Beware of falling Tahoe Pine Cones

Beware of falling Tahoe Pine Cones!

A Fall day on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe, California

A Fall day on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe, California

This past fall weekend in Tahoe City we finally got around to doing some of those last minute projects we had put off all summer.  Our snow free days are numbered right now, so we got out our to-do list and decided we needed to get the exterior of the old garage and pump house (we have a water well on our property) painted.

While we were working, Craig, my better half, told me to not stand under the pine trees – beware of falling Tahoe pine cones. It was a good reminder.  I know better than to be under one of the pine trees in our yard right now, they are loaded with pine cones  and the squirrels are doing a great job of dropping them.

At this time of year, many visitors and Tahoe homeowners will be up in our area hunting for pine cones, taking a walk, riding their bike, or just taking it easy.  His concern for my safety reminded me, not every visitor, or buyer gets the benefit of our local Tahoe knowledge so here are a few tips if you’ll be up in our area to make your trip more enjoyable.

1.)  Pine Sap Removal – In Tahoe you don’t have to be picking up pine cones to get sap on yourself.  So remember if you get pine sap on your hands, clothes, or your pet gets it on themselves, use olive oil (any cooking oil will do), or regular mayonnaise (not reduced fat).  The oil/mayo will break down the sap on you, your clothes, and on your pet.  Just rub the oil/mayo onto the spot and it will break-down and allow you to clean it up.   This method is a little more work, but its chemical free!  Helpful hint.   Using a good, rich lotion on your hands and exposed skin before you go outside will make taking off any sap that much easier.

Close-up of pine sap on a Tahoe pine cone

Close-up of pine sap on a Tahoe pine cone.

These tiny white crystals are fresh pine sap.  When a pine cone hits the ground, these fine sap crystals will break and spray all over everything in their path.

2.)  Awareness – Be aware of your surroundings.  The squirrels are busy bringing down pine cones.  You may hear them, they sound like squealing birds.  Here are some other signs that animals are busy around you.

Signs that animals are working above you.

Signs that animals are working above you.

An unopened pine cone loaded with nuts and sap can weigh several pounds and when it falls it can cause serious physical harm to you if it hits you, so it’s important that you are aware of your surroundings.  When any pine cone drops you need to stay clear so listen for the noise of something moving/falling and get away from the trees.  Pine cones will bounce, so be prepared to move quickly.

Opened pine cone compared to an un-opened pine cone.

Opened pine cone compared to an un-opened pine cone

3.)  Parking – Don’t park under the pine trees.  Now is the time to avoid being under them.  A falling pine cone can cause serious damage to your car and pine sap can ruin your paint job.  In Tahoe you may not be able to avoid parking under all of the Tahoe pine trees, but if you can avoid it, you should.

4.)  Extra Towels -Just in case you, or your pet should get sap on you while you are out enjoying Tahoe, always carry a couple  of towels in your vehicle.  You’ll minimize how many other things you will get it on by having a towel you can put down on your seats.

5.)  Safety – If you don’t have someone to go with you and you’re going to go on a walk, bike, or run by yourself, be sure to let others know what path you’re going to take, and when you should be back.  If something should happen while you’re out, others will know where and when they should start to look for you.  Safety starts with a plan that you hope to never use!

Have a fun and safe Tahoe outing as you enjoy our fall weather and keep a look out for those falling pine cones.  For more Tahoe tips visit my blog, or website www.TahoeLauraLuxuryHomes.com.   For all of your Tahoe real estate needs – ask for Laura Allen, Broker-Associate, REALTOR®, CRS, ABR, ePRO, RSPS, 530.414.1260  www.TahoeLauraLuxuryHomes.com  Laura@TahoeLaura.com  DRE# 01473598,  Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Tahoe City, CA  96145

Tahoe Buyer Tip – How much off-street parking does the property really have?

Tahoe Buyer Tip – How much off-street parking does the property really have?

