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  • May 13, 2021

Exclusive: A Wave of Tech Workers Tranformed Tahoe Into a High-Priced ‘Zoom-Town’

 Exclusive: A Wave of Tech Workers Tranformed Tahoe Into a High-Priced ‘Zoom-Town’

In 2018 Oracle’s Larry Ellison bought the historic Cal Neva Lodge on the scenic north shore of California’s Lake Tahoe for $36 million. Then in 2019 Mark Zuckerberg bought a $59 million compound on Lake Tahoe’s west shore.

But now a wave of techies are moving in, reports Outside magazine, “freed by COVID from cubicles and work commutes. They migrated, laptops in tow, to mountain towns all over the West, transforming them into modern-day boomtowns: ‘Zoom-towns.'”

“It’s the wildest time,” says realtor Katey Brandenburg, who works on Tahoe’s Nevada side. For her and other realtors around the lake, the autumn of 2020 felt like winning the lottery. “I paid off a lifetime of debt — 28 years of loans, college, credit cards, and cars — in three months.”

All told, 2020 saw more than 2,350 homes sold across the Tahoe Basin, for a boggling $3.28 billion, up from $1.76 billion in 2019, according to data analyzed by Sierra Sotheby’s. That $3 billion stat is on a par with 2020 home-sales revenues in Aspen, Colorado (albeit there, the latest average home-sale price came in at $11 million). The trend is in line with real estate records being shattered from Sun Valley, Idaho, to Stowe, Vermont. And according to a just-released market update, it hasn’t stopped: in the first quarter of 2021, median prices for single-family homes increased by an astronomical 70 percent year over year in Truckee, 72 percent in South Lake, and 81 percent in Incline Village…

“A disproportionate number of people who purchased homes in Tahoe in 2020 are employees of some of the largest tech companies in the Bay Area,” says Deniz Kahramaner, founder of Atlasa, a real estate brokerage firm that specializes in data analytics. Of the 2,280 new-home buyers Atlasa identified throughout the Tahoe region in 2020, roughly 30 percent worked at software companies. The top three employers were Google (54 buyers), Apple (46), and Facebook (34)…

There is, however, one glaring issue with all this rapid, high-priced growth: the people who actually make a mountain town run — the ski instructors and patrollers, lift operators and shuttle drivers, housekeepers and snowcat mechanics, cooks and servers — can no longer afford to live there.
The article does note higher property taxes going toward public services (along with “more money eventually pumping into bars and restaurants.”) And it also acknowledges affordable housing has for decades been an issue in tourist towns.

“It’s just suddenly on steroids…”

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Reporters Team

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