Friday, April 24, 2009

If you build it, they will come...

A lot of folks ask me what there is to do in the spring in the Tahoe area. Spring is actually my favorite time of year. So is summer. And fall. And winter. Well, really, Tahoe is perfect for all seasons, I guess.

We have a very special new baseball team in the area, the Reno Aces. They are the minor league team for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Opening day was on April 17th and was sold out. We were able to get tickets for the 18th. What a treat! If you are in the area, I highly recommend a visit to the new ballpark for a game.

Tickets were only $9 and the seats were great! There was a group of about 18 of us that went. We ate downtown, walked to the park, enjoyed gorgeous sunset and a warm evening participating in America's favorite pastime.

Ski report:

Squaw is still open and the conditions are unseasonably good! They have new snow as of today!

A group of us ventured down to Kirkwood and Mammoth this past week and had a blast! Kirkwood is closing this weekend, Mammoth does not close until Memorial Day... the snow was perfect in the morning, a little sloppy in the afternoon.

Golf Course Report:
Old Greenwood and Gray's Crossing open on May 15th. Coyote Moon opens on May 22nd. Old Brockway in King's Beach is already open if you need to hit some balls...
Weather Vane Brad says:
Mild and breezy until Tuesday (40's and 50's) and then a small system lacking moisture will move in Tuesday and Wednesday. Unsettled spring weather for the rest of the week.

On a Green Note:

In honor of Earth Day, Disney is planting a tree for every person who buys a ticket to the new "Earth" movie through April 28th. Good stuff.

Next time let's talk some real estate...

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Nephew Day - Part II

Well, many of the area ski mountains closed yesterday, so you will have to save these tips for next season...

1. Parking-there is a pay lot just below the bus turn around. On weekdays, it is usually $20 weekends can get up to $50. There is free shuttle in parking. I would recommend dropping the kids off first, locating a Northstar cart, and then driving back out to the shuttle parking. It is near the gas station right off Hwy. 267. It seems like a pain at first, but really the shuttles run all of the time and it usually doesn't take that long.

2. The Northstar Pull Cart-usually they stack them up right by the skier drop off area next to the real estate office. If you can't find one, look around or ask an employee. They wear yellow jackets and there are information areas designated with a white umbrella all over the Village.

3. Ski School Reservations-for Northstar go to and the site will guide you through which age level class your child needs to be in and the various packages you can choose. Make sure you print out your confirmation code and bring it with you the day of the lessons. It is important to do this early as the classes fill up.

4. If you don't want to deal with renting equipment at Northstar, which sometimes can be a nightmare, I have 2 suggestions. One is Tahoe Dave's. Their equipment is good, you can reserve online, and they are used to dealing with a lot of people. They are also very reasonable. . The second option is Black Tie Ski Rentals. They actually deliver equipment to where you are staying so you don't have to go anywhere at all. They are a little bit more expensive, but the convenience may be worth it. Go to and choose the North Tahoe location to begin. I know the guys that own the company and they are awesome. One thing to note is that helmets are provided with ski school so you don't need to rent one.

5. Starbucks-Is located in the Village right by the ice skating rink.

6. Sunscreen-Can be purchased in the Northstar Logo store which is a few storefronts down on the left when you are walking from the skier drop off, or True North which is on the right after the skier drop off area.

7. Ski School Drop off-Is on the south side of the ice skating rink. You will see signs above the doors where you should go in. Once you get there, you will be greeted and shown which line you are to be in for the age group(s) of your child. From here it is a breeze. Just make sure that you give yourself at least 20-30 minutes before the drop off time. For instance, we had to drop the boys off at 9:30 and were there are 9:15 which was good but we could have used an extra 5 or 10 minutes.

8. Ski School Pick up-Is above the drop off area. There is an "upper deck" with seating, fire pits and a bar. This is where you pick the kids up.

9. Churros and Waffles-There is a churro stand near the ice skating rink, and the "waffles" (which are really like doughnuts but very tasty) are all located in "Euro Snack" stands. You will see these stands all over the place in Northstar, there are a few in the Village, one at mid-mountain, and even one in the shuttle lot out by the gas station.

10. The bus to the shuttle lot-is in the lower plaza area below the skier drop off. Your shuttle driver should have told you which post to come back to so you can get your car.

11. Margarita-Not mentioned in the last post, but for the record if you need one, the best margaritas in Truckee are at Casa Baeza, and they are not on the menu. Ask for the "Clay Pot Margarita" and you will not be disappointed. They are about $10 but totally worth it.

