Tahoe Real Estate Earns National Recognition

| June 23, 2014 | 0 Comments

Written by Michael Kilburg


Backyard of the HGTV Dream Home 2014, a vacation getaway located in Truckee, minutes away from Lake Tahoe, photo courtesy Scripps Networks, LLC

Say what you will about Michael Corleone’s faults, at least The Godfather gangster had good taste.

Corleone chose Lake Tahoe’s iconic Fleur du Lac as one of the fictional crime family’s homes. Turns out, plenty of others would do the same.

In January, the approximately 4,100 square foot second unit of Homewood’s Fleur du Lac Estates was named the U.S. “House of the Year” by readers of the Wall Street Journal. It’s just some of the recent national praise heaped upon Lake Tahoe and Truckee real estate.

From Home and Garden TV Dream Homes to being described as having “possibly the best” private community in the country by Forbes magazine, the national and international profile of Lake Tahoe’s high-end real estate has increased over the past several years, says Kane Schaller, president of the Tahoe Sierra Board of Realtors. Buyers took notice.

“A lot of these national brands that people are familiar with, like the Wall Street Journal, like HGTV, it creates a vehicle for people to find new places,” Schaller says. “Clearly, not every place is for every person, but people love this area, love what it offers, love The Lake. And, if a lot of people are exposed to it as an option, then we’ll get our share of buyers who come up here.”

Wall Street Journal’s U.S. “House of the Year” poll included 51 homes across the country that were on the market at some point in 2013. Readers cast nearly 900,000 votes during the contest. The Fleur du Lac condominium, one of 22 units on the former estate of ship-magnate Henry J. Kaiser, received 88,957 of the ballots.

An almost seven-foot-tall, double-sided fireplace, a state-of-the-art multi-zone sound system, hydronic heating and the addition of several lake views were among  the extensive changes made to the West Shore property during a recent $3.5 million renovation.

“If that isn’t enough, it’s easily the best, if not one of the two best, locations in the complex, being  right on The Lake,” says Bill Murphy, a Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty real estate agent and the property listing agent. “If you come out of the front door at a gallop you won’t stop in time before you’re in the water.”

The condominium is on the market for $6.5 million, and is not alone in receiving accolades from national publications. Five Tahoe and Truckee homes made it into the “House of the Year” poll, which was drawn from weekly winners. A $4.25 million, 4,522 square foot Glenbrook home took fifth place in the voting.

In October, Forbes magazine called Martis Camp “possibly the best four-season private community in the U.S.”

“There are tons of private residential communities and country clubs that have standout golf courses. There are far fewer that offer on-site skiing, especially at real, full-sized mountains,” wrote Forbes contributor Larry Olmsted. “But there are very, very few that offer both, and California’s Martis Camp is one. That alone makes it a standout, but if big-time skiing and big-time golf are not enough, Martis Camp residents enjoy easy access to one of the world’s most beautiful and beloved lakes along with an amazing slew of amenities matched by few full-service five-star resorts, let alone other private communities.”

HGTV selected the nearby Schaffer’s Mill as the site of its 18th annual Dream Home contest, where a home is built and given away to a reader. HGTV awarded the home to Boise, Idaho, resident Laura Martin in late March after drawing her name at random in February. The 3,200 square foot home built for the contest is valued at just under $2 million. Tanamera Custom Homes of Reno built the home.

House planner and HGTV producer Jack Thomasson selected Truckee’s Ward-Young Architecture for the project after spotting the Highlands Fire Station near the Ritz-Carlton on a scouting trip.

The “new modern architecture” style of the Dream Home is defined by its gabled design, natural stone, cedar siding, flow between indoor and outdoor elements and exposed steel construction.

Incorporating the surrounding site was a key element in the design of the home, says architect David Bourke.

“It was a concept that sort of broke the house into two parts, one being the main living area part—the kitchen/dining/living space—and then the other was basically the bedroom wing that also included the garage and what became the media room upstairs,” Bourke says. “And then those two parts were pulled apart, connected by an entry, so that they created this outdoor living space. If you walk into the entry, it basically opens right out to this outdoor living space that’s bound on three sides and that looks out toward the golf course and out toward the Carson Range.”

In addition to the outstanding views, the home’s windows provide the natural light that was another focus of the “new mountain” design, says the architect.

“It gives a feeling to the space that you don’t get otherwise,” Bourke says. “If you can have that glow, it just makes a place comfortable to be in.”

Building homes at Lake Tahoe provides ample opportunity for unique concepts, from the traditional to the experimental, Bourke says. With the popularity of the HGTV contest, he may find himself incorporating some of the Truckee Dream Home elements into future designs.

“We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback with people calling from all over the country saying, ‘Gosh, I really like this house, can we do something similar?’” Bourke says.

The recognition extends into the market, as well, says Schaller.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for us,” he says. “We’ve had a lot of things that have put us on the map in the past couple of years.”

In an area that offers an unbeatable lifestyle and has more than a handful of dream homes, Bourke says it wasn’t a shock for Tahoe and Truckee to be in the national spotlight.

“Seems like a natural to me,” he says. “It doesn’t really surprise me at all.”


Category: Architecture, Home & Garden, Home Design, Mountain Home Awards, Real Estate & Development

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