What is happening in Tahoe during the Coronavirus Outbreak?

First of all, we at Team Paradise and all of Sierra Sotheby's International Realty hope you are staying safe and healthy. We know this is a scary time for many around the world, especially those in the hardest hit areas with the highest concentration of positive Covid-19 cases.

This post will discuss how the current Covid-19 situation in Tahoe may affect the following:

  • Visiting Lake Tahoe
  • Buying property in Tahoe
  • Selling property in Tahoe


Tahoe is always a prime location for visitors from around the world. It is peaceful, beautiful, and offers plenty of outdoor activities. States and Cities around the Country have issued "stay at home" orders and people are trying to figure out what to do for 30 days being stuck in their homes. So it's no surprise that some have decided to get out of their home in the city and go to the mountains to get a little break.

Local, State, and Federal leadership have been reminding people that the "stay at home" orders are NOT a vacation. The purpose is to keep everyone separated to prevent the increasing spread of the new coronavirus and to limit the spread to more areas.

Trust us, we get it. When faced with spending 30 days locked in a home in the city that has little to no yard and only other buildings to look out at, we would be wanting to head to a more peaceful place as well. However, the fact is if people break the "stay at home" orders and travel to other locations, the virus will have a chance to gain a foothold in even more locations.

But most importantly, our small mountain hospitals are not equipped to handle very many patients. On the south shore, Barton Hospital only has 63 patient beds and only 8 ICU beds. With a local full-time population of over 30,000 in South Lake Tahoe, the hospital will be pushed past it's limit if an outbreak of cases starts to hit the area.

All around the lake the hotels and motels have shut down per the emergency declarations in California and Nevada. Short term rentals (vacation homes) have also been asked to follow the same rules as hotels, and are blocking their calendars for the entire "stay at home" period for both states. The only exceptions allowed to stay in short term rentals are people who fall under the exempt categories (medical, emergency, utility services). Local jurisdictions may begin issuing fines for vacation rentals who continue to allow bookings during the 30 day period.


The real estate industry in Tahoe has been impacted by the "stay at home" orders as well, but to differing degrees in California vs. Nevada. Lets get into the different state rules and what they mean for buyers around Lake Tahoe.

One thing that is the same across both states is that you will be asked by the agent if you and others in your group have recently been sick and where you have traveled in the past 14 to 30 days. Don't be offended by this question, we will be asking EVERYONE the same thing. It is to make sure we are safe, as well as protecting the owners or tenants living in the homes we are showing.


When the Nevada governor issued his order for all non-essential businesses to close for 30 days, he did include real estate as an essential business and it is exempt from that order (as of the writing of this post on 3/24/2020). However real estate agents have been asked to work remotely when possible, and have smart practices regarding showing properties to buyers. So your agent will most likely ask you to drive in your own car following them to the properties (instead of riding with them in their car), wait for them to go inside the house to turn on all of the lights before you go inside (to prevent multiple people from touching light switches), and will wipe down any surfaces that were touched before closing the house up and leaving.

Our team had decided to do all first-time meetings with buyers over the phone. This allows us to go over the buyers wants and needs, discuss options that will work best for their goals and set up a plan moving forward to reach those goals. We will also ask them to fill out a buyers worksheet. If the buyer is ready to set up showings on the Nevada side of the lake after the initial phone meeting, our team will be asking if the buyer(s) are or have been sick recently and what travel they have done over the past 30 days. If the buyer(s) have not been sick and have not traveled to one of the virus hot-spots recently, we will then schedule the showing date.


Things are a little trickier on the California side of the lake. Per the governors "stay at home" order, real estate is NOT considered an essential business and is NOT exempt from the business closure orders. The state association of REALTORS has asked for clarification from the governors office, and as of now (3/24/2020) we are being told we cannot show property, cannot meet with buyers or sellers, cannot hold open houses and must keep our offices closed.

We are allowed to work remotely and speak with clients over the phone, email and video conference. But we will not be able to take buyers out to show them houses. Our team is following these rules, and will continue to speak with buyers over the phone and then schedule any showings for after the 30 day "stay at home" period ends in late April.


So now we know how the different state rules affect buyers in California and Nevada around Lake Tahoe. But what about sellers? As with buyers, it depends on what state the sellers house is in.

One thing that is the same no matter what state the house is in, tenants rights during this crisis. For listings that are tenant occupied, the seller will need to get the permission from the buyers to verify they are willing to have people coming into the home. Normally tenants are just given 24hr notice and their lease agreements usually state they must allow an agent to show the property if it is listed by the owner. But since this is a public health issue, we want to protect the tenants and they have the right to protect themselves and their families. When contacting the tenant to schedule the showing, if the tenant says no then we will abide by their decision and not show the property.


In Nevada, since real estate is exempt from the 30 day business closure (again, as of 3/24/2020), agents can still meet with sellers for listing presentations and show sellers properties to potential buyers. The main changes that sellers will notice over the next 30 days or so is that the agent will NOT be doing an open house and the agent may ask the seller if anyone in the home has been sick recently.

If the occupant of the house is currently sick or has been recently, we will recommend taking the house off of the market for 1 month. Even if the sickness ends up not being related to the coronavirus, it is better to be safe than sorry. Plus it will be a big turn-off for buyers if they are walking through a home and see a bunch of cold/flu medicine or used tissues laying around.


Once again, things are a little different for properties on the California side. Since there are no showings being allowed by the business closure and "stay at home" orders (as of 3/24/2020), there won't be any buyers walking through your house till late April. The local association of REALTORS is working on creating a special "hold" status to move all listings until the restrictions open up and we can show property again. This would stop the days on market from adding up during a time when we can't even show the listing to potential buyers.

Like in Nevada, agents won't be doing open houses in California. Our team is reaching out to our sellers to go over the current situation and figure out the correct path forward that works for that specific client. For some sellers that may mean they take their property off the market in the "hold" status for the time being. Other sellers may decide to just keep their listing on the market and see what happens.

We are basically moving completely to working remotely from our homes. But we are still available via phone or email to talk to our seller clients and go over what options are best for their situation.


When things open back up, what's gonna happen? Are there going to be fewer listings on the market soon? Is it a buyers or sellers market right now? Good questions! Things are changing every day it seems. But our team is working on putting together some detailed information on how this will affect the market and how it relates to buyers and sellers.

We also wrote two buyer and seller specific articles that go over how this is affecting the market now and what we see for the near future.


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