Market Summary: September 25 – October 9

Mammoth Lakes Multiple Listing Service reports 27 sales/closings in Mammoth for the period ranging from a low of $84,000 to a high of $675,000. This is an increased number of closings which would certainly be expected this time of year. But 8 of the closings were from the recent Westin Monache auction. Another 8 of the closings were REO properties, and 2 were successful short sales.

At the period’s end there were 207 condominiums listed for sale (a decline). There are 67 single-family homes on the market (a decline) in Mammoth Lakes proper. There are 4 cabins on Forest Service leases available in the Lakes Basin, and they will be buried in snow soon enough. There are 48 lots of which 43 are residential lots (stable and stale).

The number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes proper decreased to 75. Total number of pendings in the Mammoth MLS is currently 92 (a decrease). This is probably the best indicator of slower sales activity–closings exceeding new pendings. Historically, this number would stay stable or increase through the pre-winter selling period.

Market Updates and News

Owners (can’t necessarily call them sellers because they don’t want to reduce their prices to get their properties sold) who have had their properties on the market are now facing their “what to do?” moments as winter approaches. This current 3-day weekend appears to be a sales activity flop for local agents. As I like to say; “the market has spoken” and the general hesitation by buyers at this point in the general economy is forcing the owners to make decisions. So what do they do?

The demand for seasonal long-term rentals has always been high in Mammoth. Despite an increased supply in this segment of the market, demand remains high. So some owners will turn there. One benefit for these owners is the new tenant takes responsibility for the heating bills during the winter, and the rent checks are steady. Other owners will move more aggressively towards nightly rentals, tuning up their online presence and marketing, and making sure they have high-dollar holiday bookings well secured.

Some sellers are reducing their prices or are moving into a short sale listing position. Some sellers with equity remaining are heeding the media reports of more foreclosures to come and growing “shadow inventory” and aggressively reducing their asking prices. And some sellers just don’t care; they either fall into the category of “don’t have to sell,” “we’ll wait,” or “we’ve just stop making payments.”

And some buyers just want to forget all the BS life is throwing at them and want to come skiing. Many of those buyers remain focused on the REO inventory. But there is also good, ready-to-use condo inventory in the $300K =/- range. Just find a reasonable seller and a financeable project… Still, showing property to potential buyers in Mammoth remains frustrating–there is plenty of junk out there.  And finally, some buyers are beginning to take the Steve Jobs attitude; “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.”

Noteworthy Sales

The sale of Westin Monache units ranging from $155,001 to $427,107. These were closings from the summer auction. Rumor has it they were delayed closings due to some title issues. These prices seem relatively low so the “auction magic” for (higher) pricing didn’t happen. Maybe the consumer is getting wise. But potential buyers of units at the Westin Monache are beginning to sharpen their pencils, because if these prices go much lower there begins to be “investment potential.” But others are waiting to see if values come down further, and what level of hotel business this winter brings, and where the common area fees are going to go once Intrawest is out of the picture.

The sale of 26 Lupin for $293,699. This was an REO sale of a historic 5 bedroom / 2 bath house just behind the commercial zoning on Main St., on a large half acre lot. This home was old and had at one time been a bed and breakfast facility. Apparently the new owners plan to make it a lodging facility for snow boarders (?).

The sale of 1849 #611 for $381,000 cash. This REO 3 bedroom plus den / 3 bath unit had good access to Canyon Lodge and nice views of the Sherwins and lots of sun. Originally priced at $369,000, this was a multiple bid scenario, and obviously an overbid.

The sale of Snowcreek #288 for $482,500. This 2 bedroom plus loft / 2 bath townhome features a truly spectacular meadow, creek, pond setting and panoramic views of the Sherwins. Nothing really special about the interior, but a special location, and worthy of a high price.

The sale of a vacant lot on Ridgecrest Drive for $170,000. This flat lot with good sun and views on a great street in the Slopes found the bottom in this very slow segment of the market.
Beyond that, a lot of ho-hum sales…

Other Real Estate News

Decent amounts of early fall snowfall already has many locals wondering if Mammoth is settling into a new climate pattern that is 8-and-a-half months of winter and 3-and-a-half months of summer. It sure is beginning to feel that way. That’s a great weather pattern for a ski resort, but sure makes day-to-day living in Mammoth tougher all the time. No wonder many locals have second homes and/or motor homes. Or think about moving on…

Despite all the controversy and questions, the additional (temporary) terminal building at Mammoth Airport is under construction. Visualize one of the hard shell tents at Eagle Base. This facility seems rather important in the progression of more flights (including Orange County and San Diego) this year. Now that we have those flights, we can’t jeopardize the program with poor service levels.

Permits are in process for the demolition of more of Mammoth’s old landmarks, and it seems the owners are anxious to get the work completed by the end of the year. Included are the old Swiss Chalet and Royal Pines motels up on Viewpoint Road and the La Sierra building on Main St.. There are no immediate development plans likely in these locations but it certainly speaks to the micro-economics of the community. I think I’ll cover that in more detail in and upcoming Broker’s Report.

Nothing like shorter days, a lowering sun and early snowfall to trigger the mind to think of skiing!!

Thanks for reading!

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