Squaw is still open until May 15th if you need to get some more turns in. I will say that 70 degree weather is making me lean towards running, biking, swimming, and boating.

Next post-our newest sports addition-The Reno Aces baseball team.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Learning to Ski at Northstar - The Nephew Day Part I

Now back to my original post and the ski day with my nephews. This is a whole new spin on "working for your turns" if you ask me. This post will be in 2 parts. The "experience" is Part I, the "logistics" will be Part II.

Noah is 5, Nathan is 7. The day starts out early with a lot of not wanting to ski. Whether it be because it was their first and second times, or because it was just plain cold out, we'll never know. Off we go.

There are several keys to success with the kids ski day:

1. A parking spot. I am fortunate enough to have one through work, otherwise that would be a whole other adventure. Without a spot, you have three choices: to pay, to shuttle in, or to buy a condo.
2. Starbucks
3. Reservations for ski school and your confirmation code with you. (MUST do this ahead of time)
4. Favorite toys and/or snacks and treats for bribery.
5. Sunscreen
6. Camera
7. Starbucks
8. Last but not least, the EVER important Northstar pull cart. See picture above. This, incidentally, is the best improvement that Northstar made in the past year. You can tow kids, equipment, and odds and ends around. If you have to schlep, you have to have the cart.


The Northstar ski school is a machine. You get there, figure out what line you are supposed to be in, give them your confirmation info, equipment, slather the sunscreen on the boys, take a picture, and before you know it (or before any tears can be shed), the boys are whisked away to a day on the slopes. It is an intense 20 minute experience. (Hence the need for the second Starbucks).

My sister and I take a deep breath, a quick glance behind our shoulders to make sure they are safe, and then we (gleefully?) skip to the gondola for our adult ski adventure.

Our day was fabulous: sun, a posh lunch at Schaffer's Camp, no calls from ski school and a fine Tahoe spring ski day.

In the blink of an eye, 3:30 rolled around and we skied down to find the boys. There are TONS of parents and kids being reunited-the instructors are downloading their interpretations of the progress of their young skiers/snowboarders, the kids are looking ragged, the parents are anxiously awaiting a report about their little snow looks like chaos, but somehow the folks running the operation seem to know who belongs to who.

We find Nathan first, he had a great time. He had skied the season before and his interest and confidence are blooming. Then we find Noah and get a luke-warm report. He catches on quickly and appears to be bored with just "pizza" (or snowplow). He was ready for some "french fries" (going straight down). Both of their feet HURT from their boots. Should I tell them now that their feet will always hurt in ski boots? No.

The boys receive an oozingly sticky sugary delicious churro and waffle for their valiant efforts, we find a Northstar cart and tow "Team Ski Tahoe" to the drop off, get everyone in the car, and the naps are on.

The next day my sister and I took the boys up ourselves to Bear Paw (beginner ski run) and the magic carpet area at mid-mountain Northstar. We had a blast. The progress they made was amazing and the sense of pride and accomplishment that shone in their blue and green eyes made the weekend worth every bit of the effort. It looks like Nathan will be taking on the Big Mountain next time, and Noah may do a bit more of Bear Paw before he is ready for the Olympics.

There is something special about being a small part of the growth and development of a child's life, to see and feel their successes, and celebrate their victories... you parents know all about this and that is why you can't imagine your lives a different way.

Northstar has a great ski program for kids, but nothing beats getting them on the slopes with you and sharing the experience.

Next post will include details such as where to park, how to get ski school reservations in advance, where to get sunscreen, where to get equipment, where ski school is located, and most importantly, where to get the Northstar Cart.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

For Love or Money?

With the recent reductions we have seen in real estate prices, many of my friends and clients ask me how the people who bought their second homes at the top of the market are feeling right now.

*These are not active sellers, but people who are watching new comps in their neighborhood come in at 25%-50% below what they paid.

Fortunately, most of the folks who I ask about this have a great outlook on the situation.

Here are the reasons they bought back then:
1. They wanted a place to use with their families and create traditions.
2. They loved the property/location/amenities.
3. They believed in the long term value of the communities where they bought.
4. They had no intention of selling their properties in the foreseeable future.
5. They thought their property would end up being a good place to put their money.

Notice that the "love" comes before the "money". This list is in the order of what their priorities were when they bought.