On the surface it seems like a pretty straight forward question.  After all there is only so much space for a car, or truck on a driveway, or in a garage, and of course there is always parking on the street in front of the home, right?

A common Tahoe buyer mistake is not taking into account how much driveway space will be lost once the snow starts to pile up. Once the snow has been plowed off the driveway it will get piled in other places next to your driveway, which may result in a  loss of off-street parking depending on how much snow we get that season.

Winter - West Shore, Tahoe City, Lake Tahoe, California

My home on the West Shore, Tahoe City, Lake Tahoe, California - March 2011

The second buyer mistake is not knowing about the local parking restrictions for the North Shore, West Shore, and greater Tahoe City areas for our streets and shoulders.  You’ve guessed it – no parking on the neighborhood streets or shoulders from November 1 through May 1 each year.

Local parking restrictions - West Shore, North Shore, greater Tahoe City, Lake Tahoe, CA areas

Local highway sign posting parking restrictions

Tahoe buyers that look at properties between May 2 through October 31 of each year may not realize that the parking in front of their home will not be available from Nov 1 through May 1. As a local Tahoe REALTOR® I understand that off-street parking isn’t a very glamorous subject and it is something that is easily over-looked by a buyer in the excitement of getting a resort-vacation second home property, but it’s a really important one if it turns out you don’t have enough parking for everyone.

My Tahoe buyer tip to anyone looking to buy, or get a long-term, or ski lease rental in our area is to be sure and ask, how much off-street parking you may have once it begins to snow.   Be sure to let you Tahoe REALTOR® know how many vehicles you will be looking to park on a regular basis so they can select appropriate properties that will meet your needs all-year long.

For all of your Tahoe real estate needs – ask for Laura Allen, Broker-Associate, REALTOR®, CRS, ABR, ePRO, RSPS, 530.414.1260 www.TahoeLauraLuxuryHomes.com  Laura@TahoeLaura.com  DRE# 01473598,  Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Tahoe City, CA  96145

Take a walk, or bike ride – Lake Tahoe, West Shore, Tahoe City, California

Take a walk, or bike ride – Lake Tahoe, West Shore, Tahoe City, CA
When I’m not working with buyers or sellers helping them reach their Tahoe real estate goals, I love riding my bike. I will never break a time-trial, or set a land-speed record. No, I’m the one on the upright bike that has room for a basket and bell and enjoys waiving at friends.

Today was the 143 day I’ve ridden my bike this year. That may not seem like a lot, but given how much snow we got last winter, I feel I’ve done a good job of getting my daily bike ride in this past summer and now during the fall season.
I start my daily bike ride down on the West Shore of Tahoe City by Ward Creek, which is near Pineland – Sunnyside, and I ride past Timberland, through Hurricane Bay, past Skyland, and Blackwood Canyon. I love looking up at Eagle Rock and seeing if anyone has made the hike up. My ride ends about 2.5 miles down the West Shore after passing Fleur du Lac in Tahoe Pines, and ending up just past the home owners’ beach in Tahoe Swiss, which is now in Homewood and then it’s time to do the return trip for a 5 mile ride!

Lake Tahoe is just spectacular at this time of year. The foliage is just turning color, and the paved bike path makes it easy for a ride, or walk. Don’t miss out on enjoying our fabulous fall season. Now is the time to come up to Lake Tahoe and enjoy yourself. Take a look at what I saw today!

For all of your Tahoe real estate needs – Ask for Laura Allen, Broker-Associate, REALTOR®,CRS, RSPS, ABR®, ePRO, DRE# 01473598, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Tahoe City, CA 96145 530.414.1260  www.TahoeLauraLuxuryHomes.com

5 More Tahoe Property Owner Tips to prepare for winter

5 More Tahoe Property Owner Tips to prepare for winter

October is slipping by and last week we had the big wake-up call with snow on the beaches of Lake Tahoe.  While it quickly melted away and temperatures warmed up, everyone knows that these snow-free days are numbered.  It won’t be long until the next snow fall will stick around until next spring.  So here are five more Tahoe property owner tips to prepare for the upcoming winter season.

