Paul Oster is Broker/Owner of RE/MAX of Mammoth, and resident of Mammoth Lakes since 1981. Passionately focused on one-on-one service with his clients, Paul is experienced in multiple facets of resort real estate, development, and planning. In his free time he is an avid skier, mountain biker and deep-sea fisherman.
Thanks for visiting my Mammoth Real Estate Blog!
This weblog is about providing the real estate consumer with my insights, observations and opinions about Mammoth real estate. I strive to make it valuable. The foundation of this blog dates back to 1987 (pre-internet) when I started writing real estate related columns for the newly formed Mammoth Times.
I was recently cleaning out some old books and I came across a hardbound novel that had been given to me by one of my former associates in 2006. The inscription read; Is it “To a Realtor with a conscience” or “To a conscious Realtor”? It was somewhat of an inside joke.
During the booming market of the early 2000’s I was known to question that of my 20+ associates. It was a credo that mattered to me; doing the right thing for your clients AND paying attention to the changing market and the details of transactions. They go hand-in-hand. It still matters today. But it is becoming a lost art.
I moved to Mammoth Lakes in late 1981 at the age of 22 after graduating from UCLA. I had been a head waiter at the Charthouse in Marina del Rey and their newest restaurant was being opened in Mammoth. It was a golden opportunity for someone who had battled and beat lymphatic cancer while in college, and wasn’t ready for “the real world.” I was lucky to get the job. Mammoth Lakes has been my home ever since.
The 80’s was a fun and wild era to be young and in Mammoth, but there was the gnawing drive to create something more. I decided to follow my father’s footsteps into real estate brokerage. I eventually hooked up with RE/MAX in 1990 as a franchisee. In the 1990’s and 2000’s I built, owned and managed one of the largest real estate brokerages in Mammoth Lakes, and supervised dozens of brokers and agents and thousands of real estate transactions.
My partial degree in public administration also drove me to appointed public office (I would never want to campaign!). I have been a public official in Mammoth Lakes and Mono County for over 18 years. Today, after all of the trials and tribulations of life and business, I prefer a much smaller company and to utilize the cumulative experience and knowledge, to focus one-on-one with buyers and sellers of Mammoth Lakes real estate.
After working for several years at a long-standing “Main St.” brokerage, I attended RE/MAX management training in Denver, CO in the summer of 1990. While building and managing the company I remained an actively selling broker representing buyers and sellers of Mammoth area real estate. My father had warned me to never stop working with buyers and sellers. It was sound advice. At the peak of the last real estate boom the company regularly competed for #1 in Mammoth sales.
During that time, I was associated with some of the oldest, best and most experienced brokers in Mammoth Lakes (I learned a lot from them). And some of the hottest selling agents Mammoth has ever seen (there is a difference). I had several agents on the early Intrawest sales team that primed and rode the boom of the 2000’s. That cumulative experience and knowledge is invaluable to buyers and sellers of real estate.
Since 2008, I have been very active in the REO/foreclosure business, representing numerous banks and servicing companies. For many years I have been considered “A broker’s broker.” My real estate style is of candid realism with a hint of contrarian. I often remind myself of what Ben Franklin said, “Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.”
My experience as a Planning Commissioner from 1990-98 gives me unmatched knowledge of the resort planning and understanding. This is where all of the groundwork was laid. It was the most intense period of planning in Mammoth’s history. Mammoth Lakes desired to move from a newly incorporated small “Town” to a world class destination resort.
Specific Projects during my term as Planning Commissioner:
- The North Village Specific Plan (and EIRs) were hammered out and finalized in 1991 and then re-worked and re-approved (the “Eldon Beck plan”) in 1994.
- There were extensive public hearings to devise and approve the Town’s Sign Ordinance.
- The Lodestar (Sierra Star) Master Plan (and EIR).
- The hearings and final approvals for Sierra Star golf course.
- The Town’s first real General Plan (and EIR).
- The Bluffs plans in 1991 and 1996 (and EIRs), as well as the approval of The Bluffs Assessment District.
- The Eagle Base Specific Plan and downzoning of the Juniper Springs property (and EIRs).
- Hearings and approvals for Juniper Springs Lodge, the first condo hotel property developed in Mammoth Lakes.
- Extensive hearings on the Old Mammoth Road re-development and assessment district (the first of many).
- The Airport Master Plan (and EIR).
- The Mammoth Bikeway Plan (and EIR).
- The Mammoth Lakes Affordable Housing Plan (and EIR).
- The public hearings and passing of Mammoth’s original wood stove ordinance (90-04).
- Other subdivisions and EIRs including Juniper Ridge, Starwood and Snowcreek Phase 5.
- The original College Master Plan.
- The original Visitor’s Center Plan.
- And on and on. I’m lucky to have seen many of these come to fruition.
During that period I also served on the Board (and Chair) of the Mono County Arts Council. That was the beginning of educating the Mammoth’s locals and visitors about public art. And among other things, in 1995 we captured the Chamber Music of America grant that brought the Felici Trio to Mammoth Lakes.
I have sat on the Mono County Property Tax Appeals board since 2004 (current Chair). This experience has given me tremendous insight into the California property tax rules and laws and the Assessor’s operations. The rise and fall of property values in the past 10 years has provided a unique learning experience in California property taxation. During the 11 years I have also worked with five different Tax Assessors. Hearing the property tax appeals from throughout the county gives me additional and tremendous insight into the real estate of the county.
The decline in values since 2007 has brought forward many appeals, re-assessments and “Prop. 8 reductions.” The appeals have ranged from alfalfa fields in north county to the Starwood acquisition of Mammoth Mountain in 2005. One very rewarding sidebar benefit; the experience has given me the ability to counsel my clients in the appeals process, and in turn, save them thousands of dollars in property tax expense.
Today I am trying to re-balance from 30 years of being an 80-hour per week workaholic!
I still work full-time but I am trying to spend more time outdoors in the Sierra; especially my favorites, skiing and mountain biking. I have always believed that regularly skiing on Mammoth Mountain is critical to knowing the resort. Maybe there is more hiking and fly-fishing in my future (I don’t want to be that real estate person who “dies at their desk.”).
There should be time to focus on mental and physical health and well-being. My escape from Mammoth is usually on the warm Pacific chasing large tuna and wahoo. I recently moved my office to a streamlined space I purchased from Wells Fargo and have established a modern “cafe style” office. But my primary interest remains helping nice people find and design their piece of the Mammoth dream.