Here are the reasons they are not mad now:
1. They have a place to use with their family now and are creating traditions.
2. They love their home/condo and the area.
3. They believe that values will increase again and that they bought in the right place.
4. They have no intention of selling their properties any time soon.
5. They still think they put their money in a good investment vehicle. (It may have been in the stock market otherwise).

This is a representation of a handful of people that I have spoken with. However, I think they make a solid point that when you buy real estate, you should do it for love AND money. Not one or the other.

You are not going to get the best deal on a property if you are too emotionally attached to it when you buy. You also are not going to "flip" a property that you buy now in a year and double your money. There must be a balance.

There are some amazing deals out there now, the market can be your oyster. With the right intentions and balanced, realistic expectations you can be successful in all aspects of purchasing real estate in this new climate.

Enough about real estate....

Fun local updates:
If you plan to be here for the Easter weekend, here are some tips-

Northstar will be having an Easter party with THE Easter Bunny and an egg hunt with over 2,000 eggs. Check it out!

Schaffer's Camp is serving Easter Brunch ONLY on Sunday, and you must have reservations. The Easter Bunny will make several appearances as well, and you must RSVP to see the Easter Bunny too! Please call 530.550.3800 for more details.

The Lone Eagle Grille at the Hyatt in Incline Village has an amazing brunch. They may be a little busy for Easter, but I highly recommend giving it a try. The atmosphere is unbeatable and the food is out of this world. You can try to book online or call 775.886.6899.

Squaw Valley is having a big tent sale and also a "Peaks and Lagoons" spring party, check out the the details.

In other news:

The Wild Goose restaurant will open the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend. They are adding some new twists to their menu and events such as Thursday night Jazz...more info to come.

Weather vane Brad says:

On and off showers as another storm moves in on Thursday. The main part of the storm splits and goes south of us so no significant accumulation maybe 3-6 inches on the mountain by Friday morning. Weekend should be nice and fairly cool with temps in the 40’s. Two potential systems for next week on Tuesday and Thursday, then the storm track should move North of us for a while bringing back sunny skies and warmer temps.

Ski now or forever hold your peace. Well, at least until next season.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Half-Priced Real Estate...It is here!!

This past week I have seen some amazing "lows" with regards to real estate in this area:

Example 1-

Village at Northstar condo. Brand new, 3 BR/3 BA, views of the ski slopes and gondola. List price last winter was $1.8M. List price this winter ~$1.4M. Sold price last week- $900,000.00 including furniture ($546/foot). In 2006 the condo 2 floors up-same floorplan-sold for +$1200/foot.

Example 2-

The Village Walk Townhomes. Two townhomes sold this past week at $1.5M each. The one next door to these sold for almost $3M last year. Gorgeous 4 BR/4.5 homes in a gated community adjacent to Northstar mountain.

Check out the 8 remaining homes

What do these recent comps have in common??

  • All of these examples are new construction, high-end, furnished residences with premier locations and extensive amenity packages.

  • All of these closings were 7-10 day cash transactions
  • All of these new owners bought these properties to use with their families now instead of "waiting" to see if the market will drop further. (50% off isn't bad...)

  • These new owners watched other areas in N. Lake Tahoe and did their research for quite some time before buying.

  • These new owners are very real estate savvy and are entrenched professionally in the SF Bay area and global markets.

There are phenomenal real estate opportunities all over the N. Lake Tahoe market NOW and there are people taking advantage of these deals NOW. The prices are right and the sellers have to negotiate. Beautiful new construction homes are selling for way below replacement cost. These types of comps are becoming "normal" every week up here.

Ski Resort Info...

For those of you coming up to Tahoe the next few weeks...Northstar is scheduled to close on April 19th. The ice skating rink is set to turn into roller skating this Friday, April 3rd. Alpine Meadows is scheduled to close on April 19th as well. Squaw says they are closing May 15th.

Golf info...

Martis Camp will be opening their golf course on May 22nd. There are some amazing incentives over there now on new lot sales...ask me for more details.

Lahontan golf course will open on May 8th.

Weather info...

Weather vane Brad's forecast for the next few days...

High pressure ridge that has been sending storms just North of us for the past week will begin to move and break down Thursday night. High winds on Thursday and Friday and a chance for some light snow Friday morning. Sun will return for the weekend with Sunday being the warmest day. The system that brings us snow on Fri. morning opens the storm gate. Chances for snow on Monday then another chance towards the end of that week and another potential cold storm middle of the week of April 13th.

Brad is not giving up on more powder days this year, don't you give up either!!