by Yun Long
With one click, one person could win a dream home in the Lake Tahoe area. HGTV has chosen Schaffer’s Mill in Truckee as its next location for its Dream Home giveaway.
“It’s validation that this market is where people want to be,” said Jim Matoska, president of sales and marketing for Schaffer’s Mill. “You can’t just replace properties like Schaffer’s Mill or areas like Lake Tahoe, which are just so unique. HGTV recognized that and did their research. It certainly benefits the whole area. More people are becoming aware of what we already know — that Tahoe is a unique lifestyle.”
It is the 18th year of the cable network giveaway, which last year garnered more than 80 million entries for the Kiawah Island, S.C., giveaway home. Previous homes have been located across the county in Sonoma, Calif.; Jackson Hole, Wyo.; Camden, Maine; and three in Florida.
“I have been responsible for scouting the location for every HGTV dream home since the beginning,” said Jack Thomasson, HGTV house planner. “I really scour the country each year for the place that I feel is our next-best location.”
He has scouted the Lake Tahoe area several times but could never find the right location, until this spring when he heard about Schaffer’s Mill.
It is less than 20 miles from popular Lake Tahoe attractions and have several ski resorts less than 30 minutes away. USA Today named Lake Tahoe one of the best lakes in the United States in 2012.
Thomasson said he liked Schaffer’s Mill’s philosophy of responsible growth and connection it made to the best parts of the region such as the lake and ski resorts.
The 3,200-square-foot Truckee dream home will have large expanses of windows and sliding glass doors to take advantage of the views of two golf course fairways, as well as the Carson Range, which separates Nevada and California.
The design features two-wings — one for entertaining and living and the other includes three bedrooms. It will include many energy-efficient features as well.
The home emphasizes indoor-outdoor living, with an outdoor fireplace and hot tub overlooking the golf course.
A new mountain home is what the designers were aiming for, and the home is nestled in evergreen trees that are more than 100 years old.
“It’s rooted in more traditional homes of that area but definitely is a progressive design,” Thomasson said. “When you see the house and rendering, you can recognize familiar shapes and things you see in many mountain homes, but there’s a fresh difference.”
The dream home site is directly on the Schaffer’s Mill Club golf course but is protected from golf balls.
Home sites at the golf community range from $275,000 to $400,000 depending on the views, which doesn’t include the cost of building the house. Construction costs could start at $290 per square foot.
The developer also offers three- or four-bedroom mountain lodges, or townhomes, which cost from $900,000 to $1.1 million.
Reno-based real estate developer Tanamera Construction is the lead contractor of the HGTV dream home. It was designed by David Bourke of Truckee-based Ward-Young Architecture and Thomasson.
“We build on such a fast timeline that I need to find local and area contractors that have existing relationships with suppliers, subcontractors and knowledge of the area,” Thomasson said. “And it really makes what I do possible within the timeline, and I really rely on my local team.”
Schaffer’s Mills officials said they hope to have construction complete by mid-September, which is about five months of construction time.
HGTV then will fully furnish the house before a reveal near the end of 2013.
Entry period opens around the new year, while the home will be given away in March.
Public tours will be allowed after the new year, with ticket sales benefiting local charities. Last year, about 30,000 people visited the South Carolina home, and some people even plan their annual vacation around the dream home location, Thomasson said.
“Part of what we want to do with the dream home every year is to show an experience in different parts of the country,” he said.
The dream home also brings economic benefits to the region. Construction material and contractors are sourced locally, the tourist dollars come from the film crews and visitors, and HGTV generates national exposure for the Lake Tahoe region.
“The fact that the house is part of HGTV Dream Home sweepstakes means that we really want people to understand not only the house, but the community, the area, so that they have an appreciation for what exactly the entire sweepstakes package is all about,” Thomasson said. “And we hope they fall in love with it.”
The cable network plans to film around the region, including the cities surrounding Lake Tahoe to show the best of the region and what makes it special.
Schaffer's Mill perks
The winner of the home will enjoy the amenities of being a Schaffer’s Mill member, including a new Clubhouse Village, access to a club yacht at Lake Tahoe, a private club at Jake’s on the Lake, private shuttle door-to-door service to Northstar California and basecamp location for members to store gear while at the ski resort.
