Is Lake Tahoe right for you? When to buy and when not to!

Warren Oberholser
Warren Oberholser
Published on January 25, 2021

Is Lake Tahoe right for you? Let’s find out!

Hi, I’m Warren Oberholser. I’m a realtor in the East Bay Tri-Valley area in Northern California. My goal is to help both buyers and sellers get maximum results for one of their biggest investments, their home.

This is part three of my annual Lake Tahoe winter report. In this BLOG (and video), I’ll discuss types of properties to consider purchasing in Lake Tahoe, location, and most important, is Lake Tahoe right for you?

To start out, I’ll discuss some details on the size of the lake. The main two areas of Lake Tahoe are North and South Shore.

Being it is so large, I’m going to divide it further into four quadrants, North, South, West, and East. Two-thirds are in California.

One third is in Nevada. Each area has its own unique charm. There is so much to this lake that I could post 10 videos and still just be scratching the surface on all it has to offer.

For this reason, here are some important planning steps I recommend you follow to determine where on Lake Tahoe you may want to own.

Number one: ACTIVITES

Are you interested in both summer and winter activities? If so, you want to choose an area that best fits all your needs.

Heavenly Ski Resort

If you’re a skier, you may want to pick an area that is close to your favorite ski resort.

Kirkwood Ski Resort

For example, if you like Kirkwood, you want to look at real estate in that area as opposed to owning property an hour away in South Lake Tahoe.

Please understand, when I say it’s an hour away, this is providing the road is clear and has no issues like chain control or is just closed due to snow.

Kirkwood ski Resort- Valley

So let’s say you do purchase a property in the Kirkwood community, and this is a beautiful area year-round, but it is an hour away from the actual lake and all its activities, which include restaurants, entertainment, etc. This is something you’ll need to work through to find the best solution.


Harvey Casino Resort
Do you want nightlife activity?

This dovetails to activities. If you’re interested in winter sports, find out if the road going to the property you want to purchase has a regular snow removal service.

You may want to purchase a property close to your favorite ski resort

If you want nightlife activity, you may want to consider something close to the casinos in the South Lake area. (Havey’s Resorts)


Now, this can be a government service like Caltrans in California or a private company.

Does your cabin have snow removal service?

You don’t want to purchase a cabin in a remote area and then find out that it is not accessible during the winter months. It may be beautiful in the summer and fall, but a nightmare when the snow starts to fall.

Number three: MAINTENANCE

Let’s assume this purchase is going to be a vacation property, a second home, not your primary residence.

Make sure you have someone to handle the regular maintenance

This means you’ll need to find someone to handle the usual maintenance and seasonal duties needed to keep the home in good order, such as clearing pine needles, leaves, tree pruning, snow removal after a storm, et cetera. Some people don’t mind these duties.

However, if you can’t get up there for a while, these items can become an issue. Let’s go back to snow. I’m assuming your new property has a snow removal service to keep the road cleared so you can get up thereafter it snows. However, what about your driveway, walkway around that property, and especially your entrance?

Find a service to clear your drive before you arrive.

You may want to have a service to handle these areas or find a great neighbor to help you out.

Avoid getting stuck!

You don’t want to drive up on a Friday night and be greeted with a ton of work before you can have access to your mountain home.

Number four: Type of property to purchase

So you know the area you want in Lake Tahoe. Now you need to determine what kind of property you want to purchase.

It can be a condo, townhome type arrangement, a single-detached home, or possibly a property inside a private community that offers certain types of amenities. For purpose of this video, when I say townhome or condo property, I’m referring to units that share a common wall. It could be side-by-side units or a multiple story construction.

Some advantages to this type of arrangement are the HOA usually handles all the common area maintenance, including the exterior property and the grounds.

Condo, Townhome will have HOA and limited privacy

There will be monthly or annual HOA fees. Also, sharing a common wall means you may hear your neighbor and your privacy is limited.

Single-family residence, if condo or townhome isn’t for you, you may want to consider a detached single-family home with the yard. It offers privacy but comes with all the maintenance as discussed earlier.

Private communities may have HOAs and CC&Rs

The last option on my list is purchasing your home in a private community. Now they all vary in arrangements from common area maintenance to security. They will have HOA fees and CC&Rs, which are rules you’ll have to live with.

