Market Summary: June 16 – June 30

The Mammoth MLS is reporting 10 closings in Mammoth Lakes for the period (last two weeks) ranging from a low of $185,000 to a high of $950,000. The sales data reports two (2) REO/bank owned property closings and NO short sale closings. The “very interesting summer” is moving into motion, in more ways than one.

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end there are 107 condominiums listed for sale in Mammoth Lakes. That is four (4) MORE than two weeks go. Several new condo listings came to the market and some were pounced on quickly. And then there was/is the rush by potential sellers and their agents to get the properties on the market before the big holiday period which is then followed by the popular Jazz Jubilee…

Single Family Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes increased slightly again to 53. There are still eight (8) single-family homes listed under $500,000 including four “A” frame or gambrel-style homes and one small cabin. The market appears to be resisting these low-end offerings, at least for now.

Residential Lot Inventory

Residential lots listed for sale are down but now stable at 35.

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes increased by three (3) to 72. Of the 72 properties in “pending,” 14 are “contingent short sales” and 29 are in “back-up” status. The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) decreased to 95. The lower number of actual closings is more indicative of the period; we’re 30-60 days (the usual time to close a standard escrow) out from the late spring slower selling period which is rather typical in Mammoth.

Market Updates and News

Tourism is up significantly in Mammoth. Both empirically and as reported by the media. According to the Town, room occupancies and revenue were up by a large percentage in May compared to a year ago. June’s numbers were looking similar so far. This is interesting considering the spring ski season was a complete bust. The crowds in town the past two weeks have been impressive. Last weekend’s half-marathon and Old Mammoth Road Wine Walk were both inaugural events and were very well attended. This weekend the professional motocross is in town and for the 45th annual event with the first time ever as an American Motocross Assoc. (AMA) sanctioned event. These races have been ongoing for the past 10 days.

With the 4th of July falling on a Thursday, the town is likely to booked solid all week. And the heat is definitely driving folks into the cool(er) Sierra. The following weekend is the 25th annual Jazz Jubilee. Events are stacked-up for the whole summer. And a monster mountainbike event is returning to Mammoth, the “Kamikaze Bike Games” is scheduled for the week after Labor Day. Why has summer become so popular?

It is a fabulous time to be here, the weather is great and people have access to all of the beautiful areas. The events only get better and better. But it is a slower pace than winter, it is about family and relaxation. The expectations are lower but the quality of the total experience surprises many. Hopefully, we don’t screw it up.

The TBID (tourism-based business improvement district) is scheduled for a Town Council vote this next week. I’m betting it is a done deal. Mammoth needs more marketing for more tourism, right? This last week I found myself standing in long lines at Rite Aid (gotta buy beer and ice cream) and at VONS and I was observing a whole variety of visitors buying everything from diapers to stacks of rib eye steaks. I’ve come to the conclusion that they couldn’t care less if Mammoth dings them a few cents or dollars on their purchases; they all appeared just damned-glad to be here and not sitting in traffic on some So Cal freeway.

MMSA CEO Rusty Gregory’s “big” announcement about him “no longer being CEO” turned out to be noise and not signal. No real changes; a re-aligned management team, he remains as CEO, “we’re going to get past the acrimony,” blah, blah. Thirty plus years ago we had an 11th Commandment in Mammoth; Don’t set yourself up for disappointment…

The new Mammoth fireplace ordinance goes into “reality” at midnight tonight. But there appears to be new confusion. And the real estate industry is stuck right in the middle of it. It appears that at least one local (and VERY experienced) installer has found woodburning fireplace inserts (and use triple wall flue pipe) that can satisfy the building department and fire departments new requirements without ripping the whole existing fireplace down for inspection.

Unfortunately, the TOML building department is really only one person today and he is too busy running around to be completely on top of it. This does have significant financial ramifications when negotiating some deals today. I expect it to be a moving target for some time… should be fun explaining all of this to buyers and sellers.

The pre-holiday-week-broker-open-house-caravan this last Thursday had numerous properties and most of the agents were out. Some were caught talking out of both sides of their mouth depending on what position they were supporting; “prices are going up”… “prices are going down”… always good entertainment. (But see below, it is hard to really know where prices are going.)

Excuse my excitement over the “Digital 395” fiber optic coming into Mammoth! It now appears that within the month we can expect an unlimited amount of “basic” 15mbps service via cable or dsl at the same price we are currently paying. Speeds of 30 or 60mbps will be available as an upgrade. As perspective, I am “lucky” because I have a longstanding dsl account which provides 5 to 6 mbps. Soon everybody will have all they want (and can afford). Now if all of this translates to improved cell service, especially when there are crowds in town, then Mammoth will have “arrived.”

Noteworthy Sales

The selling prices are going up… and going down. And there are sales to prove it…

The sale of MeadowRidge Condos #5 for $240,000. This REO 2 bedroom + loft / 2 bath townhome can’t make the property owners in that project happy. This is a nice property overlooking the pool. The project is well maintained. This might have been a case of bad timing for the institutional seller too. The property came to the market as the drought winter was winding down. Then the listing was sent to auction. As I have stated before, the online auction process has not proved to be effective at maximizing value in the Mammoth marketplace. And there is just too much value in a live agent selling the “features and benefits” of a property. But oh well, the buyer got a good buy. Hopefully, the appraisers won’t hang there hats on that sale.

The sale of Snowcreek #909 at $385,000. This is an early phase 2 bedroom / 2 bath 1-car garage townhome in Phase 5. Yes, the older floor plan and dated, but nice view. Cheap price, goos buy.

And then there are sales that indicate prices are going up; a 1 bedroom at JSL overlooking the ski run for $242,000, a 3 bedroom at Solstice for $415,000, a Mammoth Ski & Racquet 1 + loft for $245,000, a new Creekhouse for $830,000, and an older home on Holiday Way for $950,000.

Other Real Estate News

A recent Washington Post article (and other media outlets) were reporting that several banks and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are now starting to move on many of the “strategic defaulters” of the past few years. Those with recourse loans who allowed their loans to foreclose are now in the crosshairs. So much for walking away with just a credit ding.

Apparently part of the strategy is the banks are selling off large portfolios of recourse notes to collection agency-type entities. And some are partnering with them too. As this evolves the decision for some owners to short sell or deed-in-lieu will become more compelling.

“Mal-investment” is becoming a more frequently used term and concept in the financial world these days. I especially see it here in Mammoth in the investment/income property segment of the market. But also in the condo (rental) segment too. The inquiries come in daily. People are still “chasing yield” and as I have pointed out repeatedly, Mammoth is a poor place to seek hard core return-on-investment. (The expenses are too high and turn-over/vacancy is too high.) But there are still believers, and some local agents gladly play the hand.

But there is a new irony; as these “investors” keep pushing for it, the mal-investors of the past are finding new believers to purchase their properties. Some call it the “greater fool” theory. I’m seeing it happen more frequently here in Mammoth. Desperate yield chasers are buying the junky investments of the past and the sellers have to be delighted. Indeed, more real estate entertainment… and yes, it is an interesting summer already.

Thanks for reading!

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