My often-used term “park-in-front condos” has recently drawn some inquiries. Paul, what’s the point? they ask. Prospective buyers who work directly with me inevitably hear me babble about it because I think it is one of those market subtleties that can make a significant long-term difference in the enjoyment of a property. And in the case of a rental condo, can make a big difference in the volume of repeat renters as well as overall customer satisfaction.
The diversity of Mammoth condos is really fascinating. Since the mid-1960’s, developers have taken their land and created an array of different condo styles and condo projects. Truly knowing the nuances of all these styles takes many years of active selling and listing–basically spending time in the units, listening to the comments of the owners and potential buyers–and looking and learning for yourself. Over the years you come to appreciate the key and critical features and benefits. You also learn the less-than-desirable traits. You also get to see how the units can take major or minor remodels or customization. You discover lots of things. That knowledge is invaluable.
I was also fortunate to spend a couple of years, in the early 80’s, before starting full-time in real estate brokerage, as a condominium manager. That experience was invaluable also–maintaining pools and spas, maintaining and driving a loader, snow blower, lawn mower, etc., controlling ice, epiphanies about frozen plumbing, and plenty about homeowners and nightly renters. All of it was very enlightening. A lot has changed over the years, and a lot hasn’t. I look at every condo project through the eyes of that experience.
So why am I so fond of these park-in-front condos? Mostly through experience (including personal ownership) and observation. Just envision the average southern California family who comes to Mammoth. Whether owners or renters, the Suburban is loaded up with adults, kids, recreational toys of all sizes, food, beer, and lots of other miscellaneous stuff. Upon arrival everything has to be moved into the condo. Think about that process, especially if it is late at night (or early in the morning), after a long drive, and it’s cold, the walkways are icy, maybe it’s even a snowing, and on and on.
Now think about the different styles of condos in Mammoth. Garages are, by-and-large, a luxury that come with a $1 million price tag. Some older units have garages, but are reserved for toys or owner storage. Plenty of condos have understructure parking, and some of them even have elevators. And we have projects where there is a nice, landscaped lined path leading from the parking to your new front door. It looks great on a quiet summer day, but just wait.
Look at our newer condo hotel properties, you’ll be parking in an under structure concrete garage where the parking is tight–in fact just getting a large SUV into the parking space is a challenge. So then all of the toys and food and stuff has to be loaded onto a cart and wheeled to the elevator. Once arriving at your appropriate floor the cart has to be wheeled down the hallway and unloaded in to the condo. Hopefully you’re not competing with any other family attempting the same thing. (Didn’t they offer valet and bellhop service? Maybe in a perfect world!)
Now pull up to one of the local park-in-front units and you can get the back of the Suburban an easy 10 to 30 feet from the front door. Throw everything in and you’re ready to play (or sleep).
Now I understand that no condo is perfect. Some will argue that understructure parking is the best because when it snows you don’t have to clear the snow off your car. But it doesn’t snow every day, but odds are that you’ll be schlepping something every day down the parking area, and up the stairs or elevator, and down the hallway before you hit the front door (exhausted). Of course having a nice, big private garage is the best. But they aren’t affordable for the majority of buyers.
The park-in-front units are also the favorite condos for local residents. It is all about convenience, and in winter the convenience is exponential. In the past couple of months, I’ve had two of these park-in-front units in my mind as good buys: Helios 5-South and Chateau Blanc #10. I showed these units and they have quality attributes besides the park-in-front. The sellers nudged their prices down. Now they both went to escrow. They were good ones. The new owners will someday come to appreciate the convenience these properties provide, probably after a long drive and in the middle of big snowstorm.
Meanwhile, I’ll have a Double-Double, a vanilla shake and some extra napkins. I gotta make town before they close the road.