Market Summary: November 6 – November 20

Mammoth Lakes Multiple Listing Service reports 16 sales/closings in Mammoth for the period ranging from a low of $85,000 to a high of $825,000. Six of the closings were bank owned or REO properties. Only one closing was a successful short sale.

At the period’s end there are 189 condominiums listed for sale, a further decline (which is typical for this time of year). There are 60 single-family homes on the market in Mammoth Lakes proper (a small decline). The 4 cabins on Forest Service leases in the Lakes Basin are now only viewable by snowshoe or cross country ski. There are 41 lots residential lots listed for sale.

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes increased to 92. Total number of pendings in the Mammoth MLS is currently 108 (another increase).

Market Updates and News

Clearly, there is a small pre-winter sales push going on in Mammoth. And the strongest activity is in the bank-owned property sector. But that appears to be true in almost all markets in California. In the last few days I was told by an out-of-town mortgage broker that a transaction “had to close” because the cleaning crew was coming and everything had to be ready for Thanksgiving.

He spoke like this was some divine revelation. But that is what happens this time of year; the mad rush. Some buyers are so desperate to get in before the holiday(s). Or to capture the holiday rental. Why didn’t they just buy in late summer so everything would be set? Oh, that’s right, they were at the River. So spend the holidays on an inflatable bed, ski and paint, party and plan. It’s all par for the course this time of year.

Noteworthy Sales

The sale of 515 Forest Trail for $310,00. This bank owned 3 bedroom/2 bath, home is the epitome of the hot market in Mammoth lately. Low-end ($300K +/-) bank owned, distressed properties in need of fixing up, and for the most part needing cash buyers. In fact, most of these properties need plenty of fixing up and that takes even more cash. At some point these new owners should be able to refinance, but this part of the market excludes most buyers, especially local residents.

Speaking of small homes, a historic log cabin (823 sq ft) and garage (900 sq ft) in the “depths” of Old Mammoth sold for $284,5000. This is another example of strong price support in the low-end single family home market. This was purchased with conventional financing.

The sale of Eagle Run #105 for $361,000. This 2 bedroom/2 bath REO is a true ski-in ski-out property with panoramic views. Again, this sale required cash due to outstanding litigation between the project and the developer. This property sold at the peak of the market (spring 2006) for $930,000.

The sale of an up-sloping lot near the Ski Back trail for $165,000. This lot had been listed for years at much higher numbers, and at one time was listed for almost $1M. What is surprising is that this is the second such up-sloping lot that has sold in the last month. Lot sales are slow and in a slow market I would expect that the most expensive lots to build on would sell last. But not so. What do I know?

One of the new Creekhouse (Snowcreek Phase 7) units sold for $367/sq ft.

One of the premier 2 bedroom/2 bath units at the Westin Monache closed for $560,000.

Other Real Estate News

As snow begins to fall, I beginning to think “OMM” is on lots of people’s minds. No that’s not an old fashioned meditation, it’s Occupy Mammoth Mountain… The whole Occupy movement and the violence and disruption around it highlights an old safeguard for many buyers of Mammoth real estate. For years buyers have looked at owning property in Mammoth for a multitude of reasons, but some also consider it an “escape hatch” in case things become unstable in Southern California. These owners consider Mammoth a “safe” community. Some may scoff at this, but 2012 may bring this into clearer focus.

One of Mammoth’s print media outlets ran a story this past week about a “new” proposal to establish a culinary school at the college here in Mammoth. The presentation was before the ML Planning Commission. This is not a new idea. Some 15 years ago (when I was on the Commission), Intrawest floated the idea that Mammoth’s college would make a perfect location for not only a culinary school but also a hotel management school. Of all the resorts Intrawest was involved with, Mammoth was the only one that has a college. It made plenty of sense back then and was another piece of Intrawest’s vision that was so compelling. But nothing really happened and the vision disappeared with Intrawest. Now this great concept is back. Let’s hope they can rally support.

The REO business has had me down working and understanding the Bishop real estate market the past few years. And last winter has left me wondering if I shouldn’t own a small home down there to “get out of the snow.” But most people don’t realize how tight the market in Bishop is; there is very little inventory and considerable demand. But there is an upper limit to affordability. The city has a similar problem to Mammoth–limited privately owned land and little hope for any more. Reminds me of my favorite new saying about the Mammoth real estate market; “the more you know the market the smaller it gets.”

Meanwhile, it is snowing good here in Mammoth today (Sunday, 11-20), 1-2 inches were forecast and we’ll get 1-2 feet. This will prop up Thanksgiving weekend, and the snow is coming straight down.

Thanks for reading!

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