Market Summary: August 25 – September 8

The Mammoth MLS is reporting 21 closings in Mammoth Lakes for the period ranging from a low of $102,5000 to a high of $1,245,000. That is nine (9) more closings than last period. Twelve of the sales were over the $400,000 mark including two home over $1M. There were no REO/bank owned property closings and two (2) short sale closings for the period. With fewer distressed properties being transacted, a more normalized real estate market continues in Mammoth.

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end there are 117 condominiums listed for sale in Mammoth Lakes, that is down five (5) from the last period. The market remains starved for attractive listings and inventory. And even though winter is looming the buyers appear to be becoming more patient. Or at least they are acting that way. There was a small rush of new listings prior to Labor Day weekend, but other listings are expiring. Wanna-be condo sellers who haven’t sold are now contemplating jumping into the seasonal long-term rental pool. The long-term rental demand appears very high. But do their crystal balls forecast higher real estate values next summer? Or a big ski season? Only time will tell.

Single Family Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes decreased again by three (3) to 47. The sub-$650K segment is pretty stagnant. It has become a stand-off between buyers and sellers. Most of these properties just have too many incurable defects for today’s buyers. They have seen better, and want better. The recent buyers (closings) may be over paying, especially if we have another poor snow season. The mid-range of the residential market is doing fine. There would certainly appear to be buyers pulling money out of the stock market to purchase quality second homes…

Residential Lot Inventory

There are 31 single-family lots on the market. That segment of the market appears to be cooling down. There are still a few Altis II lots available for those looking for premier ski-in and ski-out building sites. They can be closed immediately. Plan to spend ~$750K.

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is down 4 (four) to 72. Of the 72 properties in “pending,” 8 are “contingent short sales” and 30 are in “back-up” status. Clearly, the short sales are becoming fewer. The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) decreased by twelve to 93… My “feel” for the market the past week-or-so is that it has stalled. I was in the office (and around) all Labor Day weekend and it appeared slow. And I was in the office all week (working on transactions, thankfully), and it was slow. Maybe all of the “prices are going up” hoopla was pre-mature.

Market Updates and News

Mammoth toursim surprisingly spiked back upward the past two weeks. Labor Day was busy in town and the new Bluegrass Festival was well attended. There were school-aged kids back in town the past week (?). And it looks like the efforts to bring a major biking event back to Mammoth will be successful. Saturday morning over 1,000 riders made their way down Main St. for the Fall Century and associated shorter rides. Quite a visual and helicopter coverage too. No doubt the photos and video will be part of next year’s promotion. Meanwhile, the Kamikaze and mountain bike events are being held at the Ski Area. Summer tourism is becoming Mammoth’s “ace-in-the-hole.”

Lot of other “interesting” items to discuss as summer winds down. Mammoth’s Town Manager, Marianna Marysheva-Martinez aka Triple M resigned this past week. Some people were surprised. But this is the final down-step in the Mammoth Town Council’s bankruptcy/cleanout/re-organization plan. Triple M’s role was critical. Her financial acumen guided the BK process which included getting the Town’s books and budget in order. She also played the “hit” person role for many other aspects. Now the true re-building process can begin. The Town is without many administrative heads right now but the hiring will occur soon. So there are and will be all sorts of new people in government and at the Ski Area. Should be entertaining…

Local cable TV provider Suddenlink actually began installing super-high speed Internet service to Mammoth customers this past week. Many of these customers had no “hard” Internet service prior to this and/or relied on some weak wireless alternative. Verizon will apparently be following soon. I haven’t tried the new service yet because I have been fortunate to have a good dsl line for the past 12 years. But this is a growing reality. Users will be adjusting accordingly to the new service opportunities.

This is a boon to almost everybody but it will be fascinating watch all of the new opportunities to communicate and for entertainment. We been a bit deprived. It will also be fascinating to see Mammoth attract new businesses and residents who rely on such service and have been “shut out” in the past. This is a transformative event… Now if we can get the cell service improved along with it…

I casually conduct rent surveys all the time here in Mammoth. I discuss the rental market with my clients and friends that own income properties. I watch the rental ads and community bill boards for current information. I talk to prospective tenants who constantly walk into my office. Rents have been “soft” the past couple of years with a decent supply. But this past summer there wasn’t the big, typical summer turnover. Landlords have been able to move rents up a realistic 5% and maintain quality. Many local Realtors are scrambling to help qualified tenants find rentals. Oddly, this is occurring after two drought winters. Mammoth has become a tight rental market once again.

