Snow may be falling this week at Lake Tahoe, but high-end property values along the Nevada shoreline seem to be doing just the opposite.
In a blockbuster sale announced Friday, superstar software entrepreneur David Duffield reportedly paid a whopping $25.5 million for the Osprey Estate in Incline Village, an eight-acre lakefront Shangri-La not to be confused with the other eight-acre lakefront Shangri-La he purchased nearby for $27.6 million in 1999.
The Osprey sale, according to listing agent Kerry Donovan of Chase International, constitutes the priciest residential deal that Tahoe has seen since 2008. And real estate agents say it's a clear sign of a housing boom building among deep-pocketed homebuyers seeking the relatively safe harbor of a state with no individual or corporate income tax.
"We've got a lot of buyers up here who've been sitting on the sidelines for six years now and they're tired of waiting and think it's time to move," said Donovan, who handled the Osprey sale but would not confirm Duffield was the buyer; the sale was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, which cited public records.
"A lot of factors have bubbled up to drive this," she said, "including the passage of California's Proposition 30 in November," which raises personal income-tax rates for Californians making more than $250,000 a year and triggers a four-year hike in the state's sales tax starting Jan. 1. Real estate agents say Silicon Valley's current tech boom is also contributing to the trend, minting overnight millionaires with money to burn on tony Lake Tahoe addresses.
Donovan says that while non-lakefront housing prices around Tahoe remain beaten down by the recession, the limited inventory of waterside properties has helped trigger multimillion-dollar deals.
"The lakefront has not seen a lot of price deterioration in recent years because sellers haven't been pressed to sell," she said. "But there are now a handful of sales under contract, not quite at the $20 million level but getting close."
Duffield, who co-founded Pleasanton-based PeopleSoft and Workday, reportedly purchased the Osprey property through Nevada Pacific Development, where he serves as president. According to news reports, the estate once was home to inventor Jerome Lemelson, whose more than 600 patents made him one of the nation's most prolific inventors before his death in 1997. The property enjoys nearly 700 feet of prime lake frontage, including a private beach and pier. The main house is 7,100 square feet in size, with an adjacent guesthouse and conference center.
According to public records, the property's seller was the Dorothy Lemelson Qualified Trust, named after Lemelson's widow.
Other realty agents in and around Incline Village say the local real estate market has been particularly frisky of late, with the number of available homes practically decreasing by the day and the once reliable reductions in sales prices becoming a thing of the past. Century 21 McGregor Realty's Joanna Rice said Friday that "most of the brokers up here are busier now than they've been in the past two or three years.
"I've seen an incredible increase in sales just since midsummer," said Rice, "and I've just had my best fourth quarter ever. Two weeks ago, out of the clear blue sky, I sold two of my listings, one of which I'd had for years; and both were all-cash offers."
Rice said that "while prices on properties under $1 million have remained steady so far, that will soon change as the supply of homes continues to shrink."
Contact Patrick May at 408-920-5689; follow him at Twitter.com/patmaymerc.
Eight acres on two adjoining parcels
Main residence, approximately 7,100 square feet
12 bathrooms (9 full, 3 half)
White sycamore hardwood flooring, European and Indiana limestone, and V'Soske rugs accentuate the interior spaces.
Master wing with two offices, sun room, living room with fireplace, additional bedroom
Great room with cathedral ceiling and fireplace
Garage with parking for six vehicles
Source: Chase International