1.)    Deck and Patio Furniture.  It’s time to put away the outdoor seasonal deck, lawn, and patio furniture.  Most outdoor furniture is not built for our Tahoe winters, so storing away this furniture is the best way to preserve it.  If it needs to stay out all season, be sure to cover it and keep it away from the roof line and from pine trees where snow will shed, or drop off and potentially damage your furniture.

2.)    Wood Storage.  For those Tahoe owners that will use their wood burning fireplaces, or wood burning stoves this winter, if you haven’t stored your wood, now is the time to do that job.  If your storage area is uncovered, then covering your wood piles with tarps will help keep your wood dry and make starting your winter fires that much easier. 

3.)    Photographs.  As you get your Tahoe property ready for the upcoming winter, be sure to take photographs of your property – inside and out.  There are two reasons to do this.  The first is just in case there should be a problem at the property during the winter.  For example, a pine tree falls down on the home, snow slides through a window, a water pipe breaks, or you have a bear break-in.  Hopefully none of these things will happen, but if they do, you’ll have current photos for your insurance company.  The second reason to have current photos is if you decide to put your Tahoe home on the market to sell it this winter, or early next spring you’ll have photos of your home with out snow for your marketing program.

4.)    Snow Poles.  It’s time to put up the snow poles in the driveway, by the bear box, wood pile, and any other place you’ll want to keep clear, or locate once the snow begins to fall.  For those that are new to Tahoe, a snow pole is a metal, wood, or plastic pole that is 8 – 10 feet high.  These poles are used to locate items under the heavy snow and guide the snow removal company that plows the driveway and clears pathways.    

5.)     Check Your Tires and Snow Chains.  Safety is always a priority for everyone.  So it’s time to get your vehicle ready for the Tahoe winter season.  One of the big items to check on your vehicle are the tires.  If you have all-weather tires, be sure to check them – air pressure and for wear.  If you have studded snow tires, you are allowed to put them on from November 1 through May 1 each year.   If you use chains on your tires, get them back into your vehicle.  Check them for broken links and make sure they fit your tires.      

For those of you that missed the first 10 Tahoe property owner tips to prepare for the upcoming winter season, here they are again.

1)      Furnace Check-Up.  If it’s been a while since your furnace had a check-up, now is the time to set-up an appointment.  No time for an appointment?  At least make sure you replace the air filter, or clean it.  Make sure the cold air return is clear of furniture and clean.  Remember to turn your thermostats “on” and set for at least 50 degrees.

2)      Propane Tank Levels.  If your home is heated by propane, check your tank levels and re-fill as necessary.  This is also a good time to make sure there are snow poles in place marking where your tank is located at. 

3)      Foundation Vents. If you remembered to open your foundation vents to air out your craw spaces, now is the time to close them up to prevent pipe freezing later in the season.

4)      Snow Removal Service.  Have you set up your snow removal service for the upcoming 2011-2012 season?  It’s time to get your annual contract.  If you weren’t happy with last years’ snow removal service, now is the time to shop around and line-up someone new.

5)      Snow Shovels.  As you store away the summer seasonal items, now is the time to locate your snow shovels, and re-stock the snow melt.  

6)      Outdoor and Indoor Lights.  Check all of your outdoor and indoor lights to make sure they are working.  Replace burned out light bulbs now while access is easy. If lamps are on timers, adjust them so they turn on earlier for the shorter days.      

7)      Flashlights.  The winter weather will bring power outages.  Check all flashlights to make sure they are working.   Replace old batteries and place the flashlights where you can easily find them.  If you don’t have a flash light in your car, this is a good time to put one in.  

