Incline Village Real Estate and Community News

June 24, 2017

12 BILLION GALLONS OF WATER POUR INTO LAKE TAHOE AMID THIS WEEK'S HEAT WAVE

The process of the Sierra Nevada spring snow melt sped up this week as a heat wave brought triple-digit temperatures to parts of the Western United States.

A thawing snowpack that's massive after a brutal winter fed rivers and reservoirs with high-flowing runoff.

One place that saw a stunning impact from all the runoff is Lake Tahoe.

More than 12 billion gallons of water poured into the lake over the past week.

That's a staggering amount of water, and resulted in the lake level rising four inches since June 16.

That rise occurred while intense heat increased evaporation rates from the lake's surface. What's more, water managers have been releasing water from the lake into the Truckee River for the past 120 consecutive days to make room for snow-melt runoff.

"It's not typical to spill at all," says U.S. District Court Water Master Chad Blanchard. "It's only on the big years when you have to release water."

To further understand the significance of a four-inch gain in a week consider that during the spring snow melt season at the height of the California drought in 2015, the lake rose two and a half inches across several months.

With all this water, the lake is now only three inches from filling — and will likely reach full capacity in mid-July, Blanchard says.

If it fills it will be for the first time in 11 years, and the total amount it will have risen across the water-year between Oct. 1 and Sept. 30 will be record-breaking.

Straddling the California–Nevada border, Tahoe is the sixth largest lake in the United States, an outdoor playground for people around the world, and the main water source for the Reno-Sparks area in Nevada, as reported previously on SFGATE. The renowned ecological wonder is fed by 63 tributaries that drain 505 square miles known as the Lake Tahoe Watershed. With a vast surface area of 191 square miles, Tahoe requires an immense amount of water to fill, especially because roughly 100 billion gallons of water evaporates annually.

Lake Tahoe's natural rim is at 6,223 feet above sea level. The lake can store an additional 6.1 feet in its reservoir and climbs up to 6,229.1 feet at full capacity, its legal maximum limit. The only outlet, a dam at Tahoe City, regulates the upper 6.1 feet above the low water mark, and this winter water is being released into the Truckee River as billions of gallons flow into the lake.

When thunderstorm clouds moved over lake Tahoe on June 18, 2017, it created the perfect tableau for a gorgeous sunset.

As of Friday morning, the lake was at 6,228.84 feet, and Blanchard says they are releasing 800 cubic feet per second this week to prevent flooding. Releases in June have reached as high as 1,600 cubic feet per second.

The lake still needs some 30,000 acre feet of water to fill and a lot more than that will be dumping into Tahoe in coming months.

"All that high snow lasts so long," Blanchard says. "We're trying manage it to ensure that we fill, but we have to be able to adjust and compensate for variations in the actual runoff compared to the forecast. We could have filled it months ago, the inflow can be so much higher than your release capacity."

Posted in Community News
June 23, 2017

RENO IS STARTING TO LOOK MORE LIKE SILICON VALLEY

Reno Is Starting to Look More Like Silicon Valley

Run-the-robots jobs at Tesla’s Gigafactory and elsewhere are turning the city into a hipster haven.

 

“Are you with Tesla or Panasonic?” the waitress asks with a smile. It’s morning in Reno, and it’s natural to assume anyone eating breakfast among the rustic wood walls and Instagram-worthy succulents of the Whitney Peak Hotel would work at the mammoth Tesla Gigafactory, jointly run by the two tech companies. For transplants landing in Reno, the boutique hotel, formerly a casino, has become a common crash pad—albeit one wrapped by an outdoor rock-climbing wall.

Around 8:30 a.m., the men arrive in waves. The Panasonic workers from Japan head for one buffet, with rice, pork, and miso soup; the Tesla crowd favors eggs. Soon they’re gone, traveling by carpools and shuttles 20 miles east into the desert to the factory, where they’ll make lithium ion batteries to power Tesla’s electric cars.

 

Not long ago, Reno was a home foreclosure capital and fading casino town. “There was only one place to go, and that was up,” says Mayor Hillary Schieve. Unemployment peaked at almost 14 percent in 2011, when Governor Brian Sandoval signed a law aiming to diversify the state’s economy, recognizing that gambling alone can’t sustain a workforce.

