To Rent Or To Buy? Either Way You Are Paying A Mortgage…

Unknown-1If you have been in Tahoe any length of time you know that it is tough to find a decent place to rent for a fair price.  Not only is there few to choose from, they are often asking a huge chunk of change for the monthly rent.  The average person looking to rent a home in Tahoe usually is bringing in less than the median income…thus creating a huge strain on our working class just to have a place to live.

When thinking about whether or not purchasing a home is something one can afford there are factors to consider that have nothing to do with the obvious mortgage, utilities, etc.  What about the dynamic tax savings of mortgage interest and property tax?  There are also many home improvements that could be considered deductible.  If you factor the savings back into your monthly gross income you may find that you are doing much better than you were when you were throwing your money away paying rent.  Your landlord is enjoying these tax deductions while you faithfully write your rent check every month.  Bottom line is you are already paying a mortgage…wouldn’t you rather it be your own? Below is a rent calculator link…see where you fall in!

Rent Calculator

There are so many lending options designed for the first time home buyer to give them an extra hand.  Conditions are ripe for renters to jump into home ownership with low interest rates and homes that are reasonably priced.  There are even local and lending programs that offer a silent second to help with down payments to those who qualify.  Ask friends,  family or your real estate agent for a referral to a good lender who is able to work with first time home buyers.  Your agent should be good at explaining the process and keeping you in the know.  Now is the perfect time to make the switch and start paying  your own mortgage!

Whether you are ready or not, I would love to hear from you!

SELLING SEASON IS HERE!

sold photoApril has turned out to be one great month!  In the last few years April has been pretty quiet around the basin but with a decent Winter mostly behind us the traffic through town has been steady and sure.  Late season storms allowed the ski resorts to stay open extra time bringing more people through town.  More people through town means more buyers.  Selling season got off to an early and most excellent start.

While February brought inventory to it’s annual low, May is looking strong with new listings being added daily.  This is the perfect time to tackle those maintenance projects that have been put off, declutter your space and get it ready to move.  If you have been toying with the idea of selling this season, there is no better time than now.

Many sellers are taking advantage of deferring the tax on sales by opting for the 1031 exchange.  This is ideal for those who are selling investment properties or land.  There are a few rules to follow and it can not be the sale of a primary or second home, but it is an easy process and could save you money.  Below is a link to get you thinking about the possibilities should you choose to sell and purchase a like kind property.

1031 Exchange

Clearly, pricing your home is going to be the most critical step in a quick sale.  Ask your real estate agent for help in finding comparable properties that will guide you in choosing the right price to ask for your home.  Often sellers can be a bit over confident…then add in an emotional element…well, overpricing is sure to follow.  Homes that are overpriced get fewer showings and fewer showings means fewer chances to find the right buyer.  Pricing your home reasonably could actually get you more than asking price should several people offer.

Maybe you are not in a position to do all the fix it projects around the house…it will still sell if it is priced accordingly.  Take into consideration the amount of work that someone will need to do to get the place move in ready and then price your home with that in mind.  Many buyers purchase with remodel on the brain and don’t mind that it is not in stellar condition…that is okay.  Below is a link with some great tips to get your house market ready!

Home selling tips!!

 

If this is your season to sell your Tahoe home, I wish you the best.  We have an excellent team at Realty World Lake Tahoe and we will get the job done for you!

 

 

Spring Update!

The evidence is here….Spring has made her way to Tahoe!  Yes, I know it will snow this week, but it won’t last and we will be on to the next warm spell.  I have a tub full of chicks in the kitchen and the temperature hit 58 degrees yesterday.  I am a happy girl…FullSizeRender

This is the time of the year where I start to plan out our home improvement projects, both minor and major.  This years major project:  The back deck.  After getting a site assessment last Summer from the TRPA, I was pleased to find out that I have coverage left plus some of my planned deck will be exempt.  This allows me to put in a pretty good sized deck that will accommodate my rather large family.  Since we spend a lot of time in the yard during the Summer, this is a most excellent use of resources and I imagine that a plethora of happy times will be had by all.

Going through the proper channels to make sure that what you put your hand to is allowed is a must in the basin.  I have contact numbers for both the city of SLT and the TRPA on my website under “Building in the Basin”.  Use these resources to make sure that what you plan can be carried out.  I have made the mistake to bypass this vital step only to have to go through the time and energy to take down what was put up.  They mean business….but they are very approachable and are willing to help you get  your project done right if you just ask first!

