Tips on Buying an Income-Producing Vacation Home

Are you thinking of buying a vacation home in Lake Tahoe?  Here are a few of the questions and answers I discuss with my buyers to help them make an informed and excellent decision.

1) What time of year do you want to enjoy the property, spring, summer, winter and/or fall?

If you are looking for income to offset some of the cost, summer users should focus their search in a winter lovers’ area. Properties in these areas will rent well in the ski season creating income while you’re not there. On the South Shore of Lake Tahoe winter loving areas are those near the Heavenly base lodges, so the Ski Run Blvd. area in California and upper Kingsbury in Nevada. The summer lovers’ areas are the Tahoe Keys (yoga or cocktails while floating on your paddle board?), Tahoe Island and now Al Tahoe with the great development at Commons Beach.

Note:  South Lake Tahoe is a small place summer and winter ares often overlap. If you choose a home or condo in either neighborhood you are never far from anything, beaches or mountains.

2)How many bedrooms and bathrooms would your ideal property have?

Vacation rental homes tend to rent on the amount of people that the home can sleep. It’s all about the numbers! The City of South Lake Tahoe requires a few things from its vacation homeowners. Check out the city website for the specifics:   

Note: When you are starting your search keep in mind that for sleeping options, the city allows two per room plus two.  Example: A three bedroom home can sleep eight people legally.

3: When do you want to visit your Tahoe property?

Winter renters tend to visit on weekends and also for longer stays during the winter holiday periods including Christmas/ New Years, MLK in January then Presidents’ week in February. Winter clients tend to be Bay area or Sacramento residents who work Monday through Friday and see the weekend as the best time for a ski trip to Tahoe. Summer clients tend to be families and/or larger groups renting for a week or longer.

3)What is you ideal setting?

This is a challenge because some of the best settings aren’t always the best renting areas. Some remote locations in Tahoe Paradise are good winter rentals since they are located near Kirkwood, Sierra-at-Tahoe, and/or Desolation Wilderness.

If you are interested in a forest setting or the more remote and quiet areas, these homes tend to rent less in the winter months since they are not as close to Heavenly.

4) What about the direction the home faces?

How much sun the home and your driveway receive can be very important. In an average winter, Tahoe can receive a lot of snow, (we’re thinking 400′ – 500′, but are having a hard time finding the stats, and since Jason’s editor is a former snow reporter, she is annoyed! Great future post, stay tuned.) Keeping the driveway clear for you and your guest can be a challenge. We recommend a snow removal service. Alpine Smith is a service we’ve worked with and recommend. Keep in mind a large driveway with good sun throughout the day would be a huge plus in a vacation home, and great sun exposure for the house. Not to take advantage of a tragedy, but the newly built homes in the Angora burn area have great views and sun exposure!

5) What about parking?

Lots of parking is a very good thing!  If your home sleeps a large number of people, consider your renters’ parking options especially in the winter. Each year beginning  October 15, when snow removal conditions exist, parking is illegal on the streets of South Lake Tahoe.

6. What amenity should my house have?

A hot tub! Nothing is better after a day of skiing than sitting in a hot tub (preferably outdoors) reliving your hero moments from the ski day.

These are just a few guidelines to help you start thinking about what you want in your Lake Tahoe vacation rental property. I’m happy to chat more about it, give me a call at 530-545-2902.