Market Summary: January 6 – January 20

The Mammoth MLS is reporting 10 closings in Mammoth Lakes for the period ranging from a low of $185,000 to a high of $632,000. That is seven (7) fewer closings than the previous period. The sales data reports one (1) REO/bank owned property closing and three (3) short sale closings.

Housing Inventory

At the period’s end there are 125 condominiums listed for sale, down another three (3) from the previous newsletter. The inventory of single-family homes is less one at 42. Residential lots listed for sale are at 28. The slow decline of total inventory continues. But there are new properties coming to the market, although during this last period they were sporting larger asking prices.

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes increased by 11 to 62. Of the 62 properties in “pending,” 15 are “contingent short sales” and 13 are in “back-up” status. The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) increased by 22 to 94. Many potential buyers are writing offers, only a fraction are going to contract. An unusual but solid level of activity for January.

Market Updates and News

Mammoth winter tourism remains strong through January. The MLK Weekend is busy and the weather is warm and sunny. Mammoth Mtn. will need more snow but for now the skiing and riding are excellent. We hear of  “less-than-great” snow conditions at other ski resorts, so Mammoth is grateful.

Like I said, the Mammoth real estate market is busy for this time of year. January is usually a time for “post holiday decompression” as I like to call it but we haven’t seen much of it this January. (I was really hoping to sneak away for a fishing trip, forget that.) But the most important thing I see; there is no specific trend in which way selling prices are going. Interesting. I can point to some sales that are high(er), and I can point to some sales that are low(er). Lots of interesting price discovery going on, or not…

Long-time readers know I like to speak of Mammoth’s “segments” in the real estate market. No particular segment is standing out. They also know that some properties are “winter-oriented sales” and some are not. There is no specific focus in the market here either. And I have no explanation for the sense of urgency we are experiencing. Maybe it is just the good snow and everybody is happy.

Some buyers looking to finance are already getting caught in the “tax limbo”; the lenders want their 2012 taxes completed to qualify them for the loan. And for most, it is just too early. This will cause hiccups in the next couple of months for both buyers and sellers. A buyer pre-approval doesn’t necessarily guarantee the lender won’t require the new tax filing.

There were some new REOs brought to the market during the period and the asset managers appear to be playing “highest bidder” rather than “horse race.” We just never know. They list the property and don’t respond to offers, then they decide they “won’t respond to offers for 10 days” (after it is first listed). Or seven days. The potential buyers are confused, and the agents get confused. Or they want to put it on an auction website. Or?… for more on the foreclosure market see my latest post Mammoth Foreclosures 8.0.

The new owners of Mammoth’s two big fractional/club/residence/luxury projects, Tallus and 80/50, are moving into high gear to promote sales. And their timing is perfect. Tallus is now owned by Chase Merritt, a privately owned real estate asset management company from Newport Beach with strong ties to Telluride. The 80/50 project will soon become a member of the nationally respected Auberge brand (and we all hope they dump the “80/50” name which was simply derived from the elevation of the site and not some rumored financial arrangement at the project).

The Auberge is a fully functional facility although they do have room to expand. Tallus has already upgraded the existing homes and is working on completing the remaining uncompleted homes. Both these projects fell into receivership and were  ultimately acquired at deep discount. The new owners are confident their new pricing and programs will be attractive to buyers. Both are great projects and it is valuable for the community to have them both putting their best (new) foot forward.

Noteworthy Sales

The REO closing of Sunflower #6 at $185,000. This 2 bedroom / 2 bath, 1-car garage town home was a head scratcher for me. I showed this property numerous times when it was originally priced at $209,000. And once it was sold (under contract), then a bunch of buyers became interested. Maybe it was the location? (and NOT in the Ghetto). But all the low-end buyers clamor for a garage and side-by-side washer/dryer area. So here it was along with two good-sized bedrooms and baths including walk-in closets and corner windows. Nice sunny living room with vaulted wood ridge-and-rafter ceiling. The garage was single-car but large and long. The buyer got great utility for the price. Super crashpad potential. You can lead a horse…

The sale of Westin Monache #346 at $407,000. I showed this property all summer and nobody liked the uncertainty of the location. This is the corner 2 bedroom / 2 bath floorplan that now everybody seems to want, at least until the price gets driven up. The key to this floorplan is the full kitchen. It was a short sale but short sales are pretty damn doable these days even on a property like this. Where is the short sale hardship in a luxury-branded successful rental?? What a market…

The sale of Lincoln House #3326 at $435,000. This 2 bedroom / 2 bath unit overlooks the pond and pool area in the Village. Nice location but not top floor, and no sun or mountain views. Sold for $436 per square foot.

Other sales; higher prices on Seasons Four, The Trails, Hooper town homes, and mid-range homes in the Slopes. Good buys in The Lodges and Mountainback.

Other Real Estate News

Maybe Mammoth’s most valuable real estate?; the geothermal plant(s) at the bottom of Hwy. 203 that are often spewing steam into the air and for many Mammoth visitors signifies “arrival.” But now it is becoming the contentious story of 2013 and maybe beyond. The previously approved major facilities replacement has become the subject of a major CEQA lawsuit. And now the Town is beginning to question the safety of some of the above ground piping they allowed in the Shady Rest area.

Meanwhile, there is pressure to expand the geothermal energy production at “Casa Diablo.” It is an extremely valuable (and profitable) resource. There may be a bigger deal on the horizon. But everybody wants a piece of it.

I was up skiing this past week in lovely sunny weather and the local residents I was randomly riding the chairlifts with were all commenting about how cold it had been (and they were glad it had warmed up). That was quite the cold spell we, and the rest of California, had. It got me thinking about those kind of temperatures in the Rockies and other places. Most of us with California blood don’t like those temps, and certainly not as we get older. Between the sun, the mild temperatures, and the elevation that delivers us solid snow amounts, Mammoth still has a big winning hand.

Thanks for reading!

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