The Reno area scored some early wins, such as a new, highly automated factory run by Ardagh Group SA that churns out 3.5 million cans of tomato paste and other food products a day. Then came the big get in 2014, when Tesla Inc. chose the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center to build what will be the largest factory in the world and promised to create 6,500 permanent jobs in exchange for $1.3 billion in tax incentives.

“What Tesla did was it took our success and made it huge by reinforcing the message,” says Mike Kazmierski, president of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada. More companies have expanded or moved to the area since. Reno’s unemployment rate is below 4 percent for the first time since 2006, and the fastest job growth in the region comes from manufacturing, employing almost 15,000 workers, up 15 percent in the past two years.

 

While 21st-century U.S. manufacturing depends on robots and automated systems, squeezing out many of the traditional middle-class jobs associated with industrial production, there’s still room for humans in new factories. They just need a lot more training to work alongside the robots, monitor their performance, code their brains, and maintain their systems.

The telltale signs of gentrification in Reno are creeping in. Thousands throng to the weekly Food Truck Fridays near downtown, dudes play cornhole while sipping cold brew coffee at a cafe by the river, and a local bartender can’t quite keep track of the number of craft breweries. Kristen Jaskulski opened Sol, a Polynesian kava bar, a few months ago and says the business is hitting its stride. The hipster scene helps young workers imagine moving to Reno, and those who can land these new kinds of factory jobs tend to have cash to spend once they arrive.

Sitting on a balcony overlooking the Truckee River, Jake Warner, the young chief executive officer of cloud-computing startup Cycle, says he considered moving his company and its handful of employees from Toledo, Ohio, to Austin, Seattle—or Reno. “Elon Musk is just my idol,” he says. “I bought Tesla on IPO day.” While Cycle doesn’t manufacture products, he figured Musk must have seen something special in Reno and that other techies would follow the hype.

Tesla may have put Reno on Warner’s radar, but it alone didn’t seal the deal. “Have you been to the Basement?” Warner asks, gesturing across the river to an old post office, where the bottom floor’s been converted to a food hall and marketplace. “That,” he says, “was the closer.” There, visitors can get a straight razor shave at the old-timey barbershop Beautiful Bearded Man or taste a bourbon truffle from Sugar Love Chocolates. A West Elm opened upstairs last fall, and a Patagonia store opened a block away in February.

 

For years, students at the University of Nevada at Reno mostly left town after graduation. But after the state’s tax deal with Tesla was announced, UNR’s engineering college booked a large auditorium for an information session with the electric-car maker. When 800 students showed up, “we had to open up another room in a hurry,” says Indira Chatterjee, associate dean of engineering. At Tesla’s request, the department created two academic minors, one in battery engineering and the other in manufacturing quality, she says, but the excitement over Gigafactory work outpaced the reality of the time it took before hiring would start. “In our view, it was not fast enough,” Chatterjee says. Her grads have slowly started getting jobs; on a recent tour of the Gigafactory, she ran into three alumni.

Construction on the Gigafactory began in 2014, and Tesla and Panasonic Corp. are finally staffing up in real numbers. In January, Panasonic told Nevada that it’ll hire as many as 3,000 workers this year. In a state with an $8.25 minimum wage, the entry-level position at Panasonic starts at $14 an hour, and the next level up is $17. A technician starts at about $23 an hour, Panasonic tells applicants on its Facebook page. Nevadans can enroll at Truckee Meadows Community College in a free training program on the Fanuc robots used at the factory.

While many residents may say good riddance to the Reno of $5.99 prime rib casino dinners, the change has come so quickly, it can be tough for the region to adapt. Some locals were outraged that Reno has been spending money to install Burning Man art around the city instead of fixing potholes or adding beds at homeless shelters. The art is “supercool, but people went crazy,” says Mayor Schieve.

 

Other industries are feeling a squeeze. “If there is a dark side, it’s that you can’t snap your fingers and create 20,000 light industrial workers overnight,” says Celeste Johnson, president of the local staffing firm Applied Cos. The boom, she says, has driven up wages at employers such as the warehouses for online retailers. But raises aren’t keeping up with costs for everyone, so some longtime residents are worried about being displaced. Median home prices are up 18 percent in the past two years, according to the Reno/Sparks Association of Realtors. This summer, new Tesla employees will live in UNR dorms, a temporary fix.

