country. But, the rumour is that it is picking up. I spoke to a Northstar agent today who said his office has entered into 7 transactions in the last 10 days. That is a good sign. Currently our median single family home is at $910,000. And, despite the slowdown we appreciated 12% in the single family realm while the condos corrected down -5%. One thing holding us back is the lack of snow. We are way behind in overall accumulation and have had no major(3-4') storms this year(at lake level). The ski areas are open but there has been no buzz yet this year(about great conditions) to bring the people up from the bay area who make up the bulk of our property buyers.

Ok, that wasn't so bad. I would love for someone to chim in, ask me a question etc. Thank you!