If you have paid any attention at all, you know that Tahoe is host to several top notch bike and foot races.  Usually I am more of a running recluse….heading for solitude in the hills, but this year I decided to dive in and be a part of.  To celebrate my inaugural Death ride, I bought a new carbon fiber road bike.  I’m more than excited to get some milage on this bad boy!  Living here avails me an opportunity to go out my front door and end up in a multitude of amazing places either by foot or ride.  I am in love with the mountain top experience….it calls to me.  There is very little in this world that compares to reaching the summit and looking down on my journey.FullSizeRender 2

Yes, we will battle the sporadic storms for the next couple months, but after almost 20 years of living here I think I finally got a handle on it.  I won’t plant anything unless it is in a portable container and I won’t put my snow shovels away just yet.  However, I won’t let it stop my Spring Fever….

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South Lake Tahoe Real Estate: December 24, 2015

FullSizeRender-2Christmas Eve.  It snuck up on me like a thief in the night this year.  The holidays can be a bit of a hard time for some people and I stumbled into that category by accident.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am ready for Christmas come October, but this year I simply couldn’t get my act together.  There are lots of reasons why…some of them excuses  but the reality is that time has run out.

I broke my leg skiing a week and a half ago and it has been a bittersweet experience to watch the snow fall from the sofa.  I confess, I am envious….I want to be out there enjoying the bounty.  I got a new pair of skis this season and I was just getting started.  But, for some reason I am where I am.  At first I did’t handle it well and went into a few destructive days of self pity.  Now I am trying to figure out the lesson in all this and am hoping to grasp it the first time around….I would rather not have another trip through the wilderness.  What I have learned already is that I have an amazing support network and some truly great friends.  I knew this before but I have not ever been in a place of need like this…and they shine.  I am humbled.  My prayer is that everyone has someone in their life that will be there for them.  I am blessed to have more than my share.

I spent the last two days trudging through snow on crutches showing beautiful homes in Montgomery Estates.  Nothing like trying to get the key box open while it is snowing sideways!  In the process, I have met some truly unique people and you can’t help but bond as you are trying to hold each other upright through the icy walkways.  I couldn’t help but think of the fact that these people coming from the Bay Area are searching for the very thing that I have; a Tahoe life.

Now, you must know that I do not take even one second for granted up here.  I have had to fight to stay on the mountain…and it has been a fight worthwhile. Many friends have moved away because the work wasn’t here or it was too expensive, but somehow I have managed to stay firmly rooted.  It hasn’t been without its sacrifices and every now and then I do the math on living elsewhere.  Sometimes it makes no financial sense whatsoever to stay here but the miracle is that we are thriving.  I wonder at it all the time.

So many families from large cities in California are looking to South Lake Tahoe for a fundamental reset.  Family time, recreation, slowing down the pace and reconnecting…this is the goal.  I have had several families purchase homes this year with a cry in their heart that they want their family time back!  Life in the city has taken over and they are saying “No more!!”.  I commend them for understanding the need to be proactive.  The very fact that they recognize Tahoe as a place of refuge pleases me so.

…AND HERE WE ARE.  Christmas Eve.  The presents are wrapped for the most part.  I’m pretty sure that I have enough trinkets to fill all the stockings.  If I don’t have it, I don’t need it and neither do they.  In all my unpreparedness, I am feeling at peace.  It is just stuff and things.  Most importantly, we will all sleep under the same roof tonight as a family!  My vagabond and my adventurer along with their significant others, my littles and more will be together tonight…oh God, my heart is full.  I am the Matriarch of all this chaos and I couldn’t be more content.

I don’t mean to sound spoiled, but I have travelled to some amazing places for Christmas in the past….but  my heart is in Tahoe and it is with my family.  I remember several years back I was in Grand Cayman shedding alligator tears on Christmas day because all I wanted was to go home.  I couldn’t care less about the Ritz Carlton in Grand Cayman…I’d rather be in Tahoe shoveling snow for the holiday.  I hope that you feel the same about wherever you are because there simply is no place like home.  Merry Christmas.