Until then, there’s always home back at the Whitney Peak Hotel. As the sun sets over the Sierra Nevada, shuttle buses cycle by in front of the hotel, and Panasonic workers scramble down. Some cram into the hotel elevator in search of their beds. Others fan out into the downtown streets.

Posted in Community News
June 21, 2017

INCLINE VILLAGE MARKET ACTION INDEX

Incline Village Market Action Index

Posted in Market Updates
June 19, 2017

LAKE TAHOE’S WATERS RUN DEEP

Whether you call it Big Blue, the Lake of the Sky — or, as Mark Twain so famously wrote in his masterpiece Roughing It, "the fairest picture the whole earth affords" — one thing is for certain: We all are here because of Lake Tahoe.

But just how much do you know about this magical body of water and the Lake Tahoe Basin as a whole?

For example, did you know that scientists have determined the basin was formed by geologic block faulting about 2 to 3 million years ago?

"A geologic block fault is a fracture in the Earth's crust causing blocks of land to move up or down," according to the U.S. Geological Survey. "Uplifted blocks created the Carson Range on the east and the Sierra Nevada on the west. Down-dropped blocks created the Lake Tahoe Basin in between."

Whether you call it Big Blue, the Lake of the Sky — or, as Mark Twain so famously wrote in his masterpiece Roughing It, "the fairest picture the whole earth affords" — one thing is for certain: We all are here because of Lake Tahoe.

But just how much do you know about this magical body of water and the Lake Tahoe Basin as a whole?

For example, did you know that scientists have determined the basin was formed by geologic block faulting about 2 to 3 million years ago?

"A geologic block fault is a fracture in the Earth's crust causing blocks of land to move up or down," according to the U.S. Geological Survey. "Uplifted blocks created the Carson Range on the east and the Sierra Nevada on the west. Down-dropped blocks created the Lake Tahoe Basin in between."

“Uplifted blocks created the Carson Range on the east and the Sierra Nevada on the west. Down-dropped blocks created the Lake Tahoe Basin in between.”U.S. Geological Survey

From there, a combination of snow, rain and streams filled the southern and lowest part of the basin, forming the ancestral Lake Tahoe, according to the USGS, and modern Lake Tahoe was eventually shaped and landscaped by scouring glaciers during the Ice Age.

So there you have it. A deep history, indeed.

With that in mind, here are Tahoe Magazine's Top 10 need-to-know numbers and fun facts about the greatest lake in the world, courtesy of staff research, historic reports and information published by the USGS.

1. A Long History: While the Lake Tahoe Basin had been occupied for centuries by members of the Washoe Tribe, the lake was "officially" discovered in 1844 by U.S. Gen. John C. Fremont.

2. What's In A Name: By 1853, the lake's official name was "Lake Bigler," in honor of California Gov. John Bigler. The U.S. Department of the Interior introduced the name Tahoe in 1862, and both names were used until 1945, when the lake received its official and final designation as Lake Tahoe.

3. Golden State Dominates: The Lake Tahoe Basin is divided by the Nevada-California state line at Stateline on the South Shore and Crystal Bay to the north. Casinos at both shores make it clear where the state lines exist. About 1/3 of the basin lies in Nevada, with the other 2/3 in California.

4. Now That's Deep: A maximum depth of 1,645 feet in Crystal Bay makes Tahoe the second deepest lake in the United States (behind Oregon's Crater Lake at 1,949 feet) and the third deepest in North America (behind Great Slave Lake in Canada's Northwest Territories at 2,015 feet).

5. High In The Sky: Lake Tahoe's natural rim is at 6,223 feet in elevation, and the maximum legal limit is 6,229.1 feet. Since 1987, levels have fluctuated from 6,220.26 feet during the prolonged drought in 1992, to 6,229.39 feet during the flood of January 1997.

6. Record-Setting: As of late April 2017, Lake Tahoe's water level hovered at 6,228 feet, the highest its been in years thanks to a record-setting 2016-17 winter in terms of snowfall. Water officials predict levels will breach the 6,299.1-foot legal limit by July 2017.

7. Perfect Peaks: About 78 percent of the basin is at altitudes from about 6,500 feet to greater than 10,000 feet. At 10,881 feet, Freel Peak is the tallest peak in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Jobs Sister is just behind at 10,823 feet, followed by Mt. Rose (10,778 feet) in third place.

