Market Summary: May 6 – May 20

The Mammoth MLS is reporting 13 sales/closings in Mammoth Lakes for the period ranging from a low of $99,000 to a high of $1,148,000. The sales data reports 3 REO/bank owned property closings and 3 short sale closings, so back to the 50% +/- norm. This time one of the REO closings was high-end property $1M+ residence.

While many members of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard teams are here in Mammoth to train, life is VERY quiet here Mammoth. But it is the shoulder season after a lackluster winter. This broker has several clients coming up Memorial Day weekend (even though I won’t be here) to get the “last hurrah” of skiing and look at property. But most people are focused on the events of this time of year: graduations, weddings, etc. Real estate activity doesn’t normally pick up until 4th of July, and then only mildly.

Housing Inventory

The seasonal increase in inventory has begun, but at a snail’s pace. Most of the new listings are re-hash from last year, some are reducing prices and some are sticking to the prices of last year (maybe this is the year they’ll get “lucky”). At the period’s end there are 166 condominiums listed for sale, an increase of 5. There are now 61 single-family homes on the market in Mammoth Lakes proper, an increase of 6 from the last period. There are 39 residential lots listed for sale including nine (9) in the Bluffs ranging from $355,000 to $2,095,000. In my travels around town I see two new residential construction starts so far.

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is 56, another small decrease. Of the 56 properties in “pending,” 31  are “contingent short sales” (which means they are pending short sale transactions), which is a growing percentage. (I think I can interpret that as “short sales are taking more time than regular sales.”)  The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) decreased again to 77. I would say these small decreases are more seasonal norms than any telling market trend, but we’ll know more in a few months.

Market Updates and News

Again, there is really nothing new to report about the potential Town of Mammoth Lakes bankruptcy. The most recent rumor on the street is that there might be more litigation with the TOML as plaintiff. I have no idea. Only time will tell on this saga. But one potential buyer recently told me that “I can’t remember the BK in Orange County affecting my life one bit.” So…

The foreclosure segment of the market become more bizarre everyday. Yes, the foreclosure activity has slowed. But yes, the Notice of Default and published Trustee’s Sales activity is creeping back up. Meanwhile, there are now homes that have actually been foreclosed on where nothing is happening. Prior owners are now receiving even more “free” time in their properties.

The files must be simply lost or buried under stacks of other files. And many local residents who were able to negotiate loan modifications in the early stages of this downslide are now re-defaulting: being further under-water AND grossly underemployed doesn’t help. But their likely to get a couple of years of living for free if the trend continues. (I feel like a bigger fool every day for not seeing this opportunity.)

Another angle to this whole foreclosure and short sale market has been tossed at me: after mentioning the sunset of the Mortgage Forgiveness Act on 12-31-2012 in my last newsletter, one reader asked if this wasn’t a new tax ploy by the Federal government? In the past few years the Act kept millions of people from receiving 1099s on foreclosures and short sales that would have created substantial tax liability AND tax revenue. So at the end of the year with elections over (we hope) and government bills mounting, the 1099s will be issued and the taxes due.

Will this actually raise tax revenues or drive more people to bankruptcy? Currently distressed owners heading to foreclosure or contemplating a short sale might be wise to have it completed by the end of the year or face large tax liabilities. If the politicians don’t extend the Act then there could even be a rush to complete deed-in-lieu of foreclosures at the end of the year. That would be par for the course.

Noteworthy Sales

More ho-hum sales really… but one I like (and I wasn’t involved) is the sale of Snowcreek #523. This is all about location. Many buyers want a “home” and would never consider a condo, but these 500 series Snowcreek town homes are really awesome because most of the them have Mammoth Creek flowing by, and/ or ponds, and views of the riparian corridor, and often mountain views of some sort. This unit has 4 bedrooms and 3.5 baths (2,379 square feet of living) and a 2-car garage. It sold for $767,500. These original units are starting to look dated but they clean-up or remodel nicely–you certainly don’t have to move any walls. But it is all about the location and setting. This is what second homeowners should be dying for. But lately, similar units have been sitting on the market. Sometimes I just don’t understand.

The sale of 15 Ridge Way located in the Snowcreek Crest subdivision. This was a large REO residential property. This property got into a small bidding war and a Mammoth “move-up” buyer bought the home. All told 4 bedrooms plus loft plus office and 3.5 baths (3,443 square feet of living) and a 3-car garage. Massive great room and BIG view. Sold for $1,148,000.

Another 2 bedroom and 2 bath unit sold at the Westin Monache: a short sale originally listed at $375,000 closed at $417,000.

Other Real Estate News

The Digital 395 project is likely to break ground here in the Eastern High Sierra in the next 30 days. I haven’t seen it for myself but apparently the first legs of the 583-mile-long high-speed digital cable project are already under construction. The cable will stretch from Barstow to Reno. The project is slated for completion in July 2013. Once the cable is completed it will be incumbent upon the local Internet providers to complete the “last mile” installations. This can’t happen too fast (the Federal government is here to help us!).

Internet service in Mammoth Lakes has become abysmally slow even for us with DSL service. Anybody who relies on really high-speed Internet service becomes suicidal. Maybe we can get this done and start attracting some buyers from the Silicon Valley.

There won’t be a newsletter in two weeks, I’m heading out on vacation and I won’t be near a computer or Internet connection.

Thanks for reading!

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