8)      Smoke detectors.  It’s easy to forget to change out the batteries in your smoke detectors, until they start to chirp.  If you know you won’t be in Tahoe for the fall-back time change, replace the batteries in your smoke detectors now and change your timing to when you bring in the deck patio furniture and when you take it out! 

9)      Carbon Monoxide Detectors.  As of July 1, 2011, California state law changed, and all homes should have a carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home.   If you haven’t installed them, do so now.  

10)  Tahoe Fun.  One of Tahoe’s best kept secrets are the fabulous fall days.  The summer crowds are long gone, but Tahoe is still amazing.  Before the snow falls make sure to spend at least one weekend in Tahoe and have some fall fun! 

 For all of your Tahoe real estate needs, Laura Allen, Broker Associate, REALTOR®, CRS, DRE# 01473598, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Tahoe City, CA  530-414-1260 www.TahoeLauraLuxuryHomes.com email Laura@TahoeLaura.com

5 Tahoe Buyer Tips

If you’re looking to buy a vacation-resort second home/condo in the Tahoe market, here are 5 Tahoe buyer tips to keep in mind.

1.) Location, location, location – it’s true in Tahoe too. Location is just as important here as it is every where else. Not all Tahoe locations are equal. The same A-frame cabin in one neighborhood can be worth a lot more than the same one just a few blocks away. Special features such as home owner association memberships, walking distance to Lake Tahoe, backing to open space, or a steep driveway can make significant value differences. Some features may seem obvious that will add, or take away value, but others may not be as apparent. Local Tahoe knowledge is extremely valuable and your Tahoe real estate professional will be able to help you establish valuations for the properties you are interested in.

2.) Furnishings are negotiable. A lot has changed with getting a loan, so buying a Tahoe property with furnishings is not as easy as it once was, but sellers are still looking to include them in the sale of their Tahoe second homes, so don’t forget to ask if they are available.

3.) Ask for the Bear Box. In Tahoe, a bear box is a secured container that your garbage cans are stored in. They are called “Bear Boxes” because they have been designed to prevent the local wildlife from breaking in and scattering your garbage through-out the neighborhood. Like a built-in appliance, the bear box should be permanently attached to the property, and should come with the property, but just in case, make sure to include this item as something to be left behind by the seller and include it in your offer.

4.) Be Flexible. Buyers start their search for the perfect Tahoe lakefront, cabin, home, or condo on the internet. What a buyer can’t see on-line is the over all setting, or feel a neighborhood, or location has to offer. Pictures are great, but they often don’t show how close the next door neighbor really is, or how loud the road noise will be at that location. Be flexible and open to seeing other homes that aren’t on your list. Remember, some places don’t photograph well and just show better in person. Being flexible will allow you to find the best Tahoe property.

5.) Tahoe Vacation Rentals. If you’re thinking about doing some short-term vacation rentals to off-set your operating costs, be sure to ask you local Tahoe real estate professional if the property you are seeing is currently on a vacation rental program. Now is the time to find out what features make a vacation property more rentable over others.

These quick 5 Tahoe buyer tips are things to keep in mind as you search for the perfect Tahoe vacation property. For more Tahoe buyer tips and information visit http://www.TahoeLauraLuxuryHomes.com for all of your Tahoe real estate needs. 

Laura Allen, REALTOR, Broker Associate, Coldwell Banker, Tahoe City, CA DRE#01473598

 

The Tahoe Ski Lease Season is here!

The temperatures are dropping and the weather services are predicting our first snow in the high Sierra Mountains this week. Fall is here and the snow boarders and skiers will soon be back on the slopes.

This past weekend I was in our office and I was talking to Debbie Milani, Tahoe City, Coldwell Banker Vacation Rental Property Manager and she reminded me to let my Tahoe clients know that now is the time to get their properties on the vacation rental list for the upcoming “Tahoe Ski Lease” season.

