Market Summary: December 4 – December 18

Mammoth Lakes Multiple Listing Service reports 15 sales/closings (one less than last period) in Mammoth for the period ranging from a low of $120,000 to a high of $1,250,000. Three of the closings were bank owned or REO properties and one closing was a successful short sale.

At the period’s end there are 178 condominiums listed for sale, another decline from last period. There are 59 single-family homes on the market in Mammoth Lakes proper (a decline of one). There are 39 residential lots listed for sale.

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes decreased to 81. Total number of pendings in the Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) is currently 102 (another decrease).

Market Updates and News

The Mammoth real estate market is behaving rather normally with the holidays and year-end activities taking precedent in most minds. But my prediction is with less-than-stellar snow conditions on Mammoth Mountain and the holiday crowds already booked and paid for, that the visitors will be poking around the real estate market at a greater than normal pace. Personally, I would like to enjoy some of the holidays because the past few months have been very busy, but I know my phone will be ringing, and living in a resort town for 30 years means you work during the holidays. So if you are here and want to see or talk real estate, by all means…

The informal moratorium on foreclosure activity between Thanksgiving and New Year’s appears to be in place although there have been a few executed foreclosures since the past reporting period. But I doubt they would foreclose on an owner occupied property. There are still 21 Trustee’s Sales scheduled between now and the end of the year in Mono County. The existing REO inventory will be hot showing property the next couple of weeks because they are vacant and the town will be full. They are easy shows so again, if you are here and want to see one or all, don’t hesitate to call.

Meanwhile, closing some of these REO transactions has become tedious. The bank/sellers are just sitting on paperwork, especially the grant deeds (pretty hard to close without the grant deed). Buyers are anxious to get in these properties and prepare them for holiday and winter usage. Or maybe the banks are just backed up so much… we are managing a nice little inventory of REOs that should come to the market soon, but the delays are frustrating. Managing these properties in the winter, especially in a winter like last winter, becomes a bit ridiculous. More of the “controlled burn.”

I’m seeing an increase in interest for single-family home lots in the past few weeks with some properties actually going to contract. With price support in junky homes sticking in the low $300K range, buyers are not considering these properties “tear downs” but “fixers.” So the opportunity to build new really only makes sense on an unimproved lot, and while that segment of the market is soft right now it is also the scarcest of all segments in Mammoth, and no real new residential subdivisions are planned or zoned for. We’ll see if investment dollars begin to flow that way.

Noteworthy Sales

The sale of an Eagle Run 2 bedroom / 2 bath for $350,000. This price is less than the recent REO sale, and this was not a REO or short sale; just an owner who had equity and wanted out. This really is a bargain price for a true ski-in ski-out property, but clearly the construction defect litigation and “cash buyer only” position has tainted values. This is far below the original selling price in 2002.

The REO sale of Discovery Four #155 for $130,000. The original 70’s Dempsey-built 2 bedroom / 2 bath floorplan. This property was originally listed near $200K but sat on the market all summer and the price drifted down and was negotiated to this point. And while the property was in escrow the sub-$150K condo inventory essentially dried up.

The sale of a large and very nice (but dated) home “behind the gate” in the Snowcreek Ranch for $1,250,000. Now the appraisers don’t like us using a “square foot” analysis for homes in Mammoth, they like making adjustments (and getting paid for their adjustments). But almost every buyer I come across these days is making a cost-per-square assessment when trying to establish value. It is a pretty valid “quick and dirty” method, but then you do need to look at valid adjustments. This home sold for $326 per foot. And that is about the market rate for a quality built home in an upscale neighborhood. And another example of buying below replacement value.

The sale of a REO home at 209 Mill St. for $340,000. This 1965 built home on a substandard road in Old Mammoth verifies what I said above residential price support.

The sale of the home at 49 Rusty Lane for $340,000. Another 60’s built home on a marginal lot. More verification.

Other Real Estate News

After the big winters of the past decade one might think that Mammoth Mountain may have ignored the effort and investment in their snowmaking system. But the recent evidence is the quite the opposite. The investment is about to pay off. And at least the weather has cooperated with cold temperatures.

The Ski Area is pumping like mad and making snow like never before. And new technology is helping out too. The economic value of the two weeks at Christmas and New Year’s is just too valuable to the Ski Area, the town and Town’s coffers, and the property owners who are looking for that premium rental revenue. With nothing but sun in the 10-day forecast, the snowmaking will save a lot of bacon. Yes, there will be many disappointed skiers and snowboarders, but this is a Serenity Prayer issue.

Also from the Mountain, the new Chair 5 opened Friday. Too bad the face of 5 is lacking quality snowpack, it would be a blast to make fast laps for the first time. But all in time…

Happy Holidays!!

Thanks for reading!

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