Bear Safety For Your Lake Tahoe Real Estate

Chances are if you live in Lake Tahoe, you have seen a bear or two. In fact, you likely have a neighborhood bear that you see on occasion or hear outside your window from time to time. Of course we have sightings all year long depending on how dry a winter has been, but during spring and summer, their appearances become much more common. If you need a refresher on how to co exist in “Bear Country”, check out these tips and facts!

In Lake Tahoe, there is only one species of Bear: The Black Bear. People occasionally get confused as black bears actually range in color from blonde to cinnamon brown (the most common) to black. It is said California has roughly 30,000 bears while Nevada has about 300. The average weight is about 300, but they can go up to 500. They can move pretty quickly at 35 mph and are great at climbing trees and swimming. They also prefer berries, insects, honey, nuts, roots and plants with the occasional small mammal mixed in for variety. This breed of bear generally likes to avoid humans so if you come across one make sure they don’t feel boxed in and leave them a way to escape. If they get too accustomed to people, they will lose their fear of humans and get too bold for their own good. The best way to prevent this from happening is bear proofing your property with these tips:

1.) Do NOT feed the bears. We know….they are cute and fluffy but the saying “A fed bear is a dead bear” is incredibly accurate. Once they become accustomed to human food, bears will keep coming back which creates a conflicts with humans. This will not stop voluntarily either meaning you leaving food out could put the bear’s life on the line.

2.) When it comes to garbage, you have two options to keep bears at bay: Either invest in a bear proof garbage container OR put the garbage out the morning of collection day.

3.) If you happen to be growing any fruits or veggies, pick them as soon as they are ripe and make sure you don’t leave any fallen fruits on the ground.

4.) Keep pet food inside and make sure they are fed inside.

5.) Don’t leave food, trash or any type of animal food in your vehicles. Also make sure to lock your vehicles to try and prevent property damage.

6.) Treat your garbage cans with ammonia to keep any food or trash smells at bay.

7.) Make sure your bbq’s are kept clean.

8.) In fact, try to keep any type of scented items (candles, lotions, repellent, etc.) inside.

9.) Lock your windows and doors and keep your property secure so bears don’t follow a scent inside.

10.) When you are not occupying your Lake Tahoe real estate, make sure you remove all foods or scented products.

11.) Block crawl spaces, decks and any access points on a building to deter bears from hibernating under your Lake Tahoe property for sale.

You could do all these things and still have an encounter with a bear. In the event that this happens, do not run. Assert your dominance, stand tall, make noise and be aggressive. A local tip is bang pots and pans together. This usually scares them off. If you do not have access to kitchen items and you happen to be in the woods, stay calm, make eye contact but don’t stare and slowly walk away while making loud noise. Make yourself look as large as possible and pick up small children. Whatever you do, do not block their escape route and do not get between a mama and her cubs. Bear attacks are incredibly rare, but doing one of these two things will almost guarantee a confrontation. The term “Mama Bear” originates from somewhere folks! However, as long as you keep human food from being accessible, you are less likely to have an encounter. In fact, in California it is illegal to feed bears and VERY discouraged in the state of Nevada. If being penalized by local ordinances and the law isn’t bad enough, you will have the Lake Tahoe locals to answer to and we are very protective of our bears.

If you need to contact someone regarding a bear issue, start with the Tahoe Bear League and their convenient 24 hour hotline number: 530-525-7297. Other options include Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care Center at 530-577-2273 or Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Forest Service Office 530-543-2600.

Lake Tahoe Defensible Fire Space

Now is the time of year when Defensible Fire Space becomes a hot topic….no pun intended. You may be selling your Lake Tahoe real estate and not thinking much of it, or you may be using your home as a Lake Tahoe vacation rental. Regardless of if you are occupying the residence or not, you will want to make sure you follow these tips to protect your South Lake Tahoe real estate.

The first thing to know about defensible fire space is that it is made up of 2 zones creating a 100 foot “barrier” of space between the trees, shrubs and wildland area and your South Lake Tahoe real estate. This either slows or stops wildfire from spreading. The point of this is to give your home a good chance of making it in the event that a catastrophic fire threatens the safety of your home. This space acts as a buffer that is also crucial to the safety of the fire fighters working to protect your home and the surrounding area.

