Market Summary: October 26 – November 9

The Mammoth MLS is reporting 18 closings in Mammoth Lakes for the two week period ranging from a low of $180,000 to a high of $1,223,173. This is strong and stable market activity for this time of year, essentially classic demand leading up to the holidays. During the period there was one (1) REO/bank owned property closing and one (1) short sale closing. Of the 18 real estate sales, 13 were financeable properties and eight (8) were purchased with financing. The highest price sale was an REO. Eleven of the 18 sales were under $400,000 including one home.

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end there are 120 condominiums listed for sale in Mammoth Lakes, a decrease of three (3) for the period. Condo inventory remains higher than this time last year. The condo hotel units and Snowcreek are selling the best. The closed sales for the period indicate no specific price trend in the market. There were increased values indicated at Woodlands and Mammoth Estates. There were decreased values indicated at Forest Creek, Sunstone and The Summit. Others are flat.

Single Family Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes is down two (2) again to 56. And again, the inventory is higher than last year at this time. More re-hash and Days On Market. There is outrageous demand for REO homes in the $400,000 range. Almost unbelievable. These are homes in bad condition or with serious compromises. Buyers are grossly underestimating the cost (time and $$) to rehabilitate these properties. But so be it. They could move into the ~$600K price range and be so much better off… The (7) homes in Starwood listed from $1,599,000 to $1,950,000 are indeed competing now. One just dropped a couple hundred thousand off the price, and it is one of the better properties available in the subdivision… Three homes closed in the $5-600K range, and again, no clear direction in value.

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is down 11 to 58 at period’s end. Of the 58 properties in “pending,” seven (7) are “contingent short sales” (up three) and 28 are in “back-up” status. The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) is down 14 to 78. Clearly, the pre-holiday and pre-winter sales are working their way through to closing but the new sale activity is slowing down. This is historically a normal trend for the Mammoth market.

Market Updates and News

The Ski Area will open this coming Thursday. Warm temperatures in town AND on the Mountain have limited the snowmaking. But the natural snowfall of two weeks ago laid decent base around the Main Lodge. But the opener will be sketchy. I’ll wait.

Between a town hall meeting with Ski Area CEO Rusty Gregory and article in the The Sheet about geotourism, the community of Mammoth received some vision about the future. And it is really nothing new. Oddly, the town hall meeting was located at Gomez Mexican Restaurant in the Village. And yes, there was alcohol served and the Mountain bought a couple rounds. There wasn’t any “new” information. According to Gregory the purchase of the Big Bear resorts was more defensive than anything else; they simply didn’t want Vail or Aspen getting the names on the database (or maybe Vail didn’t want Aspen to get those names). And “Eagle Lodge is the next big project.” But the original owners at Juniper Springs Lodge heard that 15 years ago.

There were plenty of promises for the future (as usual). The Main Lodge land trade may be on hold subject to the whims of the new members of the legislative branch in Washington DC. And June Mt. may get tossed a few bones. And Gregory mentioned all of the “capital improvements” made in recent years, but they really amounted to capital maintenance more than improvements; items like replacing the antiquated chairs at 5 and 9 and purchasing $10M worth of snowcats.

Okay, here is something new, the Ski Area appears to be moving into a variable or dynamic pricing program for lift tickets. The industry refers to it as “airline pricing.” Apparently this is the new trend at ski resorts. Now there is no “regular” pricing for lift tickets. The price will be higher during peak times and lower in less demand periods. Discounts will be had for purchasing in the future as opposed to walking up to the ticket window on a ski day. There may end up being 2-for-1 pricing. I wonder if they will have stormy day pricing? Or excessive wind pricing? There is sure to be confusion and hurt feelings. For non-passholders it sounds like it will be worth watching the deals offered on the Mammoth Mtn. website.

Mountain resort communities are now recognizing the concept of geotourism. And Mammoth has experienced it in the past few months. Even the checker at VONS said it has been a busy fall. Basically, more and more people are just looking to enjoy the great outdoors along with some moderate recreation. I’ve been reporting on this trend for years. Life in the city stinks. Now it is identified by the tourism wonks and has its own name. The geotourists are reported to spend their dollars over a broad section of the resort’s economy and seem to prefer the slower off-season. So like I said earlier, maybe this is Mammoth’s future; less intense winter seasons, a busy summer full of events and great weather and a wide range of recreation, and busier but mellow shoulder seasons.

