In the 15 years since home prices began to slide toward recessionary lows, many Tahoe & Reno neighborhoods have seen significant gains.

Tahoe Donner Cross Country Center 

This week’s focus is on Tahoe Donner, a resort community of some 6,000 homes in the hills above Truckee.

Tahoe Donner remains a relatively affordable option for Bay Area residents looking for a vacation home with nice amenities. With a terrific fitness center, several swimming pools, golf, tennis, and one of North America’s best Cross Country Ski Areas, Tahoe Donner is one-stop vacation destination. (Click here for additional info)

The majority of single-family homes here sell for under $1 million (84 percent last year). And many of these can be rented as furnished vacation properties when owners are not in residence. (Half of the short-term rentals in the Town of Truckee are located in Tahoe Donner*).  Thanks to all this, Tahoe Donner has been a major driving force in the region’s economy, accounting for 20 percent of all Tahoe/Truckee home sales over the past 15 years.

While common sense suggests that a lot of things have changed in 15 years, the big changes at Tahoe Donner have largely been its capital improvements:

  • A brand new restaurant & bar (pictured above) with outdoor fire pits at the Cross Country Center. (Rental operations here shift to equestrian & mountain biking during the summer months)
  • The acquisition of the Euer Valley, which adds 500 acres of pristine wilderness and hiking/skiing/biking trails to an already stunning mountain setting
  • The remodeling of the Trout Creek Recreation Center, which will make the gym more open and inviting for both cardio and weight lifting

As we embark on the New Year, the 2020 real estate picture in Tahoe Donner is looking a lot like 2006. The community closed out 2019 with a median single-family sales price of $720,000, just 1 percent above the 2006 year-end pricing. And luxury sales (homes over $1 million) represent about 16 percent of the overall market (compared to 18 percent at the close of 2005).

 Does this mean the roller coaster is at the top of the tracks?     ....  I don’t think so.

The economic factors that led to the precipitous crash of housing prices affected Tahoe Donner, just as it did the rest of the nation. And home prices here bottomed out in 2012, with a median sales price of $483,500 (Luxury sales did not fall as precipitously. The median price of a luxury home in Tahoe Donner dipped to $1,060,000 in 2012, down from a high of $1,250,000 in 2009.)  But that downturn was driven a sub-prime mortgage crisis, which bankrupted some of the country’s largest financial firms.  While the sting of that Recession remains fresh for many, reforms have been put in place to prevent the conditions leading up to it.

Sales volume and pricing will be key indicators to watch as we move through the winter season and into Spring. Those 2 indicators have a magnetic pull on each other, and the basic laws of economics suggest that prices cannot continue to rise when the volume of sales is falling off.

Tahoe Donner is an interesting study. 2019 opened with falling sales and rising prices. Those two indicators adjusted throughout last year, and we finished the year with flat gains for both.

So what will 2020 look like for Tahoe Donner?

If the market responds favorably to adjusting prices, we might see an uptick in sales volume during the 1st half of 2020, followed by an increase in median pricing by the year-end.  But a lot will depend on the election, consumer confidence, and the degree to which real estate remains a stronger long-term investment than stocks or bonds.

If you are thinking of buying or selling, please contact me for a more detailed personal analysis. 

~ Jackie, 775-391-9443

*Mountain Housing Council, March 2019 report

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Posted by Jackie Ginley on


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