Market Summary: April 22 – May 7

The Mammoth MLS reports 11 sales/closings in Mammoth Lakes for the period ranging from a low of $115,000 to a high of $1,543,000. The sales data reports NO REO/bank owned property closings and four (4) short sale closings (there were four REO out-of-Mammoth closings). One of the short sale closings was another high-end property. There are no more of these high-end residential properties being listed as pending short sales. In fact, there are no more $1M+ homes listed as short sale offerings in Mammoth Lakes at this time.

What was reported as “a slow real estate period” in the last newsletter has become the real estate doldrums here in Mammoth. Most local real estate agents have begun taking time off and out-of-the-area vacations. It is simply that time of year. Back in the 1970’s the Mammoth real estate brokers would take the whole summer off and vacation in faraway places. But that was before Mammoth became a summer destination resort.

Housing Inventory

At the period’s end there are 161 condominiums listed for sale, basically a push. There are now 55 single-family homes on the market in Mammoth Lakes proper, a slight decrease from the last period. There are 34 residential lots listed for sale. These numbers are stagnant BUT there have been new listings brought to the market in the past two weeks. But the end of April saw numerous listings expire and fall out of the MLS. There is still no immediate seasonal (and typical) inventory increase. At least not yet.

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is 59, a small decrease. Of the 59 properties in “pending,” 28  are “contingent short sales” which means they are pending short sale transactions. (Again, these properties show as active listings to anyone looking at IDX MLS information.) The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) decreased to 80.

Market Updates and News

There is really nothing new to report about the potential Town of Mammoth Lakes bankruptcy. We appear to be in a confidential mediation phase. This all has to come to a head soon. They call it postponing the inevitable.

The foreclosure activity has slowed to a snail’s pace, the slowest in the past four years. This office is catching up from the pace. But there are literally properties in Mammoth Lakes that HAVE been foreclosed on and the owners continue to reside in the property and the new owner (bank) simply isn’t moving towards relocation or eviction of the prior owner. It has become simple administrative constipation. Other foreclosed properties take weeks to be assigned to outsourcers and/or agents (that use to take less than 24 hours). But the filing of Notice of Defaults picked back up in the past two weeks.

Meanwhile, existing Trustee’s Sales continue to be postponed or canceled (and there is no reason to believe these properties have suddenly become un-distressed). AND there is evidence in the past few weeks that maybe a new door has opened–the deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. In this ever-changing environment maybe the banks are beginning to  offer “deals” for DILs. We’ll see. Maybe all part of the “Big Settlement” between the Feds and big banks.

A May 4th press release from the Town titled “TOT Enforcement and Revenue Collection Update” states: $70,000 in new TOT revenues since the program began Last August, 178 total enforcement cases, 9 new cases in the last two weeks, 90 cases closed with 64 of those determined to be legal and possessing valid licenses, 70 cases still open AND “staff is now processing assessments to capture escaped TOT revenues.” That shall be interesting! Having sat through enough property tax appeals these TOT appeals should be exciting. The press release also assure that these enforcement efforts shall continue in earnest. What would a normal winter have brought??

Noteworthy Sales

Some pretty ho-hum sales during the period but two definitely standout. The first is a bluff situated town home with truly spectacular views. This is an older condominium project that has been well maintained. The specific property was nothing special except for the view. If we look at the very recent sales data within the same project, we should be able to reasonably place a value of $150,000 (and maybe more) on just the view. That’s amazing! In the past we’ve always considered a $10-20K premium for a special view, sometimes up to $50K. But $150K+? This continues to be a baby boomer driven market and if “you got it” and “you want it”… I have an equal view listed at TimberRidge Condos for far less of a premium… anybody??

The second (and very positive) noteworthy sale is that of Angel’s restaurant on Main St. This was a commercial short sale. Angel’s has been a Mammoth favorite for decades. The most recent owners (seller’s in this case) operated the restaurant well but the debt from the mid-2000’s purchase was crushing. The new owners are the owners of the Convict Lake Resort and they are already starting a remodel and promise to keep a similar concept. Hitting the re-set button can be a very good thing.

Other Real Estate News

The general public is beginning to realize that there are numerous potential tax changes coming in 2013. And a messy Presidential, Senate and House election isn’t likely to change what’s coming. The most interesting one for Mammoth is the potential rise in capital gains tax. Mammoth still has many historic and legacy owners with plenty of appreciated equity.

Many of these properties fall into the “seldom used” category. Some of these owners are now seeing a tax-advantaged strategy to liquidate before the end of the year. This may help bump the inventory in the second half. Interestingly, some of these potential properties/listings have unique or cherished locations, but buyers shouldn’t expect them to have granite counter tops and retrofitted fireplaces.

Also, the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act sunsets on Dec. 31, 2012. This too could get lost in the shuffle. Those homeowners facing foreclosure or short sale are going to realize the ramifications of having their “event” occur after the sunset of this Act. It’s called a 1099.

As “they” say, things are going to get even more interesting…

Thanks for reading!

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