Are You Ready to Purchase a Vacation Home Near Lake Tahoe?

Live Tahoe Real Estate

Buying a second home is one of the single largest decisions you will make financially. Owning a vacation home in Lake Tahoe is a dream for most people. However, even for those who prefer living in Lake Tahoe full-time, purchasing a vacation home in the area requires a certain skill and knowledge of the local real estate market.
According to Niche, Lake Tahoe is one of the best places to live in California, with some of the best landscapes to spice your vacation and neighborhoods for the ultimate living. What is it like living in South Lake Tahoe?
With the help of a South Lake Tahoe realtor at Live Tahoe Real Estate, you can explore the area in search of the best vacation homes. Check out our guide on what next once you are ready to buy that vacation home in Lake Tahoe.

Things to consider before buying a second home in Lake Tahoe

Before you get soaked in by the crystal-clear alpine water and other amazing reasons to buy a second home in Lake Tahoe, come up with a list of questions to help you make an informed purchase. Here are a few critical questions to ask yourself before considering buying a second home in Lake Tahoe.

What type of vacation home fits your needs and goals?

Tahoe is a multi-season recreation and vacation destination. It has various properties, from timeshares and luxury condos to fully-fledged mountain chalets and single-family homes.
Generally, Tahoe vacation homeowners typically purchase vacation homes depending on personal interests and needs. Do you prefer owning a vacation rental or living near Lake Tahoe for summer watersports?
Perhaps you'd prefer to purchase a vacation home near some of the best Tahoe ski resorts. Get a Live Tahoe real estate agent to help you scout the available vacation homes to find the one that matches your personal and financial needs or goals.

How much can you afford to pay for the Tahoe vacation home?

As with any other real estate purchase, factors affecting how much you afford to purchase a vacation home in Tahoe include:
  • Down payment amounts
  • Mortgage/lender interest rates
  • Your ability to manage the monthly mortgage payments.
There are a few more vital factors to consider when considering the financial aspects of buying a second home/ vacation home near Lake Tahoe. For starters, do you consider using the Tahoe vacation home as a vacation rental?
If yes, you will have to consider:
  • High maintenance costs
  • Property management costs
  • Property taxes. 
Such extra fees are understandable, considering Tahoe is a hotspot for tourists and visitors. Secondly, winter maintenance services such as snow removal are vital to keep your vacation home in proper condition, mainly since the area receives an average of over 200 inches of snow yearly. Property maintenance fees can be relatively costly, thus needing prior financial planning.

Where do you want to buy the vacation in Tahoe?

A common misconception is that Lake Tahoe is an actual city. However, the name is in reference to the famous lake, which is also a major attraction. Generally, the name 'Lake Tahoe' refers to the entire area surrounding the lake.
Lake Tahoe lies on the California-Nevada border, with most towns and localities situated along the Truckee River and Lake Tahoe's south and north ends. Some of the towns and areas you can visit to shop for a vacation home include:
  • South Lake Tahoe. South Lake Tahoe is the largest city surrounding Lake Tahoe and is home to multiple recreational and residential living opportunities.

  • Olympic Valley. It is located between Lake Tahoe and Truckee Valley. As one of the best places to ski in the US, Olympic Valley is an ideal ground to purchase a vacation home near Lake Tahoe.

  • Tahoma. Tahoma is on the western shore of Lake Tahoe. It is a popular tourist and recreational destination for people living near Lake Tahoe. As a popular summer destination for outdoor lovers, Tahoma is also an excellent place to buy a second home.

  • Truckee. Truckee is a popular vacation destination with easy access to some of the best ski resorts.

  • Incline Village is located on the Nevada side of the lake and is a popular destination for vacation home buyers due to its tax friendly benefits, scenic location on the shores of Lake Tahoe and its abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities.

  • Tahoe City. Tahoe City, located on the northwest shore of Lake Tahoe, is another popular destination for those looking to purchase a vacation home. With easy access to skiing, hiking, and water sports, it's an outdoor enthusiast's paradise. The town itself offers a charming downtown area with shops, restaurants, and cultural events.
Our Live Tahoe team of South Lake Tahoe realtors can help you explore the wide range of properties in different parts of the surrounding areas near Lake Tahoe.

How regularly will you use the vacation home in Lake Tahoe?