As a realtor, you may think the purpose of this video is to get you to buy in Lake Tahoe.

Should you buy or rent in Lake Tahoe?

Actually, it’s not. The purpose of my BLOG (video), as with all my videos, is to hopefully impart as much helpful information as I can so you can decide what is best for you.

So the bottom line is, how often do you plan to use the property, regardless of your intentions are to use it in both winter and summer?


If your schedule only allows you to get up there a few times a year, you may want to consider just renting it. This way, you have the option to stay in all the different areas Lake Tahoe has to offer.

It may be helpful to rent in different locations in Lake Tahoe.

I also recommend renting for a bit if you’re still deciding what is best for you.

Okay, so let’s say you’re planning to use it a lot and purchasing seems to be the right way to go. The next question is when is the best time to purchase? Well, regarding getting a good deal, you should consider any time the market has more active inventory than pending and recent closing sales. This is referred to as the comps. This can be considered a buyer’s market. However, I do not want to get into that subject at this time. I’ll table that for another BLOG (video).

So with high active inventory, a buyer can usually negotiate better terms and price as opposed to dealing with low inventory, which can create buyers bidding war nightmare (Seller’s market).

Obviously, a recession economy will yield lower prices, especially with short sales and foreclosed properties(REO).

However, distressed properties can have deferred maintenance issues. So a buyer will need to be very careful with their inspection due diligence.

To subsidize costs, consider renting your property or owning it with a partner(s).

To subsidize your costs, you may want to consider renting your unit out when you’re not there or share the expenses with another party. Now, if you do this, you may want to consult with a property management company to handle all the details such as collecting the rent, deposits, contracts, and handle all the immediate needs a renter may have while staying at your property. If you’re purchasing the property with another person or group, you may want to generate an agreement between all parties on how the property will be shared. It may be best to consult an attorney to handle these details.

The last point I’d like to discuss is using my real estate services for purchasing up in Lake Tahoe.

Warren Oberholser, Realtor (eXp Realty)

I first need to point out I only have a real estate license in California, therefore I cannot represent a client on the Nevada side.

I can refer you to a real estate agent in Nevada

I do have relationships with agents who work in the Nevada area, and I can refer you to them. Regarding transactions on the California side of Lake Tahoe, yes I do and have represented buyers in those areas. Now I’m based out of the Bay Area.

I have helped buyers purchase vacation property in Lake Tahoe

However, I do travel up to Lake Tahoe regularly, both winter and summer. If my clients have located a property they are interested in, it is very easy for me to reach out to the listing agent and get all the details on the property they’re interested in and submit a contract.

Most real estate transaction are perform online-especially with our current social distancing guidines.

Please understand most real estate transactions these days are handled over the internet, via email, online signature companies like DocuSign. Once in contract, I handle all the details, including meeting the inspectors at the property at the time of the inspection.

California Lake Tahoe real estate referral network

The last area I’d like to discuss is my real estate referral network for the California side in Lake Tahoe. If a client is in the beginning stage of viewing properties and deciding where the best area in Lake Tahoe is, I have local agents I can refer them to. This way, they can take their time, making sure they have found the best area that fits all their needs. This also goes for anyone who wants to sell their property in Lake Tahoe.

I recommend they work with a local agent that knows and has experience selling in that area where their property is located. So if needed, I can provide referrals for all these types of services.


I hope you enjoyed this article. Please let me know if you have any questions. Warren


Hello…I work with both buyers and sellers in the Tri-Valley area of Northern California. The Tri-Valley is comprised of 6 cities: Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, San Ramon, Danville, and Alamo. To better understand what each city has to offer, I have created a Pros and Cons video and BLOG for each – (Pros & Cons for Pleasanton, Pros & Cons for Livermore, Pros & Cons for Dublin, Pros & Cons for San Ramon, Pros & Cons for Danville and Pros & Cons for Alamo). If you are thinking about purchasing or selling a home, please reach out to me by text, phone, or email. If it is convenient, I can schedule a Zoom chat so we can discuss your home goals. Wishing you all the best on your home journey. Cheers!

Warren Oberholser


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Warren Oberholser

eXp Realty

[email protected]

(925) 980-4603

DRE # 01861944


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