 

South Lake Tahoe Real Estate: Family Life

IMG_0644I had an awakening this week….of the not so edifying kind.  I would typically describe myself as compassionate and kind.  I gravitate towards those that are suffering, rescue animals and send meals to the sick.  Go me.  Then a situation came up and I realized that I may not be who I think I am.  Ever have one of those moments??  They can be especially difficult.

My lovely darling daughter, Katrina fell off the loft ladder a couple of weeks ago.  After the thump there were many tears and I decided that a good parent would get it checked out…so we went to get an X-ray.  Opting for the less pocketbook painful method (because I was sure it was unnecessary), I took her to a chiropractor that did X-rays.  He really didn’t think one was necessary and I felt entirely co-signed in my denial.  On with our regularly scheduled day.

…but she kept telling me that it hurt.  And, I really was getting tired of hearing it.  I witnessed her asking everyone in the family to do stuff for her and I thought that it was a scam.  She has been injured before and we all rose to the occasion with service and sympathy.  But this time I was not so sure…was she just needing attention?  Were there other divergent problems?  Did she just hate PE???  Goodness, what was wrong with this girl??

So, finally after two weeks of her asking me to give her the world, I took her to the doctor for an X-ray.  After sitting in the waiting room for some time I made the snide comment, “It better be broken.”

It was.

I about died.  And then I started crying and couldn’t stop….ugh.

I guess the real lesson for my breakdown was that I need to be a better listener.  She was talking to me but I wasn’t hearing what she was saying.  Do you ever have those moments where you feel that you have missed it so bad that there is no making up for it??  This was one of those times!

I talked to her that night and begged her forgiveness with many tears.  Of course she forgave me and kept saying, “Mom, you didn’t know.” But she was telling me all along, I just did not hear her.

After a confirmation that it was broken and a good report that she will be okay before ski season ends, I felt the weight of the world removed from my back.  But the lesson has been learned, albeit painful.  I will error on the side of love even if it is not convenient.

What does this have to do with real estate in general?  Nothing.  But it is a stark reminder that we are all human and make mistakes…and families make homes, not houses.

 

South Lake Tahoe Real Estate: Falling in for Winter

I’m a prepper.

Maybe it is having 5 children and always making sure that we have enough….I don’t know.  But I know that when I see that we are almost out of something is is too late…we are out!  And to my defense, I am not a pack rat or a hoarder; everything that I stock up on is something that we consume mass quantities of in this house.  At the end of the day I do not feel I deserve a disease label but a medal.

This fall has been a bit of a late start in my preparations because real estate season has been good.  The applesauce is done (28 quarts) and pumpkin butter is on its way maybe next week but the real concern was the firewood.  Last year I had it all done by August…this year not so much.  For the last week my job has been firewood…and as of today it is done.IMG_0612

For all the reports of an El Nino that have come down the pipe, I am not convinced by their information that we will be buried in snow.  What convinces me that this just might be an epic winter is the fact that I am not even close to ready for it!  It’s a Murphy’s law sort of thing…If I had all my ducks in a row it would be another winter like last!  Here is to procrastination..

This year I got to watch some magic in my kitchen as my oldest daughter took on the task of canning about 80 lbs of peaches.  It was very gratifying watching her and her friend peeling away, mounds of peach skins all over the counters.  They did the processing on the back deck and worked away until 9pm at night.  She got a glimpse of how labor intensive good food is and was entirely proud of her accomplishments.  And I was proud of her.  I love it when something that I have done over the years becomes important to one of my children….I have instilled a value of simplicity and hard work, two traits that make the world a better place.

…and another epic moment happened this weekend when the last of my hens finally laid an egg.  Yes…all but her lay and she was just la-zy!  She got her act together and finally came through although it sounded like all hell was breaking loose in the coop.  Tomorrow morning I will enjoy the fruit of both my labor and hers when I have my breakfast!IMG_0613

Life out in the county is very simple and full for me.  There is always something around the house that needs doing and the pride of ownership often overwhelms me.  How did I get so blessed to live in such a beautiful place?  What did I ever do to deserve what I have been given? Lord only knows.  But I am grateful…I do not take my home for granted!

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South Lake Tahoe Real Estate: Summer is in FULL SWING!

