Real estate boom in Lake Tahoe prices some locals out of the market

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. —The COVID-19 pandemic — and people’s desire to escape city living — has led to a real estate boom in areas like Lake Tahoe, where there has been a 158% increase in sales volume over the last year on the Nevada side of the lake.

It’s leading to a problem for people who work in those regions but can no longer afford to live there, as well as for businesses who are having a hard time retaining employees.

“Affordable housing is really workforce housing in Lake Tahoe, and it’s economic development 101,” says Heidi Hill Drum, CEO of the Tahoe Prosperity Center.

“Right now our businesses are struggling to find employees to fill the jobs that they have and it’s because our housing costs are so expensive in this region,” Drum said.

The Tahoe Prosperity Center is focused on finding affordable housing options so that people who work in the Tahoe Basin can also afford to live there. Many of the region’s large employers, including Barton Health, are partners, realizing the value local housing has on attracting employees.

“We’ve sometimes had candidates decline offers for that reason. We’ve had some challenges with retention as well,” Director of Community Benefit for Barton Health Chris Proctor says. “It goes hand in hand with health. If you have the ability to get good, high-quality affordable housing, it’s going to make the ability to move to a new area a lot more achievable.”

Sugar Pine Village is one housing development set to break ground in 2021. It will provide more than 200 units of affordable housing to those who qualify.

Tahoe Real Estate Agent Ken Bednar says it can’t come soon enough for those who are priced out of the region and are hoping to see the market slow.

“The only thing that’s going to slow down is the amount of inventory,” he said.

Bednar reports a 66% increase in the volume of homes sold last year in South Lake Tahoe and a 15% increase in the median home price.


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