Lake Tahoe Vacation Home

26 Replies

Hello, we are looking to purchase a vacation home in Lake Tahoe with the possibility of renting it when we’re not using it. We’d like to stay around 500k for a  min 3/2 turnkey. What areas around Tahoe would you recommend? We are open to both CA and NV sides. 

I just purchased a condo in Tahoe City (in March) and I’m really happy with it. Great location for proximity to the lake, squaw/alpine and Northstar. Good luck, I’m sure you’ll find something awesome. There’s a lot to love in Tahoe! 

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That criteria would be very hard to hit if not impossible in South Lake Tahoe. Turnkey, 3-2 and under 500k is a unicorn in the city areas that would allow vacation rentals. If you want something like that and are willing to do season leases, it’s much more doable. Season leases are generally 4-6 month leases either for the summer season or winter season. This can work out if you just want one of the seasons to yourself and you’re ok not having access during the other season.

There may be some options for vacation rental type properties in the county area of south shore. I would be aware though, the county is slowly going the same way as the city in regulating vacation rentals. So far, they haven’t gone as far as the city and they may not do the same exact restrictions but I’m sure they will be more restricted in one way or another in the near future.

Nevada side of the south shore is generally more expensive. I believe the vacation rental rules are much more lenient but a Turnkey 3/2 will probably be closer to $600k or more or it will come with an HOA fee.

I don’t deal with the north shore myself but my impression is that it will be even more expensive than south shore. You would have to speak with someone more familiar with that area about vacation rental rules.

Please let me know if I can give you any more information concerning the south shore area. I specialize in South Lake Tahoe in particular but could refer you to others for other areas around the lake.

Best of luck with your search!

@Kenneth Mooney I purchased as an investment and yes, income is STR. It is a 4 bed 2.5 bath condo. I found in my research that the returns worked out much better for condos in this local market because they command similar short term rents to houses, but cost a lot less (even accounting for HOA and no extra capex for a house). I went into it knowing that I would use it a couple times per year and it has really been great to be able to use it as an escape from home during the SIP. I'm hopeful that Placer county will be approved for opening STRs on June 1! I have renters lined up that I'd love to not cancel on :)

@Jessica Desai Message me if you would like me to put you in touch my agent up there. We've owned property in South Lake and currently have a 3/2 townhouse in Tahoe City. It's a sellers market right now but you could certainly find a 3/2 turnkey condo in the North/West shore (probably not a single family home though)...just watch your HOA from a cash flow perspective. Tahoe City is our favorite as it's just more family friendly and quiet there, but really anything from Tahoe City to Kings Beach is worth while looking at. Incline is a bit more expensive but you could find a fixer upper condo there with your price point.

Best of luck!

This thread has been really useful. Thank you! I'm also in the market to invest in Tahoe. Awesome to hear so many love Tahoe City. I'm looking for a 4br STR under $700 ideally in SLT based on AirDNA market data.
Does anybody know how South Lake Tahoe enforces those regulations?  There are awesome properties in the city

@Ilan M Aliphas

South Lake Tahoe enforces the Vacation rental regulations with the enforcement officers they hired specifically for that purpose. A large part of the population in the city enjoys watching, finding and reporting vacation rentals who operate outside the rules or have nuisance guests.

Currently, you can buy a property in the tourist core inside city limits and the permitting process is pretty straightforward. You can also get permits outside city limits which we refer to as the county area of South Shore. I would be aware though that the same residents that got Measure T passed in the city are now working actively to get the county board of supervisors to pass stricter regulations in the county as a whole.

Currently there are two 4bd homes for sale in the tourist core. One is a lakefront townhome for $1.8M and the other is a condo in a community that is lakefront with a pool for $870k. Houses in the core definitely sell for a premium now.

While not directly Lake Tahoe, we absolutely love the Truckee area -- especially the Tahoe-Donner development and Donner Lake. It's more laid back than LT with easy access to Northstar and Squaw, as well as skiing in Tahoe Donner and at Sugar Bowl. Just 20 minutes drive North from the Lake. 

We love Truckee because of the hip small town feel. There are also great dining & drinking options as lots of big city chefs moved up to Truckee to "retire". We never really got a vibe that we enjoyed from either SLT or TC. Those places always gave off a suburbs in the mountain vibe.

If you want to talk to a realtor in Truckee, we worked with Kari Chalstrom of High Mountain Living to purchase a place this past month. She came highly recommended from a number of friends in the area. 

Be warned as the Shelter in Place ordnance has lifted, the rate of home selling has increased pretty dramatically. As have the prices compared to what you could get in April/May. Lot's of Bay Area folks coming up the mountain to escape Silicon Valley and they are bringing gobs of cash. Kari told us that it was good that we executed when we did as now you have to be prepared to jump same day if you like a place (and be prepared for lots of competition). 

I love Tahoe-Donner too but am not convinced that it would attract as much STR income as SLT or TC. Having said that, I put in a couple offers up there but the market was too hot for me to get into at this time and price point.

In fact I'm the backup offer on a property with great potential as a flip but would not want to keep it as an STR. Crossing finger for the deal to land on my lap. And I ended up getting a property in SLT just outside the city

Hey frank that's awesome! Just got back, what a great place. 

I'm interested too. But closer to Truckee. Donner area. Price points are different that said, is it possible to cash flow with short and mid term rentals ie airbnb 

Or is there an appreciation play / other play here. 

Lmk if I can be of any help. 

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@Jessica Desai Tahoe prices have shot up recently. South Lake in the County is probably your best bet. Or if in the city limits make sure it is in the area zoned for “vacation homes”. You will be hard pressed to find a 3/2 in Tahoe for that price, if you do please let me know! Best of luck!

@Andy C. I definitely think its possible to STR in Tahoe. I've used AIRDNA to help analyze some deals and I'm seeing gross revenues in the 50 to 55k range. I can't speak to Donner/Truckee area, but that's also a great place that I would think you could STR.

My main goal is to get a few STR that I can then use the cash flow to fund some LTR deals closer to home. Appreciation would be nice, but that's not my main objective. But as you know, California real estate always appreciates.

My last post here was 5 months ago so here’s an update:

I got a place in the South Lake Tahoe county in early July. It took a few months to get the STR permits in place and used the time to furnish and get the place in tip top shape. Investments aside... it was a wonderful summer.

Been renting it out for a few months and it’s been great so far.  We have been booked at least every weekend and we are booked already until mid January with few exceptions.  I’m happy to share details about my experience if you have questions

@Ilan M Aliphas Your property looks absolutely amazing! Did you have to do a lot of work on it? Interested to see the "before" pics. :D  I am beginning to consider whether to invest in the Tahoe area, but a bit concerned about the unknown future regulations.. given the recent protest against STRs, I am sure it's going to get worse. Wondering if the permits are transferrable to new owners? At least you get to retain the value even if regulation tightens. 

Originally posted by @Jorge Chang :

@Ilan M Aliphas Your property looks absolutely amazing! Did you have to do a lot of work on it? Interested to see the "before" pics. :D  I am beginning to consider whether to invest in the Tahoe area, but a bit concerned about the unknown future regulations.. given the recent protest against STRs, I am sure it's going to get worse. Wondering if the permits are transferrable to new owners? At least you get to retain the value even if regulation tightens. 

Not too much work.  Most of it was small things that I could do most of them myself.  For example, the previous owner had a wood burning fire pit that would not be approved during the fire inspection. I built an LP gas fire pit with a timer valve.  Just stuff like that that is better for STRs.