8. A Big Footprint: The Lake Tahoe Basin is 506 square miles: The surface area of the lake is 192 square miles, and the watershed area is 314 square miles. To put it another way — Tahoe's 192-square-mile surface area equates to 122,880 acres.

9. Cold Waters: Tahoe's water temperature generally cools to 40-50 degrees in February and March and warms to 65-70 degrees in August and September. Below a depth of 600-700 feet, the temperature remains a constant 39 degrees. And nope, the lake does not freeze.

10. Taking Up Space: The length of Lake Tahoe is roughly 21 miles (north to south), and its width is 11.9 miles (east to west). The floor of the Lake Tahoe Basin is at an elevation of about 4,580 feet, which is lower than the surface of the Carson Valley to the east.

.”U.S. Geological Survey

From there, a combination of snow, rain and streams filled the southern and lowest part of the basin, forming the ancestral Lake Tahoe, according to the USGS, and modern Lake Tahoe was eventually shaped and landscaped by scouring glaciers during the Ice Age.

So there you have it. A deep history, indeed.

With that in mind, here are Tahoe Magazine's Top 10 need-to-know numbers and fun facts about the greatest lake in the world, courtesy of staff research, historic reports and information published by the USGS.

1. A Long History: While the Lake Tahoe Basin had been occupied for centuries by members of the Washoe Tribe, the lake was "officially" discovered in 1844 by U.S. Gen. John C. Fremont.

2. What's In A Name: By 1853, the lake's official name was "Lake Bigler," in honor of California Gov. John Bigler. The U.S. Department of the Interior introduced the name Tahoe in 1862, and both names were used until 1945, when the lake received its official and final designation as Lake Tahoe.

3. Golden State Dominates: The Lake Tahoe Basin is divided by the Nevada-California state line at Stateline on the South Shore and Crystal Bay to the north. Casinos at both shores make it clear where the state lines exist. About 1/3 of the basin lies in Nevada, with the other 2/3 in California.

4. Now That's Deep: A maximum depth of 1,645 feet in Crystal Bay makes Tahoe the second deepest lake in the United States (behind Oregon's Crater Lake at 1,949 feet) and the third deepest in North America (behind Great Slave Lake in Canada's Northwest Territories at 2,015 feet).

5. High In The Sky: Lake Tahoe's natural rim is at 6,223 feet in elevation, and the maximum legal limit is 6,229.1 feet. Since 1987, levels have fluctuated from 6,220.26 feet during the prolonged drought in 1992, to 6,229.39 feet during the flood of January 1997.

6. Record-Setting: As of late April 2017, Lake Tahoe's water level hovered at 6,228 feet, the highest its been in years thanks to a record-setting 2016-17 winter in terms of snowfall. Water officials predict levels will breach the 6,299.1-foot legal limit by July 2017.

7. Perfect Peaks: About 78 percent of the basin is at altitudes from about 6,500 feet to greater than 10,000 feet. At 10,881 feet, Freel Peak is the tallest peak in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Jobs Sister is just behind at 10,823 feet, followed by Mt. Rose (10,778 feet) in third place.

8. A Big Footprint: The Lake Tahoe Basin is 506 square miles: The surface area of the lake is 192 square miles, and the watershed area is 314 square miles. To put it another way — Tahoe's 192-square-mile surface area equates to 122,880 acres.

9. Cold Waters: Tahoe's water temperature generally cools to 40-50 degrees in February and March and warms to 65-70 degrees in August and September. Below a depth of 600-700 feet, the temperature remains a constant 39 degrees. And nope, the lake does not freeze.

10. Taking Up Space: The length of Lake Tahoe is roughly 21 miles (north to south), and its width is 11.9 miles (east to west). The floor of the Lake Tahoe Basin is at an elevation of about 4,580 feet, which is lower than the surface of the Carson Valley to the east.

Posted in Community News
June 19, 2017

REAL ESTATE AND MORTGAGE RATES - LAST WEEK IN REVIEW AND FORECAST FOR THIS WEEK

Despite gains in April, consumers slowed down their purchases in May.