The real estate media is spewing out all sorts of market conjecture these days but one thing is for sure; luxury real estate sales are hitting new records all around the globe. The people with money are spending it on the best real estate. And we see it here in Mammoth. The upper end of this market remains strong

And the condo hotel sales are truly bipolar. I’ve seen numerous examples of “investors” selling out while other “investors” are buying in, for the same unit. These investors weren’t and aren’t looking to use the properties, they simply wanted revenue. Interesting times for sure.

And a small off-the-radar tidbit. The Mountain listed two condos for sale during the period. Probably went unnoticed by most agents. These were two of a dozen or so units the Ski Area purchased in random condo projects around town many years ago after the Intrawest purchase. They originally purchased them for two reasons; middle-management employee housing and anticipation of higher real estate values. Now they appear to want to liquidate them. Good rumor fodder. Time to liquidate.

Noteworthy Sales

The REO sale of a 3500 square foot Stonegate town home for $1,223,173. Stonegate is the small enclave of luxury townhomes on Minaret Road along the Sierra Star golf course below the Village. Completed in 2007. This is across from the event site, Sam’s Wood Site. And this was the large floorplan. This foreclosure was previously owned by one of the original development partners. There was almost $2M in debt on the property. Another remnant of the bust. This property had multiple offers and a bidding war. But I’m not sure that is where I would put $1.2M for acquisition in Mammoth.

The sale of Forest Creek #29 for $270,000. This is a 2 bedroom / 3 bath townhome located between “The Ghetto” and Tallus and the Sierra Star golf course. These are nice floorplans with large kitchens and great rooms. They have atriums with private spas. This unit has a really nice location; sun, views, trees, open space, etc. The property was on the market for a couple of months and sold significantly below asking price. Good buy for the buyer.

The Woodlands is a well maintained early 1980’s constructed project at the top of Chateau Road adjacent to the Sierra Star golf course. A 2 bedroom + loft closed at $360,000. Good price for the seller. In the past few years the units in this project have sat on the market too long. Lately they have been selling for solid prices.

Some of the aforementioned sales; three Snowcreek units selling right at market value, a junky house selling at $390,000, some medium priced homes selling at market value, a couple of 1 bedroom units at The Summit closing at $180,000 each, and a 2+loft at Heritage that was listed in previous summers and a tough sale closed for $201,500.

Other Real Estate News

The baby boomer mindset has been a big driver of real estate in Mammoth the past 20 years. The Intrawest business plan of the mid-1990’s was all about “The Great Boom Ahead” or how the demographic would move through their big spending years and drive resort real estate purchases. It boomed, busted, and is still very much with us. The real estate industry is watching all of the macro demographics closely. In the last week two baby boom surveys came out, one from the California Association of Realtors with a survey of California boomers and one from The Demand Institute/Nielsen ratings. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Nationally, many had their net worths radically altered by the 2008 recession. While they anticipated having greater net worth in 2014, they actually have less than in 2007. All of that has delayed or modified their plans. Retirement will be “postponed” but not abandoned. In California, only 5% experienced at foreclosure or short sale and 92% say they have equity in their homes. In California, 44% own more than one home, and of those 43% are pure vacation homes.
  • 59% of California boomers plane to retire in the home they currently live in. But nationally it is 63%. Of those who plan to move, 46% plan to move into a larger and nicer home. But the (weird) details show that this 46% are in the less affluent classification. They want to retire “to their dream home”… (the operative word being ‘dream.’) Of the Californians who plan to move when they retire, 47% want a smaller home, and 44% want to move out-of-state. Ultimately, 75% of boomers want a home they can “age in place” with “aging-freindly features.” Single-family homes are by-far the most popular choice. But low-maintenance is a big requirement. The two don’t normally go hand-in-hand.
  • In California only 23% believe they will need to tap the equity of their homes for retirement, and only 21% would consider a reverse mortgage to supplement their retirement.

Thanks for reading!

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