It seems like the days have been in fast forward…it is already almost the end of July!  It has been a constant stream of houseguests, BBQ’s, trips and activity.  Our typical schedule is out the window and late nights by the fire pit have become our norm.  I love it.

The kids and Blair hiked into Dardanelles Lake for an overnighter…I ran in to meet them for a while and ran home before dark.  On the way in I hit it hard, trying to get there as fast as I could so not to miss the kids in the water and rock jumping, but on the way out I took my time.  Running through the meadow was exhilarating…wildflowers present and the sun warmly coating the all that the eye could see.  It hit me again like it often does…I am among the blessed to live in this beautiful place and have all of this right out my front door.  It is humbling to call this home…it is way more than I deserve and I am often in awe in what is readily available to me.  I love Tahoe with all my heart and can not imagine where else I could call home.

I spent a few days in Las Vegas with family this week for my little sister’s wedding.  In that lies an amazing story full of reconciliation and reconnection, but the overwhelming realization was that the city is just not for me.  Aside from it being hot as hell (they say that at 105 degrees it was on the cooler side), the amount of concrete made my heart sad.  Bike paths and trails all manufactured…the whole city’s existence was made not created.  Yes, there is a difference.

But the event was beautiful and I got to be part of something very special…and then I got to return home with a renewed sense of gratitude.  I love home.

Make the most of what is left of this wondrous season…the lake is ready to receive you!11695964_834754806607832_5347485265532281984_n

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South Lake Tahoe Real Estate: Signs that it is Summer!

Although during those 11 or so days of rain I was totally over it, today I am glad.  What a great way to kick off the Summer season!  The moisture was well worth the suffering and as I mentioned in an earlier post, the wildflowers are showing up way ahead of schedule…plan accordingly.

All that rain made my grass grow like crazy! As of yesterday my lawns were in desperate need of a mow…like going to seed in need.  My partner who usually handles all that is out of the country for who knows how long, so I needed help.  I put my Facebook feelers out and someone was over to mow and set my sprinklers to the new schedule within the hour!  That is one of the great things about a small town…it is easy to get the word out when you need a hand.  Fast, friendly and more than fair…my yards look amazing and I have yet to water!

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Summertime means yard sales…millions of them.  People are getting their garages cleaned out and getting rid of all the junk!  When can you feel good about accepting a dollar for something that you paid probably $30 for other than when you are ditching crap in a yard sale??  My older daughters and I hosted a yard sale for a friend and were wheeling and dealing all morning.  Paperbacks for .25 and housewares for $1.00.  I don’t think we took more that $3.00 for any one thing!  A garage that you couldn’t even walk through last week looked pretty good after we were done.

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And of course there is always the pile that I am tempted to bring back inside and put away, but this time I did not!  I put in a “Curb Alert” with the South Lake Tahoe Freebie Community and it wasn’t long before it was basically gone.

 

FullSizeRender 2After it was all said and done, I was dead tired and starving while my little helpers decided to make their way to the beach.  With highs in the 70’s, this was the perfect day to break in the new bikini.  This is my young grand baby, Niya…love her to pieces.

FullSizeRenderJust another normal Saturday in the life.

And let’s not forget the season of stockpiling for the winter.  Although laborious, gathering wood for the winter is great therapy so long as my back holds out.  It is the season of doing each other favors…someone has cut a tree out of their yard and wants the wood gone, I come scoop it up and put it in my yard.  Free fuel and they are as happy to see it go as I am to receive it!

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I love Tahoe.  I love the simplicity and the community.  My neighbors were my best customers today.  I had one that took hockey gear and paid me in apricot jam.  To me, this was way more valuable than money.  As I took my walk down to Lake Baron this evening, I was filled with a level of contentment and deep satisfaction.  I love my home, my neighborhood and my town.  I have a plethora of wonderful amenities right outside my front door.  I feel entirely fortunate to live in such a beautiful place and be able to do so many adventurous things right in my own back yard.

When I came home and put the dogs in the yard, my new chickens were putting themselves to roost in their new coop ( first few nights I had to catch them and put them to bed myself!).  I sat outside on my deck and had supper while the sun was starting to set.  Peace, quite and nature. Ahhh.  Summertime rules.

 

South Lake Tahoe Real Estate: Wildflower season is nearly here!