Retail Sales in May saw the biggest decline since January 2016, the Commerce Department reported. Retail Sales were down 0.3 percent from April, in contrast to the 0.1 percent increase expected. Sales for motor vehicles and discretionary spending both fell. But, on a positive note, Retail Sales are up nearly 4 percent from a year ago.

Housing Starts fell 5.5 percent in May from April to an annual rate of 1.092 million units, below expectations per the Commerce Department. It was the lowest rate since September 2016 and the third straight month of declines. Single-family starts, which account for the biggest share of the residential housing market, fell to the lowest level in eight months. Builders cited a lack of skilled workers and a rise in building materials for the decline. Housing Starts are also down 2.4 percent from May 2016. Building Permits, a sign of future construction, fell 5 percent from April to May.

Consumer inflation remained tame in May. Year over year, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) fell to 1.9 percent after hitting 2.7 percent four months ago. Wholesale inflation as measured by the Producer Price Index was unchanged in May due to lower energy costs.

The Federal Reserve raised its benchmark Fed Funds Rate by a quarter percent after its June meeting, as forecasted, bringing the new target range to between 1.0 and 1.25 percent. This is the rate at which banks lend money to each other overnight and it does not directly impact long-term rates like home loan rates.

Despite recent volatility in the Bond market, home loan rates remain near historic lows.

If you or someone you know is in the market for a home, please contact me today. I'd be happy to answer any questions

Forecast for the Week

April Existing and New Home Sales data disappointed. We'll find out if May's data heated up.

Existing Home Sales will be shared on Wednesday followed by New Home Sales on Friday.

As usual, weekly Initial Jobless Claims will be released on Thursday.

Remember: Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of Stocks and into Bonds, helping Bonds and home loan rates improve. In contrast, strong economic news normally has the opposite result. The chart below shows Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), which are the type of Bond on which home loan rates are based.

When you see these Bond prices moving higher, it means home loan rates are improving. When Bond prices are moving lower, home loan rates are getting worse.

To go one step further, a red "candle" means that MBS worsened during the day, while a green "candle" means MBS improved during the day. Depending on how dramatic the changes are on any given day, this can cause rate changes throughout the day, as well as on the rate sheets we start with each morning.

As you can see in the chart below, the Mortgage Bond market saw volatility this past week. Home loan rates remain near historic lows.

Chart: Fannie Mae 3.5% Mortgage Bond (Friday Jun 16, 2017)

Posted in Real Estate News
June 12, 2017

REAL ESTATE AND MORTGAGE RATES - LAST WEEK IN REVIEW AND FORECAST FOR THIS WEEK

Despite big headline events at home and abroad this week, Stock and Bond markets were relatively quiet.

Former FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. And residents of the United Kingdom went to the polls in a snap general election as the U.K. unravels its relationship with the European Union. These were big events that didn't really move markets.

Perhaps this signals a calm before the storm heading into the June 13-14 Federal Open Market Committee meeting where expectations are that the Fed will raise its benchmark Fed Funds Rate another 0.25 percent to a range of 1.0 to 1.25 percent. This is the rate banks lend to one another overnight, and it does not directly impact long-term rates like home loan rates.

In housing news, home prices continued to surge in April. Data analytics firm CoreLogic reported that home prices, including distressed sales, rose 6.9 percent from April 2016 to April 2017. Month over month, prices were up 1.6 percent from March to April. Looking ahead, CoreLogic sees a 5.1 percent gain from April 2017 to April 2018. Low home loan rates and limited inventory have caused "a bidding frenzy" in some metro markets as "multiple contracts are placed on a single home," CoreLogic said.

At this time, home loan rates remain near seven-month lows.

If you or someone you know is in the market for a home or has any questions about home loan rates, please contact me today. I'd be happy to help.

Forecast for the Week

Investors will have a lot to unpack in the next week. The Fed's monetary policy statement will be released following the Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Data releases will cover a broad spectrum of the U.S. economy.

Inflation numbers from the Producer Price Index and Consumer Price Index will be released on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

Retail Sales along with the Fed's monetary policy statement will be shared Wednesday.

Regional manufacturing data will be released Thursday in the Philadelphia Fed Index and Empire State Index.

As usual, weekly Initial Jobless Claims also will be available Thursday.

On Friday, Housing Starts, Building Permits and the Consumer Sentiment Index will be reported.

