Market Summary: October 28 – November 11

The Mammoth MLS is reporting 12 closings in the past two weeks in Mammoth Lakes ranging from a low of $87,000 to a high of $700,000 (2). The sales data reports two (2) REO/bank owned property closings and two (2) short sale closing. For the period, 7 of the closings were under $251,000.

Housing Inventory

At the period’s end there are 145 condominiums listed for sale, another decrease of eight (8) over the previous newsletter. The inventory of single-family homes decreased by six (6) to 47. Residential lots listed for sale decreased by five (5) to 34.

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes decreased to 89.  Of the 89 properties in “pending,” 26 are “contingent short sales” and 17 are in “back-up” status. The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) decreased by five to 117.

Market Updates and News

The national election and hoopla took center stage the past two weeks so I guess we’re lucky anyone even paid attention to Mammoth real estate. The good news is there is enough new (natural) snow on Mammoth Mountain to get ski and snowboard enthusiasts excited. The 30-day forecast predicts intermittent cold but modest storms for the rest of the month. This isn’t “dumpage” but the type of storms that the Ski Area seems to wring a couple of feet out of. Local reservation companies are casually reporting “nobody is calling about anything but the holidays.”

While the election results still have many people a little “glazed over” the now mainstream referred-to fiscal cliff issues might be of more impact to Mammoth real estate than who is actually in office (but that is yet to be determined). And the California “super-majority” in the legislature may have more impact than anything nationally. Let’s face it, Mammoth is the playground and second home destination for people impacted by the likely tax increases across the board.

Conversely, they are also the ones who historically move money from their stock market portfolios into real estate, and more of that may happen in the next year. The uncertainty continues, but now with a little more insult.

The actual “in the ground” construction of Digital 395 is happening in the Mammoth area. This may not seem like a big deal but ALL new homeowners and business people cannot get new Internet service in Mammoth Lakes. There simply isn’t the bandwidth. (Good) Internet service has become gold, at least for now. Recent real estate transactions have been conditioned by the transfer of existing service to new owners. So the fiber optic lines are being laid locally along Hwy. 395 that will ultimately run from Barstow to Carson City.

Completion of that line is expected in the next 12 months. Meanwhile, another whole group is actively working on the “last mile” component. Many government entities will be the first to have the new access and then the entire community should have it. And wireless should get a whole lot better too. All of it “just in time” because this has become a BIG problem for many including second homeowners.

As far as real real estate items of note; there continues to be “yield seekers” perusing the Mammoth market. They dig deeply into nightly rental scenarios, endless questions about how to improve revenues and profitability, etc. without any concept or questions about using the the property for enjoyment, recreation or relaxation. I work quickly to sort through these because they are not Mammoth buyers, just random people thinking (hoping) Mammoth is a market with potential return on investment to match (or better) other “investment” markets.

As one of my old associates use to say, “Next!”… I’ve been out showing a ton of property the last month and the slowest part of the condo market is 2 bedroom condo hotel units. Many potential buyers have been sniffing around the 2 bedroom units at the Westin. The only two that have been available were short sales in the less-than-desirable “46” stack. They sat there all summer. Now both are under contract. But there are 11 (by my count) other 2 bedroom units available from JSL to the Village. Some of them are top-drawer units…

Foreclosure activity has ticked up slightly after the summer lull. Many of the current Trustee’s Sales are cancelled and immediately re-issued with new dates and paperwork. Fannie Mae has remained consistently active. Some outsourcers are now utilizing auction methods with asset managers in India. Buyers and their agents can expect MASSIVE levels of frustration if entering one of these deals. Buyers need to make sure the title work is complete and (relatively) accurate. Now that the election is over we may just see some of the shadow inventory coming out of the shadows…

Noteworthy Sales

The two largest sales of the period were side-by-side lots in the Bluffs at $700K each. These are both located on the Pine Street loop and large(drop-off) lots with minimal street frontage. Another example of a very high-end buyer with plans for something special (and costly) in mind.

Another low-end residential lot picked off, this time a cul-de-sac lot in the Knolls that is adjacent to Forest Service land and flat. Sold for $142,000. Now the good residential lots under $200K are essentially  gone, for now.

For those who watch the Hot Creek hangars at the airport, a Corporate I hangar, one of the big ones down at the east end, closed for $215,000. That is less than the original Executive II hangars were selling for. That was a good buy. Nice place to park your jet.

A couple of closing at Snowcreek 5 with both selling at good prices for the market. Values are historically down but there are no signs of desperation or major price erosion.

Other Real Estate News

Mammoth Mountain CEO Rusty Gregory made an unanticipated speech at last Wednesday’s Town Council meeting that left many quite perplexed. Local media and other observers described it from “jaw-dropping” to “vague.” Some felt it was right out of the 12-Step handbook. He is quoted, “I am the impediment to the growth and prosperity of our resort community” and “We have to fundamentally change, and the Mountain will fundamentally change, I promise you that.” And to the business community, “The Mountain will not compete with you. We’re going to collaborate to build a great experience.”

All of this on the heels of the MLLA settlement that many in the community place primary blame on Gregory’s influence in the grand scope of matters many years ago. But Gregory appears to want to move FORWARD and the best way to satisfy the debt is to “grow ourselves out of the problem.”  He suggests the Mountain become part of a town-wide Business Improvement District (BID) and shift MMSA marketing dollars to help fund their share of the BID. That in turn asks local businesses to come up with their own dollars. I say; good timing for that when most of the restaurant, retailers, reservation people and others are still reeling from the general economy and the drought winter of 2012.

Meanwhile, in The Sheet, one local business owner said, “He (Rusty) is just trying to distract the Town from looking more closely at a lift ticket tax.” (I’m not the one responsible for that quote! lol) It’s too early to tell where all of this will go, just more good entertainment for Mammoth aficionados. Maybe it’s a good time to go back and read something I wrote six-and-half years ago… A Long Road To Aspen.

Thanks for reading!

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