Unknown-1It is amazing how nature sees the window of opportunity and then plans accordingly.  The wildflowers in the Lake Tahoe basin are a spectacular sight and usually at their peak near the end of June/ beginning of July. This year you will have to plan those wildflower hikes a littler earlier!  Because of the lack of moisture this year you can already see a few snow roses forcing their way through the soil to make their appearance.  Over the last few years of minimal weather, these beauties are becoming harder and harder to find.  If you see them on the trail, be sure to take a photo as their days are numbered if we don’t see a change in the winters.

One my family’s favorite wildflower hikes is Big Meadow, Meiss Meadow and  Lake Winnemucca all rolled into one.  This is a great short trek for beginner backpackers!  All of my kids can hike in, carry their own packs for a couple night’s stay and hike out without even one meltdown!  Yes, even Sam!  Parking is easy at the Big Meadow trailhead and the Tahoe Rim Trail has made it a great adventure for all.

Plan on seeing those wildflowers a little earlier this year.  Come mid July you may have missed them.  Big Meadow has a picturesque setting with lots of Pink Monkey Flowers and Purple Columbine…one of my favorites.  Meiss Meadow, Frog Lake and Lake Winnemucca have an abundance of Blue Flax. Red Mountain Sorrel and Red Alpine Paintbrush that blanket the hillsides.  It really is a mystical experience and if you can get the kids off of their plethora of electronic devices for just a day, they will confess their enjoyment in the end.

Our family did this in a 3 day trek last year…it was spectacular.  No one got to bring their iPods, Kindles, iPads, etc.  It costs next to nothing and it is first come first served at the Ranger Station at the top of Carson Pass.  There are only a few campsites at the lake and they are spread out so you will not be in somebody else’s adventure.  The swimming is a bit frigid, but the kids couldn’t feel it and spent most of the days jumping off rocks and hiking around to the other side of the lake.  At night we played cards, watched the stars and I made up corny horror stories which kept the little ones up with fear.  Good times.

They have asked when we will do that trek this season….it is one of their favorite memories.  I love that they bring it up often…a simple camp trip that really was spontaneous.  I have spent thousands of dollars taking these kids to other countries and yet the free camp trip is one of their favorite memories.  Go figure.  Might it have been because there was not an abundance of exterior stimulation and that I was able to give them the very thing that they need the most…my time??

In closing, I make the claim that wildflowers will improve  your family life.  They will improve your relations with others.  Their medicinal purposes are multi-layered in that they can heal your physical body and your spirit man as well.  They are yet another reason why life in South Lake Tahoe is second to none!  Living here is so much more than a house in the mountains…it is a lifestyle.  Go hike.

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South Lake Tahoe Real Estate: Water Conservation is Our Responsibility

Don’t take water for granted!

With the driest winter on record behind us, water conservation has become an essential practice to all.  Although 90% of the water used in the state of California is for agriculture, we are not relieved of our duty to do our part and steward what we have in a responsible manner.  Teaching the next generation conservation tools is of epic importance as they will inherit all of the problems of today.

We have all been told to take shorter showers and not to leave the sink running while brushing our teeth…but more has to be done!  Below are some practical ways to conserve water in the home and yard.  Accumulative effort does make a difference if we are to survive this upcoming season of drought.

1.  Check your faucets and pipes for leaks

2. Install water saving shower heads and low flow faucet aerators

3.  Use a float booster in your toilet, but make sure to leave at least 3 gal in the tank!

4.  Insulate your pipes

5.  Rinse your razor in a sink with a few inches of water in it

6.  Only wash full loads of laundry/dishes.  Use towels several times before washing

7.  Use that sink stopper when hand washing dishes or rinsing veggies

8. Compost instead of garbage disposal

9. Use a broom to clean driveways and sidewalks

10. Deep soak your lawn

11. Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants

12. Water during the early parts of the day

13. Position sprinklers properly

14.  Use a rain catch system where permitted

15. Wash your car only when it is necessary

This is not an exhaustive list by any means!  Get creative, challenge your children and do your part.  Water conservation is critical even in years of abundance…you will have a lower utility bill and even help prevent water pollution in the nearby lakes, rivers and watersheds.

If you come up with clever ways to conserve, I would love to hear about them!  Email  your great ideas to Brandie@BrandieGriffith.com