Remember: Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of Stocks and into Bonds, helping Bonds and home loan rates improve. In contrast, strong economic news normally has the opposite result. The chart below shows Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), which are the type of Bond on which home loan rates are based.

When you see these Bond prices moving higher, it means home loan rates are improving. When Bond prices are moving lower, home loan rates are getting worse.

To go one step further, a red "candle" means that MBS worsened during the day, while a green "candle" means MBS improved during the day. Depending on how dramatic the changes are on any given day, this can cause rate changes throughout the day, as well as on the rate sheets we start with each morning.

As you can see in the chart below, Mortgage Bonds experienced little movement this week. Home loan rates remain near historic lows.

Chart: Fannie Mae 3.5% Mortgage Bond (Friday Jun 09, 2017)

Posted in Real Estate News
June 5, 2017

REAL ESTATE AND MORTGAGE RATES - LAST WEEK IN REVIEW AND FORECAST FOR THIS WEEK

Many more people found jobs in May, although job growth came in below expectations. Unemployment hit a 16-year low.

The Labor Department reported that job growth rose by 138,000 in May, below the 185,000 expected. March and April numbers were revised lower by 66,000. On a more positive note, the Unemployment Rate fell to a 16-year low of 4.3 percent and is at a new post-crisis low. Total unemployment, or the U6 number, fell to 8.4 percent, down from 9.4 percent last year. Rounding out the report, average hourly earnings rose 0.2 percent versus the 0.3 percent expected and were up 2.5 percent from May 2016.

Consumer inflation ticked up slightly from March to April. Core Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE), which excludes food and energy, was up 0.2 percent versus the 0.1 percent expected. Year over year, April Core PCE was down 1.5 percent from 1.6 percent.

Home price gains remain strong. The March S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index rose 5.9 percent year over year from March 2016, matching the February reading. Gains are the biggest since July 2014. From February to March, prices were up 0.9 percent.

Although the Dow crushed its record-breaking high recently, home loan rates have been hovering near six-month lows.

If you or someone you know has any questions , please contact me today. I'd be happy to help.

Forecast for the Week

Investors will need to rely on other news to guide investment decisions in a week of few economic reports.

Economic data kicks off on Monday with the release of first quarter Productivity and the ISM Services Index.

The only other economic report will be Thursday's weekly Initial Jobless Claims.

Remember: Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of Stocks and into Bonds, helping Bonds and home loan rates improve. In contrast, strong economic news normally has the opposite result. The chart below shows Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), which are the type of Bond on which home loan rates are based.

When you see these Bond prices moving higher, it means home loan rates are improving. When Bond prices are moving lower, home loan rates are getting worse.

To go one step further, a red "candle" means that MBS worsened during the day, while a green "candle" means MBS improved during the day. Depending on how dramatic the changes are on any given day, this can cause rate changes throughout the day, as well as on the rate sheets we start with each morning.

As you can see in the chart below, Mortgage Bonds hit six-month highs recently. Home loan rates remain near historic lows.

Chart: Fannie Mae 3.5% Mortgage Bond (Friday Jun 02, 2017)