The “remoteness” of Mammoth is being compressed all of the time. A recent Bloomberg article cites how Amazon’s warehouse proliferation will soon allow them to make many deliveries on the same day the order is made. Competition is pushing it. With major Amazon warehouses to the north and south of Mammoth, delivery times for many items are certain to improve. They really aren’t bad now…It’s still nice to spend dollars locally (and pay TBID!!) but there are many times when items just aren’t available locally. Any visitor who has waited days for a special auto part can tell you that. But I sense “Reno runs” will still be in order.

Maybe the biggest comedy of the summer has been Mammoth’s two bank robberies. Mammoth went for decades without a bank heist but this summer both Union Bank and BofA were robbed in broad daylight at the teller’s window. Amazingly, the Union Bank robber has yet to be apprehended despite very clear photographs in wide distribution. The BofA robber was quickly found at a room at Motel 6. Both robbers got away with small amounts of cash. And luckily no one got hurt. They sound more like the subject of a Jimmy Buffet song…

Noteworthy Sales

One of Mammoth’s long standing (and second generation) appraisers was in the door of the office the other day and I asked him “which way is the market going?” He gave me a blank stare and pointed one hand into the air and the other to the ground… See, I’m not the only one. But we certainly have some sales to talk about…

The sales of two higher-end homes; one at $1,245,000 that is older and dated but in a premium neighborhood with a panoramic views. The other a modern (<10 years old) and beautifully appointed home in the Slopes with no view for $1,070,000. Buyers are still paying premiums for views.

Snowcreek continues to hold value; an older  3 bedroom + loft / 3 bath in SC1 sold for $425,000 with a garage. The 3/3 units in Snowcreek 5 can barely come to the market and they are sold (2 this period in the low $500K range). A good 2/2 townhome in SC5 sold for $437,000.

A south facing 4 bedroom / 3 bath at Chateau de Montagne sold ($300K) for just slightly more than a north facing 3 bedroom + loft / 2 bath ($292K) at St. Moritz… Boy, I know which one I would rather have.

A nice 1 bedroom + loft / 2 bath at Wildrose sold for $$200,000. A nice 1 bedroom + loft /2 bath at Mammoth Ski & Racquet sold for $250,000.

A nice 2 bedroom + loft / 2 bath at The Summit that looks right at Eagle Express sold for $415,000. A smaller unit at The Timbers sold for $875,000.

And four smaller homes sold $475K to $560K. Little 1980’s built “Hooper Homes” are still holding value.

Other Real Estate News

Mortgage rates entered bizarro world this past week… Rates for “jumbo loans” (non-conforming or non-Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans) fell below traditional/government backed rates. Basically, rates for bigger loans fell below the rates for smaller ones. Nobody can ever remember this happening before. Now a loan officer can tell a borrower that they should consider a bigger loan to get a better rate… Typically, these jumbo loans are kept in the banks portfolios and are made only to well qualified buyers.

Right now it appears that banks have plenty of deposits and hence money to lend. Conversely, bond rates are up in the past few weeks so Fannie and Freddie rates are up… While the upper end of the Mammoth market is still largely a cash market, these rates could be an opportunity for some to finance a big purchase or put a new loan on an existing property. But probably not… probably just another weird scene (and unintended consequence) caused by the government tinkering in the economy.

Real estate industry commenters were recently talking about the newest real estate bubble; real estate listings overload or “the consumer bubbles with confusion.” I have beat this drum before but now the industry is recognizing it as a real problem. The proliferation of broker and agent websites, Facebook, You Tube, Trulia, Zillow,, auction sites, and every other scammer trying to get a piece of the action.

I talk to people every day that are looking at all sorts of distorted and delayed information. The real estate industry is now on the verge of pulling back all of the IDX and VOW linkage, it has simply become out-of-hand. And some agents are losing their shirts paying to have their pictures and phony Yelp reviews attached to all these websites. Some things never change.

In the meantime, if you are watching real estate in Mammoth or the Eastern Sierra… RE/MAX of Mammoth

Thanks for reading!

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