With another year into the history books, what can we learn from the real estate sales that occurred in 2010? With a total of 858 single family homes reported sold, an increase of 8% over 2009, the median price of $465,000 unfortunately reflected a drop of 9% from 2009, bringing the total decrease in median price since the high in 2006 to 32%. The 617 single family homes currently on the market reflect approximately a 9-month inventory.

In looking at the Tahoe Donner subdivision in Truckee, which comprises the largest percentage of the sales in the overall area, the statistics are similar. A total of 222 single family homes sold in the subdivision (5 less than in 2009), at a median price of $520,000, a decrease of 8% from 2009, and a total decrease of 32% over that subdivision’s high of $765,000 in 2005. The 86 homes currently on the market within Tahoe Donner is only a 4.6 month inventory.

The sale of distressed properties increased in 2010, no surprise. Of the 858 homes sold, 151 were REO (investor owned) and 108 were Short Sales, an increase of 22% over the number of REO/Short Sales sold in 2009. We anticipate this distressed property activity to continue in 2011, as homeowners and their real estate agents/representatives continue to negotiate short sales where loan modifications/refinances are not an option, and lending institutions continue to sell their inventory of homes taken back in foreclosure.

A bright light for Buyers, and Sellers too, for that matter: Frank Nothaft, chief economist for Freddie Mac, says he expects long-term mortgage rates to hold below the 5% threshold throughout 2011, as key macroeconomic drivers provide a backdrop that supports a continued, albeit gradual, housing recovery. Turning to home prices, Nothaft says markets that have large inventories of for-sale homes and REO properties will continue to see home-value weakness in 2011, but he believes price indexes for the U.S. as a whole are close to bottoming out.

In this mountain paradise we love to call home, that’s great news. We look forward to another successful year, helping buyers and sellers realize their dreams!