Posted in Real Estate News
June 2, 2017

FAT SNOWPACK MEANS SKINNY BEACHES

Winter may be over, but the heavy snowpack will mean narrower beaches, delayed access to high-elevation hiking and biking trails, and potential flooding. At the end of March, California Department of Water Resources staff found the equivalent of 45.8 inches of water, 164 percent of the historical average, in the statewide snowpack. “We still have a very substantial snowpack, particularly in the higher elevations in the central and southern Sierra,” said Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program. Some areas around Lake Tahoe broke alltime snow-depth records, with Heavenly Mountain Resort reporting 659 inches of snow. A Natural Resources Conservation Service SNOTEL site at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe in Nevada recorded 194 inches of snow containing the equivalent of 83.7 inches of water in early April. Water content in the snow was 227 percent of the median, an all-time April 1 record. “In the Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Carson and Walker basins, the 2017 snowpack ranks among the top handful of years, especially, at sites above 8,000 feet elevation,” the report said. Changes to Lake Tahoe are apparent. Stretches of beach widened by five years of drought were narrowed, and streams were swollen to at or above their banks. Piers and boat ramps were inundated again. Areas with a rocky shoreline may be inaccessible, the U.S. Forest Service said. “In marshes and wetlands, higher water is pushing the waterfowl nesting habitat toward the edges, and therefore in closer contact with recreationists,” said Forest Service Public Affairs Specialist Lisa Herron. “Please avoid these areas and do not allow dogs to enter the marshes or wetlands. This will allow waterfowl to nest without disruption.” The area between the natural rim of Lake Tahoe, at 6,223 feet above sea level, and the maximum legal limit of 6,229.1 feet of elevation acts as a reservoir, with outflows at the Tahoe City Dam controlled by the U.S. District Court Water Master in Reno. The office began spilling water from the dam in February. In April 2016, the lake level hovered around the natural rim. April 2017 saw the biggest rise in water levels in 118 years of record keeping, said Water Master Chad Blanchard. Sierra snowmelt usually peaks in late The bike path outside Tahoe City sits beneath the Truckee River this spring. Officials warn visitors that their favorite beaches may be inaccessible this summer due to the higher water levels. Summer clarity declines while winter shows big improvement Lake Tahoe clarity levels in 2016 increased in winter and decreased in summer, according to annual readings taken by the University of California, Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC). Readings for summer are attributed to the continuing effects of climate change, researchers at U.C. Davis said. The summer declines were so large that they outweighed the substantially improved winter clarity, which was the best since 2012. TERC and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency released the clarity measurement for Lake Tahoe for 2016 in May. The data show the average annual clarity level for 2016 at 69.2 feet, which is a 3.9-foot decrease from the previous year but still more than 5 feet greater than the lowest recorded average of 64.1 feet in 1997. The 2016 clarity level is the average of 30 individual readings taken from January through December 2016. The highest value recorded in 2016 was an astounding 95.1 feet on Jan. 25, and the lowest was 44.3 feet on June 7. Despite 2016’s summer decline, the data record indicates that Lake Tahoe’s long-term trend of clarity decline ended about 15 years ago. Since then, clarity has hovered around a value of 71 feet but with sizable interannual and seasonal variability. In addition, Lake Tahoe met its first five-year target for clarity restoration. In 2011, the Regional Environmental Protection Agency administrator and the governors of California and Nevada signed a commitment to restore the historic clarity of Lake Tahoe over the next 65 years. They also established interim targets to assess our progress toward the goal, 71 feet of clarity by 2016 and 78 feet of clarity by 2026. The five-year annual average clarity increased to 73 feet in 2016, a 5-foot improvement since 2011 and 2 feet better than the target established by the two states for 2016. Hitting this first milestone is an historic accomplishment. May or early June, but peak flows may come later this year. Temperatures and additional precipitation help determine the runoff peak, and heat waves and rains could increase the risk of flooding as the snow melts. “Rivers and streams will be running cold, fast, and high this year,” Herron said. “Avoid areas that are already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast, and don’t try to cross swift-moving rivers and streams.” Backcountry users should be prepared for snow well into the summer. The Forest Service encourages people to stay on designated roads and trails and avoid wet roads and trails to minimize damage. Will Tahoe remain full for several years or is this year’s high level temporary? “We’ll just have to wait and see,” Blanchard said. The large snow year eased drought restrictions in California, but conservation remains important.

Posted in Community News
May 31, 2017

TAHOE AIRBNB USE UP 50 PERCENT OVER LAST SKI SEASON

Ski resorts weren't the only ones to profit from this year's snowfall totals.

Lake Tahoe-area Airbnb hosts earned $32 million this past ski season, a 50 percent increase from last year, according to a lake-wide report issued by the company on May 3.

But it's not just earnings that went up. Total Airbnb guests in Lake Tahoe jumped 48 percent over last ski season, amounting to 185,000 visitors according to the report. The bulk of the trips made were in December, followed closely by January and February.

"This winter with the epic snow, we were fully booked," said Airbnb host Biren Talati. "We were booked so much, it kind of affected the ability for us to come up.

Talati is a Bay Area resident, who said he's been traveling to Lake Tahoe for years. He purchased a property in Incline Village in December 2015, and credits Airbnb with enabling him to do so.

"With the ability to do Airbnb, it made it affordable for my family to purchase," he said.

Even with this year's record-breaking precipitation that caused road closures and power outages throughout the region, Talati said he has been experiencing high demand for his rental.