“The goal is to sell the real estate, create a club that everyone enjoys being a part of and just has a fantastic time, enjoys each other and create memories,” said developer John Marlin, whose company, Dallas-based New Martis Partners, acquired the distressed property Timilick in 2011 from the bank. “That’s what we what to do in the long run.”
After the purchase, he rebranded the gated golf community to honor George Schaffer, who opened one of the first lumber mills in the area and guided the development of the city of Truckee.
Marlin and his group have spent more than $10 million on maintaining the golf course, improving the community and adding amenities. The two nine-hole courses are designed by Johnny Miller and John Harbottle.
In late June, the North Village Clubhouse opened. It featured a sports shop, gym, pool and eateries. Construction on a South Village building will begin later this year.
Marlin also has made a point of integrating the mountains and lake into the membership perks.
Schaffer’s Mill members can get door-to-door service to Northstar Ski Resort, which is less than 10 minutes away. A shuttle service will pick up skiers at the community and take them to the Mill’s exclusive basecamp at Northstar Village. Members have a lounge to store equipment and relax when not on the mountain.
During the summers, members can take booked the community’s 48-foot yacht, “No Brainer,” for Lake Tahoe excursions. It is fully staffed.
Members also have access to a private club above the restaurant Jake’s on the Lake.
“In our research, we have found that you don’t really have communities that have all three: golf, lake and ski,” Matoska said. “We felt like this was an opportunity to provide it.”
The community prides itself on being family-oriented, and a lot of its members have children. Also, a majority come from the Bay Area because of the easy drive for many along Interstate 80.
Price of living in a dream home
The winner of the HGTV dream home also will receive $500,000 and a new vehicle from GMC. But, winners are responsible for any real estate transfer taxes, deed recording charges and closing costs. The Internal Revenue Service also would like a cut of the prize. All winnings are taxed like any other kind of income in the United States.
Schaffer’s Mill residents also have to pay an initiation fee of $3,500, home ownership association dues and membership fees.
Or, the winner can choose a cash option and give the home back to the developer to sell.
“Sometimes, it’s not even a matter if whether or not they can afford the house,” Thomasson said. “Sometimes, it’s a matter of geography, and if you and your family are very settled in a certain area in another part of the country, it’s not really practical to move to another location.”
Trophy properties at Lake Tahoe
The Lake Tahoe region has seen a pickup in the real estate market.
Truckee saw the number of sales up by 12 percent in the second quarter in year-over-year numbers, according to Lake Tahoe-based real estate company Chase International.
The average home price increased by 27 percent to $650,588. Much was pushed by million-dollar home sales jumping 110 percent in the second quarter.
“So many improvements and amenities have gone in with Northstar and Ritz Carlton, that all encompasses the Truckee-area,” said Susan Lowe, corporate vice president of Chase International.
Truckee’s closeness to Lake Tahoe, but fewer building restrictions also is a draw, she said.
It follows a lake-wide trend of increased luxury homebuying. Chase reports that sales of homes more than $1 million increased 127 percent during the second quarter of 2013, compared to the same time period in 2012. The Tahoe region saw two sales of more the $20 million in the past few months, which it hasn’t seen since 2008, Lowe said.
Sale prices also are up 60 percent to $806,228 lakewide.
Low inventory in the lower-end of the market is driving up prices across the United States, including the Reno and Lake Tahoe region, she said.
The Nevada side of the lake has seen stronger home sales as California’s Proposition 30, which increases taxes on higher-income earners, motivates many to leave the Golden State for bluer waters.
In the past four months, sales have picked up at Schaffer’s Mill with 17 unit sales that totaled about $6 million.
The development has about 170 townhomes and 170 single-family home sites, but they have only released about 80 home sites and 60 mountain lodges. Only about five sites remain that border the golf course.
A heated real estate market in the Bay Area also has driven many potential homebuyers to look further for deals on prime property.
Buyers are looking to seize the moment to buy those second homes or a place near Lake Tahoe before prices and interest rates begin to rise.
“They have confidence in the real estate market again, No. 1,” Matoska said. “No. 2, you can’t replace trophy properties or prime locations. Tahoe has always been that.”
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