Almost 250 days of sunshine each year, 72 miles of lake shoreline, a striking mountain backdrop, and nearly 275 inches of annual snowfall at the local ski resort make Lake Tahoe a top vacation spot for outdoor enthusiasts and adventurous families alike — no matter the season.
But the wide array of things to do and see isn’t only a draw for the 15 million people who visit the “Ocean in the Sky” each year. It also catches the eye of real estate investors, as the area has strong vacation rental opportunities for buyers interested in lake house and cabin investments.
To help you understand the potential value of a Lake Tahoe investment property, we created a free, downloadable vacation rental market analysis. Inside you’ll find:
The findings in this analysis are based on Evolve’s Lake Tahoe market averages in the last year and provide a general baseline for performance potential. They’re designed to help inform smart buying decisions when investing in Lake Tahoe real estate.
With year-round interest and proximity to major airports and big cities (think Reno, San Francisco, and Sacramento), Lake Tahoe offers a convenient, small town getaway to both out-of-state visitors and local vacationers.
As a result, Lake Tahoe real estate is a good investment for those who want consistent and predictable vacation rental demand. The area sees two strong peak seasons — summer and winter — thanks to enjoyable lake and ski weather. This translates to solid annual occupancy and income generation.
That said, our real estate experts say permitting restrictions can be tricky to navigate and permits may be tough to come by in certain neighborhoods. So investors should research their options and recruit the help of short-term rental experts (like our team) to inform their buying decisions.
It’s also important to know the varying upfront costs investors can face based on where they ultimately make a Lake Tahoe Airbnb investment. Tahoe City, for instance, has a median list price around $1.1 million, while its South Lake Tahoe neighbor offers more affordable homes averaging just under $653,000).
There’s always the option to check out property on the Nevada side of the lake, too. Home prices in Stateline, NV are comparable to South Lake Tahoe figures, and our team says permits can be easier to get. And while Lake Tahoe, CA gets more name recognition, Nevada towns on the lakefront offer many of the same major perks — including easy access to sandy shores, jaw-dropping mountains, and powdery ski slopes.
Demand for adventurous getaways and action-packed weekends isn’t likely to go away any time soon — so Lake Tahoe real estate presents long-term investment potential. That said, you’ll want to keep these important factors front and center when evaluating the market to truly maximize your success.
They say “go big or go home,” and California real estate is no exception. Evolve’s top-performing Lake Tahoe investment properties range from three to six-bedrooms, with five-bedroom homes pulling in the most annual revenue on average.
However, five-bedroom properties also make up the area’s smallest amount of inventory. This could make grabbing one more difficult, but those who do could break into the Lake Tahoe vacation rental market in a big way.
If a home of that size isn’t part of your investment plan, three- or four-bedroom properties can be good alternatives. Five-bedrooms have the highest number of average nights booked annually, while a three-bedroom happened to be our most-booked Lake Tahoe home last year. Three-bedroom properties also account for the largest percentage of available inventory, meaning more choice for potential buyers who want to accommodate groups both large and small at lower upfront costs.
Since the water and the slopes are Lake Tahoe’s two biggest draws, our experts say proximity to one or the other (but ideally both) is crucial to making a good investment. If you can swing clear views or direct access to either, that’s an added plus.
The great news: the overarching Lake Tahoe area is home to a whopping 15 ski resorts. But Northstar, Palisades, Sugar Bowl, and Sierra-at-Tahoe are some of the closest resorts to the lake, and Heavenly Mountain Resort is by far the most accessible with its slopes sitting just two miles from the shoreline. Buying a ski house near these is ideal for providing five-star guest convenience, which can translate to more bookings at higher rates for vacation rental owners. (Heavenly Mountain Resort is also in the more affordable South Lake Tahoe, CA and Stateline, NV vicinity, which can give investors the best of both the upfront cost and long-term performance worlds.)
At the northern tip of the lake sits the most popular launch point, Kings Beach — completely opposite from Heavenly Mountain Resort. According to our real estate experts, a vacation rental here can also be a strong investment, so buyers should explore both north and south shorelines when evaluating what’s best for them.
Another pro tip from our team: look for homes along free ski shuttle routes (or in condo complexes that include them as a perk). Several resorts in the area — like Palisades and Northstar — offer shuttle service along select roads. So if your property isn’t right at the base of a mountain, you can offset a guest’s commute to winter slopes with quick and easy transportation access.
There’s nothing travelers look forward to more than totally relaxing at the end of a long day, especially if that day’s excursions included area favorites like hiking, skiing, or wakeboarding. So it should come as no surprise that calming outdoor spaces and private hot tubs are some of the most sought-after amenities in a Lake Tahoe Airbnb investment. You’ll specifically want to keep an eye out for a spacious deck or patio — ideally one that gives your guests the opportunity to take in epic area views while they kick back.
It’s also important to make the in-home experience memorable to earn five-star reviews and repeat bookers. Aside from providing a helpful welcome book and “you’re here!” gifts, include an entertainment system for cozy nights in or kid-friendly amenities for stress-free family time. It’s also wise to consider properties with a laundry or mud-room for an easy drop of wet lake or ski gear.
There’s one other thing all of Evolve’s top-performing Lake Tahoe properties have in common — and it’s their architectural style. Cozy cabins are the most popular property type for short-term rentals in this area, and they have a certain aesthetic charm that guests seem to adore. So you should keep a cabin investment in mind when exploring homes for sale, and consider a cabin feel when making interior design choices, too.
With its great weather, outdoor scenery, and activities for all age groups and travel types, a Lake Tahoe investment property is definitely worth considering. Make the most of expert resources by downloading our free Lake Tahoe Vacation Rental Market Analysis today.
Inside you’ll find key insights like:
Evaluating your options shouldn’t be as strenuous as a hike on the Tahoe Rim Trail. Use our report to make your vacation rental journey as smooth as a summer paddle around Zephyr Cove.