A Tahoe ski lease is a winter monthly rental, which may begin as early as the 1st of November, and can end as late as May. It can also be a shorter period of time beginning right after New Year’s Eve and ending in March. It all depends on what period of time the Tahoe property owner isn’t going to use their property, and how much income they are hoping to generate.

Tahoe property owners that know they will not being using their property at all during the winter season that want to generate some income to off-set operating costs, often ski-lease their Tahoe cabin, condo, home, or lakefront property rather than just closing the property up for the winter.

Those Tahoe owners that want to use their property during the ski season, or for the major holidays, but still want vacation rental income select the vacation weekend/weekly rental periods rather than the ski lease option.

Our Tahoe winter season started early last year with heavy snow on the ground before Thanksgiving. Many are hoping for the same thing this year as our phones have begun to ring and our on-line bookings are picking up for our premium winter vacation rental periods.

October may seem too early for many of us to think about the upcoming winter season, but those potential renters that want to ski this year are already busy searching the internet, walking into our local real estate offices and inquiring about the availability for ski lease rentals for the 2011-2012 winter season right now.

Talking with your Tahoe vacation-resort second home property manager now will allow you to maximize your income opportunities to get the best bookings for this upcoming season.

For all of your Lake Tahoe, North Shore, West Shore, Tahoe City, Homewood, Alpine Meadows, Olympic Valley, Northstar, Truckee, Tahoe Donner real estate needs, www.TahoeLauraLuxuryHomes.com

10 Tahoe Property Owner Tips to prepare for Winter

It’s early October and while our current Tahoe weather still feels like its summer, everyone knows that these days are numbered. It won’t be long until the first snow falls. So here are ten Tahoe property owner tips to prepare for the upcoming winter.

1.) Furnace Check-Up. If it’s been a while since your furnace had a check-up, now is the time to set-up an appointment. No time for an appointment? At least make sure you replace the air filter, or clean it. Make sure the cold air return is clear of furniture and clean. Remember to turn your thermostats “on” and set for at least 50 degrees.
2.) Propane Tank Levels. If your home is heated by propane, check your tank levels and re-fill as necessary. This is also a good time to make sure there are snow poles in place marking where your tank is located at.
3.) Foundation Vents. If you remembered to open your foundation vents to air out your craw spaces, now is the time to close them up to prevent pipe freezing later in the season.
4.) Snow Removal Service. Have you set up your snow removal service for the upcoming 2011-2012 season? It’s time to get your annual contract. If you weren’t happy with last years’ snow removal service, now is the time to shop around and line-up someone new.
5.) Snow Shovels. As you store away the summer seasonal items, now is the time to locate your snow shovels, and re-stock the snow melt.
6.) Outdoor and Indoor Lights. Check all of your outdoor and indoor lights to make sure they are working. Replace burned out light bulbs now while access is easy. If lamps are on timers, adjust them so they turn on earlier for the shorter days.
7.) Flashlights. The winter weather will bring power outages. Check all flashlights to make sure they are working. Replace old batteries and place the flashlights where you can easily find them. If you don’t have a flash light in your car, this is a good time to put one in.
8.) Smoke detectors. It’s easy to forget to change out the batteries in your smoke detectors, until they start to chirp. If you know you won’t be in Tahoe for the fall-back time change, replace the batteries in your smoke detectors now and change your timing to when you bring in the deck patio furniture and when you take it out!
9.) Carbon Monoxide Detectors. As of July 1, 2011, California state law changed, and all homes should have a carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home. If you haven’t installed them, do so now.
10.) Tahoe Fun. One of Tahoe’s best kept secrets are the fabulous fall days. The summer crowds are long gone, but Tahoe is still amazing. Before the snow falls make sure to spend at least one weekend in Tahoe and have some fall fun!

For all of your Tahoe real estate needs, Laura Allen, Broker Associate, REALTOR®, CRS, DRE# 01473598, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Tahoe City, CA 530-414-1260      www.TahoeLauraLuxuryHomes.com      email Laura@TahoeLaura.com