Market Summary: January 15 – January 29

The Mammoth MLS reports 14 sales/closings in Mammoth Lakes for the period ranging from a low of $75,000 to a high of $525,000. A total of four (4) of the closing were REO properties and three (3) were short sales. The highest priced sale of the period is a residential lot in a ski-in ski-out subdivision (in a market where residential lot sales are few and far between).

Housing Inventory

At the period’s completion there are 167 condominiums listed for sale, another slight increase. There are 59 single-family homes on the market in Mammoth Lakes proper, another slight uptick. There are now 36 residential lots listed for sale including two awesome side-by-side lots in the Bluffs that have not been on the market together before.

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) decreased to 90. January would be expected to be a slow month for sales but this office has put nine (9) REO properties to escrow this month. Most were new-to-the-market in January.

Market Updates and News

Just when Mammoth was in dire need for snow, it came. The town and Mountain received up to five feet of snow last weekend. Talk about a “save the bacon” storm. But now the weather pattern has turned back to warm sunny days all through the long range forecast. This is becoming more and more reminiscent of 1991 when the pattern was like this until March and then we received 200 inches in a month. But that year the Mountain was just experimenting with snowmaking. Let’s hope we get that kind of volume again and soon.

Despite it being January, real estate sales remain busy in Mammoth. The interest level is abnormally high for this time of year and especially considering the lack of substantial snowpack. Potential buyers are a bit frustrated by the lack of inventory. The lack of inventory on the low end of the condo market is especially noticeable. New, decent listing get gobbled up quickly. But the quintessential “crash pad” buyers (pass holders) are here and looking. Maybe they will learn to come and look in summer when the inventory is more plentiful and listings are competing against each other.

Foreclosure activity (actual Trustee Sales) has slowed, but again that could be attributed to a post-holiday lag. Notice of Default activity remains steady, so expect continued activity from the distressed property segment of the market. The REOs and short sales remain the most actively pursued properties in the market.

The modern flow of Homeowner Association documents during an escrow continues to be a significant protection for sellers and brokers alike. The production of these documents by the Association’s accountant and their passing from there to escrow and then to the buyer is a much improved scenario from the past when their collection was scattered, incomplete and unreliable. Today, the buyer has only himself to blame for not being aware of the state of affairs within a HOA. Conversely, I have seen several recent instances where buyers have used the scrutiny of the HOA information to renegotiate the value of the property. “Caveat emptor” remains an important principle in real estate.

Noteworthy Sales

The sale of Juniper Springs Lodge #540, a 1 bedroom / 1 bath REO for $218,750. This is a top floor unit with views to Mammoth Crest. This was good timing for the buyer. The bank’s appraisal was based on summer (low or no) sales. This particular bank also moves very slowly with paperwork and overall process, so plenty of delay. Recent sales of inferior units have been approx. 10% higher. Bring this to the market today and it might sell for $250K.

The sale of Solstice #22 (door #22) a 2 bedroom / 2 bath REO condo for $230,000. This is one Intrawest’s last projects in Mammoth and located on the Sierra Star golf course. This is not a condo hotel project but does require a cash buyer due to outstanding litigation. The major objection for potential buyers is the high common area fees but those fees do include the heating and hot water. For an almost new unit this is just a bargain basement price. Once all the dust settles we may look back at these types of purchases and wish…

The sale of 66 Sugar Pine for $500,000. This is a smaller, but very clean and well located 4 bedroom / 2 bath, 2-car garage home. The closing was a prolonged short sale war but ended up being a great buy for the buyer. Plenty of buyers want “screaming deals” but most can’t/won’t put up with this type of emotional roller coaster and uncertainty.

Other Real Estate News

Just some blips on the radar; Watching the State of the Union address made me think back to recent election years and the correlation to the Mammoth real estate market; 2008 was the beginning of the steep decline, 2004 and 2000 were crazy upswings, 1996 was the start of the Intrawest era and was full of promise but the market still declined in the following years, 1992 was dismal, 1988 was the start of a small upswing… So I think the general economy prevails over any election year juice, 2012 remains a wild card.

This weekend there were at least seven (7) high-end jets (not fractional) parked at the Mammoth airport. More than I’ve seen in quite some time. Maybe the “Rusty’s letter” syndrome really is happening in Mammoth–fewer visitors but more spenders.

Look for the Tallus project to come back to life. The new owner is well on his way to restructuring the fractional program and the future of the project, etc. Just too nice of a project (and location) to sit there incomplete and deteriorating. This office wishes them well.

Thanks for reading!

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