What's a Ski Lease? 

That's a question I was asked last week, reminding me that as realtors we sometimes assume our everyday jargon is commonplace. A ski lease is a short-term rental of your home for the ski season, usually at a higher monthly rate than what it would fetch as a full-time rental.

Ski leases typically run from November or December through March or April (in an epic Tahoe winter your tenants might ask to extend). For those who love Lake Tahoe, but not the winters, a ski lease can be a great way to defray the cost of owning a vacation home. A nice 4-bedroom home or condo that sleeps eight or more could rent for anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 per month, depending on location (luxury properties fetch luxury rates). Multiply that by 5 or 6, and it goes a long way toward paying the mortgage on a vacation home. (Huge disclaimer here ... the rental potential of the property depends on many factors, including the age of the home or condo, the quality of furnishings, and the availability of amenities like hot tubs, etc.)

Location is Key

Location is also super important. A home at Northstar with easy access to the slopes and amenities like the pool, gym and hot tubs, is going to ski lease better than the same size home in a neighborhood with no amenities and a long commute to the ski areas. The flip side is that properties at or near the slopes also tend to have higher monthly homeowner's dues. (Click here to a list of Ski-In, Ski-Out homes and condos in Tahoe/Truckee)

Tahoe Donner, with its own downhill ski area, and one of the best XC ski areas in North America, is a popular ski lease spot, in part because guests are allowed access to the gym, year-round pool and hot tubs.

Tahoe Donner HOA Swimming Pool

With more than 5,000 properties to choose from, Tahoe Donner also offers something for every budget.

A number of condos in or near Downtown Truckee, like The Boulders off Highway 89 offer quick freeway access and the convenience of popping into town for apré-ski drinks & dining. Closer to Lake Tahoe, you can find some great cabins and condos complexes such as "Brockway Springs," with its year-round heated pool. Thanks to its location at Lake Tahoe, Brockway Springs offers skiers the 'reverse' commute to popular ski areas like Alpine Meadows, Palisades (formerly Squaw Valley), or Northstar.

Ski Leases: Pros & Cons

One downside to ski leasing is that tenants can be hard on a home. Even normal wear and tear might feel like an intrusion for some who don't want so much as a scratch on the beautiful hardwood floors. A ski lease also needs to be furnished, and outfitted with towels, bedding, and household utensils for the tenants to use -- too personal for some. But in an era where AirBnB and VRBO are increasingly popular paths to cash flow a home, there is certainly a market for the Tahoe ski lease. (*Post Covid rules in many areas of Tahoe have limited short-term rentals of less than 30 days - click here for more information)

Let's face it. No one is getting rich off ski leases. If a vacation home comes close to penciling out at the end of the year through ski leasing, you're doing great.

If you want a home that truly cash flows, buy an investment property in Reno (My team can help you with that, too.) A vacation home should be a retreat from the hustle of your everyday work life, a place where family and friends can relax, play, and just chill out.

Contact Jackie

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Posted by Jackie Ginley on


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