Home purchasing is always a stressful experience, but when you add a winter like the one we are experiencing here in Tahoe, the process can really get complicated. The general thinking or rule of thumb, especially in our mountainous climate, is that winter is not the time to buy or sell a house. However, during the past few years, with the combination of the low interest rates, a strong economy and comparatively light snow accumulation, winter sales of residential properties have actually been consistently active.
The Tahoe market in particular this winter has seen a huge influx of skiers flocking to nearby slopes and enjoying all the activities, scenery and adventures that Tahoe has to offer. At the same time, the massive snow accumulation is impacting the home shopping and buying process for those engaged in the exciting, and simultaneously nerve wracking, experience of home buying and selling.
One particular component of the home buying process that has been directly impacted is the home inspection process. According to Bill Bergstedt, owner of Tahoe Certified Home Inspections who has been doing inspections for 20 years in Tahoe, the current snow accumulation is problematic because portions of the to-be-inspected homes are often buried under numerous feet of snow — areas like crawl spaces, house exteriors and roofs. Needless to say, it is virtually impossible to completely, properly and professionally inspect any portion of the house that is under 6 to 10 feet of snow.
As a local Realtor who proudly lives, works and enjoys all that Tahoe has to offer, I can attest to the fact that even though this year’s snow accumulation has been extreme, clients are still actively and enthusiastically engaged in the process of buying and selling both vacation and primary residential homes. For example, one couple who just closed on a house this week in the Meyers area is Clark and Monica Vandeventer.
Black diamond home shopping this winter in Tahoe
During the process, the Vandeventers had the roof of the home shoveled to be on the safe side and to prevent a collapse. Once the roof was shoveled, the resulting snowbanks made the house barely visible from the street. However, for their particular loan to be successfully processed, the Vandeventers were tasked with removing all the snow so that the inspection could be completed on the exterior of the house. This proved to be a monumental task, but like many prospective Tahoe homeowners, the Vandeventers dug down deep (literally) and went to work.
Another set of excited homebuying clients requested the seller to shovel the roof prior to their inspection. The seller kindly paid $800 to have the roof shoveled. Unfortunately for this home inspection process, albeit fortunate for all of the skiers and riders enjoying all the fresh powder, an additional 6 inches of snow fell on that freshly shoveled roof before the inspection could be completed. As has been my experience with most transactions here in Tahoe, the involved parties kindly “weathered the storm” and waited for the freshest round of snow to melt.
As an aside, once the snow accumulation on the roof was addressed by some Tahoe sunshine, this home inspection process involved yet another issue often faced by inspectors: when entering the crawl space, Bergstedt, the home inspector, was met by a family of beady-eye raccoons staring at him. Of course, as a seasoned professional experienced in Tahoe-area inspections, Bergstedt took the surprise of coming into close contact with the raccoon family in stride.
“At least it wasn’t a bear this time,” he commented.
Yes, he has encountered bears during his illustrious career inspecting homes in Tahoe. Because not only do we share our homes with ski bums, local professionals and tech executives, but also our furry friends known as black bears. Once a black bear is found to be an uninvited house guest, then the time has come to extend the closing date in order to keep them happy — “them” being the bears.
Buying a home in the winter in Tahoe has its challenges. As a Realtor, I have heard of purchases being cancelled solely due to the amount of snow accumulation at the perspective house. On the positive side, a buyer recently told me that the amount of snow accumulation at the house he is buying in South Lake Tahoe actually spurred his desire to close the deal; he was able to make first-hand observations of how the house handles the snow, how the snow storage on the lot looks, as well as the flow of the resultant melting and/or excessive rain and precipitation on the property.
With all that snow, the buyer’s 8-year-old son is perhaps most excited. The young boy cannot wait to experience all the joys that Tahoe has to offer, but most importantly, playing in the snow in his new backyard.
At this point, he still may need to wear his snow boots in his new backyard once June hits, but I’m sure that will only add to the enjoyment of his new home!
Black diamond home shopping this winter in Tahoe by Jennifer Fortune is a Realtor for Chase International South Tahoe Realty. Fellow Realtors, if you have ideas for stories or would like to share a story, please contact Fortune at firstname.lastname@example.org.