Viewing the 2023 performance of real estate in the Tahoe Truckee region through a 12-month lens, the narrative can be summarized as a stubborn market in which record few properties transacted while prices remained largely static.
This dynamic challenges many closely held assumptions of supply and demand whereby prices should diminish with extended days on market if sales are not prolific. Instead, sellers unmotivated by liquidity, chose to hold firm on price and opt out of continuing with sales efforts in circumstances when peak value was not offered. Buyers, in turn, took this opportunity to be exceptionally judicious about their selections, opting for purchases on only the most exceptional homes within any given neighborhood or price range rather than sniff out deals for product that is discounted but doesn’t otherwise match their needs. From a statistical perspective, this may give a false sense of pricing stability when most sales do not represent most listings. An unrealized loss may become apparent when sellers’ motivation to find liquidity increases.
When viewing the performance of the market over a 24-month lens, a period of stagnation from Fall, 2022 through early Summer, 2023 is apparent, after which the second half of 2023 showed energy toward a return to historical averages for transaction volume.
Year over year, 2023 residential transaction totals fell 13%. 1,100 residential sales is less than half of 2020’s 12-month total and stands with the four lowest years since 2005. Nevertheless, the second half of 2023 outperformed the same period in 2022 by 17% shining a light on just how difficult the first half of the year was. A perfect storm of local and economic conditions created gale force headwinds during this period including a spike in interest rates, historic snowfall, and the failure of regional banks essential to the local feeder markets. Perhaps the bell weather data point for sales activity has been inflation; the curve of which is a near perfect inverse of real estate activity.
Despite transaction volume falling, prices have generally remained steady amid an absence of distress among sellers and a reluctance to sell out of compelling mortgages, only to finance new purchases at higher prevailing rates.
Like transaction volume, price volatility has its twin in other economic metrics.
We head into 2024 with a sense of cautious optimism for a return to more ‘normal’ conditions. The year begins with a seasonally adjusted balance of about 3 months’ supply. While election year precedence typically signals a year of paralysis, the growing anticipation of a rate cut seems to have demand primed for acceleration should mortgages return to a more tolerable level. Any such acceleration is likely to unlock greater inventory among those sellers that have waited on greater affordability for their next purchase which is likely to keep values balanced; perhaps even giving back some of the ample gains realized over the last several years.
With a fascinating year ahead, we look forward to keeping you updated on the market and the many wonders of Tahoe.