Sunday, November 25, 2012

Is Tahoe A Good Leading Economic Indicator?

If so, it is this writer's opinion that the economy is turning around.
Okay, so maybe I'm influenced by the huge number of cars coming into Tahoe on Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
Photo - Lake Tahoe
Maybe I'm also influenced by the number of shoppers at the local supermarket last Wednesday. It's a big parking lot, but the only space we found was at the far corner.
There are other signs to suggest that Tahoe activity should be added to the “Leading Economic Indicators” so often mentioned in the media.
One is the number of unfamiliar vehicles turning down our street, heading for vacation homes that rarely see people outside of the summer months. In a booming economy, the vacation homes get a lot of use, and their owners spend lots on upgrades and remodels and landscaping. In bust years, those same vacation home owners sit on their wallets. They probably aren't poor. If so, they would be unlikely to own a vacation home. But they are conservative when the economy is sluggish.
In our neighborhood, as with most in Tahoe, there are a mix of cabins and bigger homes along with a few of the fancy spreads that sport numerous extra bedrooms and bathrooms and decks. One of them, the one with the indoor swimming pool, languished empty and lonely and for sale for a long time, another victim of the Great Recession. Few shoppers ever came to look at it despite its relatively low price.
But last winter that house acquired new owners from the Bay Area. It's nice to see them come up frequently, enjoying their views of mountains and forest. By itself, that's a good hint of what's to come in the economy. Better yet in the indicator world, this past summer they had a massive landscape project installed.
A realtor will tell you that thoughtful landscaping can enhance a home's value and is right behind kitchen and bathroom remodels in terms of return on investment. A realtor will also tell you that huge landscaping projects can be like a big boat, a great opportunity to spend a lot of money that you'll never get back when you sell. Yet I believe these Bay Area people are very savvy about their landscaping. They know that Tahoe property values have begun what will likely be a long ride up a big slope. In the not-too-distant future, their big, beautifully-landscaped home will be worth twice or three times what they paid for it, and their landscape investment will be perfectly in line with that coming value.
I close this post with my best Tahoe Insider tip. If you've ever wanted a place in Tahoe, now is the time to buy. It won't be long before everybody is talking about the Tahoe real estate turn-around of 2012. Prices are still low. Perhaps for the rest of our lives, we'll be thinking about what could have been, the house we wanted that might have been purchased for a song and a ski lesson.
South Lake Tahoe Real Estate Blog

 You don't want to be joining the chorus singing the lament about the one that got away. Best to come up to Tahoe ASAP and start looking for the play-venue of your future.
The indicators are clear. The economy is coming back.

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