Second homeowners use their homes less often than expected yearly. You will likely buy a second home in Lake Tahoe, purposely for seasonal vacations. If you plan on buying a vacation home near Lake Tahoe, you can consider partly renting it out to visitors at times when you're not around.
This way, you can financially justify the second home purchase. Despite Lake Tahoe's seasonal vacation rental market, short-term rentals can be a good idea, especially with solid property management. The Live Tahoe team can help guide you through the different vacation rental markets around the lake.

When is the best time to buy a second home in Lake Tahoe?

Tahoe has some of the most expensive luxury properties in the broader Sacramento Metro surrounding. Additionally, most property prices are significantly higher than the national average, with a $470,900 median house value. However, with proper timing and the help of an experienced Live Tahoe real estate agent, you can ensure a relatively affordable second home purchase.

Is Spring the best time to buy a second home in Tahoe?

Most real estate agents agree Spring is the best time to buy a home. During Spring, property listings in Lake Tahoe start to pick up. As such, you will have many vacation homes to choose from. Expect massive competition and bidding wars from other potential buyers and realtors.
Additionally, you can take advantage of the Spring weather to thoroughly evaluate a property's condition. During winter, it becomes virtually impossible to conduct a proper home inspection.

What about winter purchases?

Conversely, Winter listings tend to be relatively fewer. Therefore, while this can mean limiting your options, it also gives you bargaining power. You can bargain lower offers since active buyers in the market are few. A property that stays long in the market grants you a better chance of negotiating lower offers.
Unfortunately, in this respect, Lake Tahoe's data can be highly volatile. As such, your best chance is to consider using a local Live Tahoe real estate agent since they can guide you properly on how to time selling within the local real estate market.

How to buy a vacation home in Lake Tahoe (getting the best property deals)

Here are the steps to purchase a vacation home near Lake Tahoe.

Hire the best Lake Tahoe real estate agent

Ensure you get a highly qualified real estate agent with experience in the Lake Tahoe market. A reputable South Lake Tahoe realtor, like Chris and Brooke Hernandez at Compass, can help you determine the best time for property purchases.
The local real estate agent can help you find the best prices for vacation homes in Tahoe. Additionally, they can guide you throughout the financial aspects of purchasing a home, including recommending reputable lenders or financing options.

Determine your needs and goals

Start by assessing your short or long-term goals/needs before viewing vacation homes in Lake Tahoe. Important considerations during this step include:
  • Property size
  • Your budget
  • Your ideal location.
You can discuss your needs and goals with the real estate agent. That way, they can short-list ideal vacation home options.

Source finances

It is advisable to have your finances in order before making an offer. The typical duration to close a deal upon making an offer is 30 days. Pre-arranging your financing before making an offer is important to avoid financial setbacks during the 30 days.
Fortunately, your real estate agent can guide and advise you on ideal financing options, including taking up a second mortgage. If you choose mortgage/bank financing, you may have to provide supporting documents to prove your ability to finance the monthly loan payments.

Make your offer and negotiate the best price

Once you have found a suitable and reliable lender, approach the seller with your offer. Usually, the best way to negotiate a home purchase is via a real estate agent. Your real estate agent will negotiate the best property price with the seller's real estate agent. They will likely agree on a price or exchange offers until one party backs out.

Conduct a home inspection, then close

If you agree on a price, you can enter the escrow phase. During this 30-day window, you can conduct an extensive home inspection to secure your purchase. If you discover any major home defects, you can either refuse to deal or negotiate a lower price with the option of the seller doing the repairs. However, you can close the deal and sign the relevant paperwork if the home is in good condition.

Buy a Lake Tahoe vacation home with us

Our Live Tahoe real estate agents can help you search for the best vacation homes near Lake Tahoe. Chris and Brooke Hernandez can help you find the best second homes that match your needs and goals. With our extensive experience in the local real estate market, we can also help you negotiate the best property prices to ensure a sound purchase. Contact us to get started on buying a second home on Lake Tahoe.


Renowned for their unparalleled experience in Tahoe, Glenbrook, and Incline Village real estate, paired with unrivaled local insight and an unwavering work ethic, the duo consistently delivers the ultimate client experience. Whether it's a lakefront property in Tahoe, a cozy residence in Glenbrook, or a second home in the heart of Incline Village, Team Hernandez approaches each venture with unmatched enthusiasm, accessibility, and transparency.

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