Market Summary: December 18 – January 1

Mammoth Lakes Multiple Listing Service reports 19 sales/closings in Mammoth for the period ranging from a low of $62,525 to a high of $585,000. A total of eight closings were bank owned or REO properties and four closings were successful short sales. That higher volume of closed REO and short sale transactions during the period is indicative of the bank’s and investor’s desire to “get properties off the books” by year end.

Housing Inventory

At the period’s completion there are 159 condominiums listed for sale, another decline from last period. There are 54 single-family homes on the market in Mammoth Lakes proper (a decline of five). There are 33 residential lots listed for sale. Some of the declines in inventory can be attributed to year-end expired listings.

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes decreased to 74. Total number of pendings in the Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) is currently 95 (another decrease).

Market Updates and News

Overall interest in Mammoth real estate remains steady despite the time of year. The almost bizarre warm weather we have experienced the past month may be good or bad for the market. This weather is completely opposite from last year during this period. It has been almost summer-like the past month. The weather people say it was the driest December on record. Just sunny days and almost no wind. On one hand the lack of snow dampens the enthusiasm of potential buyers; there’s nothing like plentiful snow to get snow fiends excited. On the other hand those snow fiends have spent less time on the marginal ski conditions and have been poking around town looking at real estate.

Most buyers looking in the single-family home market recognize that current values are below replacement costs, especially in light of the new requirements for all new construction to have fire sprinklers. Even existing owners of single-family vacant lots are looking at the current home inventory and scratching their heads as to buy or build. But the quality inventory in this segment of the market is now getting snatched up quickly. And plenty of the old dogs are still sitting around.

But in the last month I am seeing more interest in vacant lots. Those values have come down. The owners not committed to building in the future are often becoming motivated sellers. Or they are looking to utilize a tax-deferred exchange to purchase an already improved property. Residential lots remain a scarce commodity especially since there are no future subdivisions in the Town’s General Plan.

As real estate consumers rely more and more on the variety of MLS/IDX (Internet Data Exchange) based websites for their Mammoth real estate information, there continues to be “false” inventory that misrepresents the true inventory. The false inventory are properties with a status of “Contingent Short Sale” that show as active in the IDX. These properties have contracts to purchase and are essentially off the market. But consumers are seeing them as available.

In fact, some of them are under contract for many months in the short sale process and the consumer believes the listing is just getting stale on the market. I’ve tried to change this but to no avail. I’ve had to explain this time-and-time again to potential buyers. It doesn’t give a true representation of the market.

The last day of the year brought a curious rash of price reductions in high-end homes… we’ll see why that is playing out.

Noteworthy Sales

The sale of 129 Convict Drive, a 3 bedroom / 2 bath 2-car garage home for $326,400 cash. This REO gambrel style home was in pretty rough condition. The inspection exposed the need for some major plumbing repairs, it needed a new roof (and the roof goes all the siding too), etc. This property is going to need some work and further investment. But it is a nice corner lot between the Village and Canyon Lodge. So why noteworthy?? This is a classic example of the single-family affordability demand. The structure could easily be considered a “tear-down.” The lot and location could certainly warrant it. But instead, there will be investment of tens of thousands of dollars to improve the property and make it “livable.” There remains strong demand in the $300-350K range for single-family homes in good locations but that are in need of serious repair.

The completed short sale of a Woodwinds 3 bedroom / 3 bath plus garage town home for $585,000. This was the last town home project completed by Intrawest in the Sierra Star golf course. This unit sold new in 2007, almost four years ago to the day, for $1,175,000.

The sale of White Mtn. Lodge #2404 for $350,000. This REO 2 bedroom / 2 bath condo hotel unit is located on the top floor overlooking the Ski Back trail bridge. At the peak of the market these units sold upwards of $800,000.

The completed short sale of a Studio / 1 bath at the Westin Monache for $140,000. Considering how rentable a unit like this is, these can almost be considered an “investment” at this point.

Other Real Estate News

The poor snow conditions relieved some of the Holiday demand for single-family rentals around Mammoth. This has postponed the much anticipated showdown between the Town and “illegal” rentals. Some have said “karma” was involved, but that could cut both ways. Some owners who heavily rely on Holiday rental revenue to offset expenses will have to go without the extra money. The Town will have to go without bed tax and the town in general will have to go without peak tourism dollars. The lack of quality snow conditions at the Holidays will have far reaching financial implications for many.

Meanwhile, some in Mammoth are relieved at the warm weather; last winter wore plenty of local residents down and many are gladly expecting lower and manageable snow removal costs. Basically, Mammoth experienced eight month of winter and now has experienced seven months of summer. Weird.

So while the Holiday crowds didn’t get epic ski conditions, they did experience fabulous weather and many families were seen strolling around town and quite frankly just relaxing. With no real mad rush to get to the Mountain, visitors actually decompressed. Hopefully, they had a great time regardless.

Happy New Year!!!

Thanks for reading!

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