"The Bay Area is the most common (visitor origin), but we get people from all over," he said. "It's an international destination."

This past ski season, more than 50 percent of Airbnb visitors in Lake Tahoe were from Bay Area cities, according to the report. Visitors from Los Angeles made up 2.6 percent of Airbnb stays, and travelers from Sacramento made up 2 percent. About 33 percent of visits were during weekdays.

"In a year like this where there was a lot of excitement about the snow, there was definitely a lot of interest and inquiries," said Airbnb host Melanie Meharchand. "I saw an interest in people staying more than just the weekend, so that's the way that I perceived there being a greater demand this year."

Meharchand is a Bay Area resident, who has owned a home near Donner Lake for about five years. She said she and her family used to come up every weekend, but as her kids grew older and had more activities to attend, the family wasn't able to make the drive as frequently. She said they began renting their home on Airbnb about a year and a half ago, and prior to that had done so on occasion on their own.

"The first fear you have is that people are going to trash your stuff, but after that first time I realized it was much like when my friends used the place, except the Airbnb people paid me," she said.

Meharchand said that while getting paid was nice, and helped them make improvements to the house that they otherwise would not have been able to afford, she also just didn't want the home to sit unused.

"It was less about the mortgage for me and more about the thought that I had this resource to use," she said. That kind of appeals to me — the idea that other families could use it (the home) too."

Of the $32 million total earned by Airbnb hosts in Lake Tahoe this ski season, $7.9 million of that went to hosts in Truckee, which received 37,200 guests using Airbnb alone in the last year.

Posted in Community News
May 16, 2017

REAL ESTATE AND MORTGAGE RATES - LAST WEEK IN REVIEW AND FORECAST FOR THIS WEEK

After two sluggish months of sales, consumers opened their pocketbooks in April.

Consumers ramped up their spending at auto dealers, hardware stores and e-commerce outlets. April Retail Sales rose 0.4 percent from the 0.1 percent in March, which was revised up from -0.3 percent. Increased consumer spending could boost economic growth in the second quarter, as it makes up two-thirds of the nation's economic activity.

There was important news on inflation, as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was up 0.2 percent in April, in line with estimates. The year-over-year number declined to 2.2 percent from 2.4 percent in March, which was Bond-friendly news. When stripping out volatile food and energy numbers, the Core CPI saw a 0.1 percent gain in April, just below expectations. Year-over-year Core CPI also slipped to 1.9 percent from the +2 percent that has been the norm over the past 12 months, which was more good news for Bonds.

Meanwhile, wholesale inflation, as measured by the Producer Price Index (PPI), jumped 0.5 percent in March, above the 0.2 percent expected. Year-over-year, PPI surged 2.5 percent, the largest increase since moving 2.8 percent for the 12-month period ending February 2012.

Inflation is an important measure to watch because inflationary pressures can reduce the value of fixed investments, like Mortgage Bonds, and the home loan rates tied to them.

At this time, home loan rates remain attractive and near historic lows.

If you or someone you know is in the market for a new home or a home refinance, please contact me. I'd be happy to answer any questions about home loan rates and products.

Forecast for the Week

Manufacturing and housing data are sprinkled throughout what may be a less volatile week in the markets.

Regional manufacturing data comes via the Empire State Index on Monday and the Philadelphia Fed Index on Thursday.

Housing Starts and Building Permits will be delivered on Tuesday.

As usual, weekly Initial Jobless Claims also will be reported on Thursday.

Remember: Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of Stocks and into Bonds, helping Bonds and home loan rates improve. In contrast, strong economic news normally has the opposite result. The chart below shows Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), which are the type of Bond on which home loan rates are based.

When you see these Bond prices moving higher, it means home loan rates are improving. When Bond prices are moving lower, home loan rates are getting worse.

To go one step further, a red "candle" means that MBS worsened during the day, while a green "candle" means MBS improved during the day. Depending on how dramatic the changes are on any given day, this can cause rate changes throughout the day, as well as on the rate sheets we start with each morning.

As you can see in the chart below, Mortgage Bonds reacted to bond-friendly inflation news, regaining some lost ground. Home loan rates remain attractive and near historic lows.

Chart: Fannie Mae 3.5% Mortgage Bond (Friday May 12, 2017)

Posted in Real Estate News