The first zone, known as zone 1, is the first 30-50 feet (depends on the California county) from actual structures. This could be a Lake Tahoe house for sale, shed, deck, any type of building really.  Within this first zone, you will want to remove all vegetation. This qualifies as dead plants, grass, weeds, dry leaves and pine needles. Basically anything that could fuel the fire. Remove from grounds, under decks, rain gutters and roofs. Once you have removed these out of zone 1, now it is time to trim. Trim branches so they are 10 feet away from other trees and your chimney. Also be sure to remove any that may be hanging over your home for sale in South Lake Tahoe. If you have any plants or bushes near windows, make sure they are pruned or even removed altogether. You may also want to move flammable items like swing sets, wood piles and patio furniture away from trees, bushes, shrubs and wood piles. In fact, moving any wood piles into Zone 2 would be your best bet.

Speaking of Zone 2, this is the space that is 100 feet out from any type of structure, building or deck. This is the area that should follow some of the same rules for Zone 1. The difference with this particular zone is you need to create both vertical and horizontal space between trees, grass and shrubs. Otherwise, keep grass at a max height of 4 inches. When it comes to needles, bark, cones and small branches, these are permitted to be at a 3 inch depth.

While our South Lake Tahoe fire department is great at responding quickly and the locals are very vigilant about reporting any kind of smoke, it is pertinent to do everything you can to protect your Lake Tahoe real estate from the threat of wild fire. For more information on this topic, click here.



Is Buying That Dream Property The Right Move For You?

South Lake Tahoe is an adult playground. It is actually a playground for all ages with something for everyone. 3 Million everyone’s to be exact. So it is no wonder that we get so many transplants from all around the globe. If you consider Lake Tahoe to be your own personal happy place, you likely have considered buying a vacation home that you can return to every single year. Vacation homes in South Lake Tahoe can be a fabulous source of income as well as a great investment. If you are mulling this idea in your head, you aren’t alone. In 2014 there was a 57% increase in vacation homes sold in comparison to 2013. 1.13 million properties in the United States sold for the purpose of being a vacation home. So should you jump on the bandwagon? Ask yourself the following questions!

Can You Afford It?

Buying one home is a major financial commitment as it is. Buying two is, especially one that is far away, is something you need to really analyze. You will need to furnish the property, pay for property taxes, utilities and property maintenance. If you work with a qualified vacation rental company, a couple of these tasks will be a breeze.  If you have evaluated the second set of expenses and can answer yes to the above question, move on to the next scenario.

How often will you use the property?

If you plan on using the property more than a month or two every year, then purchasing a South Lake Tahoe home for sale as a vacation rental is likely going to be worth it. If you are planning on using it less, but renting it out the other months, then once again it is likely going to be worth it. However, if you are stretching it financially and you will only be using the home once or twice a year for a couple weeks at a time, you may want to think about taking this step a little further.

Are you going to rent it out?

So many people looking for homes for sale in South Lake Tahoe think they can easily rent out the property when they are not using it to supplement the cost of  the second home. Basically, people tend to sometimes underestimate what goes into a successful South Lake Tahoe vacation rental. You need to make sure it is furnished, has all the major kitchen utensils, linens, towels, basically all the amenities of a home. You will also need to have someone on call for maintenance issues or available in case something goes awry. As an expert on the vacation rental industry, it is advisable to list your vacation rental in South Lake Tahoe with a qualified management company. After all, if your vacation rental falls short of expectations and folks aren’t getting the “full experience”, they will likely not come back. Or worse, leave bad reviews to keep others from staying. If renting out your home as a South Lake Tahoe vacation property is a big part of your plan, you will absolutely need to go through this aspect with a fine tooth comb before signing on the dotted line.

What is your long term goal?

If you are buying this property with the mindset that you will eventually retire in this property for sale in South Lake Tahoe, then using it a few times a year and renting it out the rest of the time is an excellent plan. If you don’t have a long term plan at all, you may want to push pause for just a second and chat with a qualified South Lake Tahoe Realtor about what comes with owning a vacation rental in South Lake Tahoe.

Have any questions on this topic? Give me a call! I’d be happy to help.