High Demand for Tahoe Donner Homes Priced Over $1Million

Luxury home sales in Tahoe Donner tripled last year from what they had been just 15 years before.  Homes priced over $1 million -- long the minority in this community above Truckee -- sold at a faster pace in 2020, and for higher prices -- than ever before in the history of this resort destination.

More than a quarter of the homes that sold in Tahoe Donner last year closed for more than $1 million. That includes some homes, like this Pinnacle Loop chalet, that pushed into the luxury zone, despite being priced well below $1 million:Pinnacle Loop Home

New home sales accounted for less than 10 percent of overall sales, but with just three exceptions, all sold for north of $1 million. And one Brand New Craftsman-style 4-bedroom on Oberwald closed for $2.1 million.Tahoe Donner new home

Overall sales also set new records in 2020, with the median sales price topping $800,000 for the first time ever, and 359 homes changing hands.

It was a year that began on wobbly knees after Covid shutdowns halted sales, and ended in a full gallop, with homes that were strategically priced receiving multiple offers – often in just a matter of days.

In both the overall and the luxury market, the majority of homes (two-thirds) sold for the asking price – or higher. In some cases, much higher!

One small cabin in lower Tahoe Donner sold for 46 percent above asking, and many homes sold for as much as 10- to 30 percent over their list price.

Tahoe Donner Real Estate Trends 

When Tahoe Donner was mapped out more than 50 years ago, no one could have envisioned the 2020 market reality.  (If we saw it coming, we all would have gobbled up lots 20 years ago, right?)

The early vision was defined by small A-Frame cabins, many of them gambrel-style designs with walls that sloped from the roof to the ground to hold more snow.  That was a popular style of construction well into the 1980s that has traditionally been one of the more affordable options in Tahoe Donner.

Fast forward to 2020, and even the gambrels inspired bidding wars. This modest 2-bedroom near the golf course sold for more than $100k over asking in just 7days.  Final sales price: $630,000 (more than $400/SF)

Tahoe Donner Gambrel

In the luxury market, bidding wars also became the norm, with more than two-thirds selling at or above asking, some as high as 23 percent over asking.  Volume also broke all records: Luxury sales amounted to more than $123 Million last year. That’s 41 percent of all Tahoe Donner home sales. 

The last time we saw that ratio was in 2006, just before the Recession hit. But significantly, only 37 homes sold for more than $1million back in 2006. This year, it was almost triple that number - 98. 

Can it continue?  Or is the train now at the top of the tracks?

The economic factors that led to the precipitous crash of housing prices 10 years ago affected Tahoe Donner, just as it did the rest of the nation. And home prices here bottomed out in 2012, with the median sales falling to just $483,500. 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.

As 2020 ended, the pace of sales slowed for several reasons:

  • Lack of inventory. Many a weekend, buyers arrived looking for homes only to find a handful on the market in Tahoe Donner.
  • Buyer fatigue. Some buyers, weary of the price wars & fast moving market, just decided to wait it out for a while.
  • Covid shutdowns. With several of the largest Bay Area counties on lockdown, we began to see fewer buyers making the trip to Tahoe. That could have the effect of dumping hundreds of buyers on the market once the lockdowns lift, as it did in the May & June.

Contact Jackie

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Tahoe Lakefront Home

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*If you’re a data lover, shoot me an email, and I will send you a chart showing all sales in Tahoe Donner this year, including a breakdown of the List –to-Sell price.

Posted by Jackie Ginley on


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