Market Summary: August 30 – September 13

The Mammoth MLS is reporting 22 real estate closings in Mammoth Lakes for the two week period ranging from a low of $117,000 to a high of $1,350,000. That is up seven (7) closings from the previous period. Of the 22 closings, 21 were financeable properties and 11 were in fact financed. Two of the three $1M+ residential sales were financed. There was one (1) REO/bank owned property closing and one (1) short sale closing reported. Of the 22 closings, 11 were condos selling under $380,000. This newsletter reported 13 closings for the same period last year.

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end the condominium inventory is down 12 to 188. There were eight (8) new condo listings in the period, including one re-hash. So the Mammoth condo inventory is following the historic norm of peaking around the Labor Day Weekend. I have noted in the recent past that the $300K to $400K price range has good inventory––and that inventory is starting to go. These are Woodlands, Snowflower, Winteset, La Vista Blanc type properties. I am representing a very nice, off-MLS property for those looking for an affordable Mammoth condo with two sleeping areas and 2 bathrooms. This time last year there were 136 condos on the Mammoth market.

Single Family Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes is up two (2) to 71. I have found myself negotiating on properties in the ~$1M range the last couple of weeks and came up with this stat; in the last 100 days there have been nine (9) resale homes close between $1M to $1.5M. Seven of the nine have sold for $200,000 to $700,000 less than their original list price. And for resale homes that were actually sold during the peak in period in the mid-2000s (for direct comparison sake), the homes today are selling between 55-72% of those peak period prices….This time last year there were 66 homes on the market in Mammoth.

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is down one (1) to 55 at period’s end. That is down eight (8) for the last two reporting periods. This time of year it is normally increasing. Of the 55 properties in “pending,” three (3) are “contingent short sales” and 39 are in “back-up” status. The total number of pending in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) is down eight (8) for the period to 71. One year ago there were 67 properties pending Mammoth and 89 in the total Mammoth MLS.

Market Updates and News

Unfortunately, the smoky conditions continued through the entire period. The “Rough Fire” to the west and south of us near Fresno has now burned 130,000 acres and is ~30% contained. The timing is bad, Mammoth is hosting cyclists from all over the country this month. The fire started July 31st. Mammoth residents are sick of the smoke. But it could be worse, we could have a fire on our doorsteps like other California communities.

Measure Z Battle Heats Up!

The Measure Z referendum is now heating up. The “Yes” and “No” factions are spending money and taking positions. One of the “No” camps contentions is the cost of the referendum itself. This is a vote to determine if we should vote, and the vote is costing the community in the neighborhood of $50,000. But a confrontation this past week between members of the two sides ended up with a police report/investigation. The purported activity was mean and out-of-hand, but maybe this is just the beginning. The “No” side also noted that many of the “No” signs that had been placed around town were missing. And this weekend, very noticeably, dozens of “Yes” sign that had been placed around town are simply gone.

Meanwhile, as promotion of their “No” position on Measure Z, the Town Council has introduced a new “Quality of Life” ordinance that they intend to pass on September 16 (see below in Other Real Estate News for my synopsis). Personally, I don’t think the “Yes” crowd expected anybody but the Town Council to be on the “No” side, but that has been proven wrong. And more and more of the local voters are discovering what this is all about. The Mammoth Lakes Board of Realtors® will be hosting a Measure Z forum on September 17 at the Theater Art Center. The Board of Directors is pondering whether we will need armed guards.

This weekend’s issue of The Sheet had a full page ad from the “Yes” side that included approx. 230 names of supporters. Interestingly enough, it reads like the Who’s Who of the old-guard of Mammoth Lakes. A couple dozen are second homeowners and aren’t likely to be registered voters. I would bet a couple dozen more aren’t even registered to vote and can’t be bothered, they are just be politically correct neighbors. More are likely clueless as to what it is all about and could change their minds once they are in the voting booth. Most people in Mammoth would look at the list and think “NIMBYS.”

We are also beginning to see who is pushing the “No” side. Besides the Council, the 30 and 40-year old ish business people in the community are a strong faction. So how will social media play into this outcome? As we are learning, social media is far more powerful than full page ads. But one prominent “No” is Paul Rudder. His local resume is long and deep including being one of the significant attorneys in town since 1980. He also owns two of the largest commercial centers in town. He does have some mojo. If the young business people in the community get organized and are effective at getting out the vote, the “Nos” have a real chance. And the passing of the Quality of Life ordinance is yet to be played out.

….Amazingly, the worst business winter of 2015 has been followed by the best business summer of 2015. Local business owners and the Town are reporting record revenues and bed tax revenues. June bed tax (TOT) in 2015 was double that of 2010. The accumulation of summer events in Mammoth and the eastern Sierra is the biggest driver. And many of these events are falling into the spring and late summer “shoulder” seasons. The partnership marketing of Mammoth and Mono County is also a driver. And more attention to the international market (I was working late Friday night and a bunch of German tourists were in my office looking for help to find their Airbnb rental).

One item of note for the real estate community to pay attention to; summer lodging rates are increasing. In the past, summer rentals were almost considered a “giveaway” but with the new increased demand the lodging properties can command higher rates. That is good news for condo owners who are renting.

And this summer I experienced something new; potential buyers coming to town and wanting to see property but they “weren’t available” one specific day of their stay. Why? Both husband and wife were booking full-day fly fishing instruction/adventures. Too bad the creeks and rivers have such low flow.

Noteworthy Sales

The first closing in the new Grey Bear subdivision is in the books; a more modest home closing at $1,228,456. This new enclave of single-family homes has been in high demand. So much so that the property across the street has been acquired for the second phase of 25 lots. Check out the video I shot on Labor Day while there was a minimum workforce on the site, Grey Bear II.

Selling prices at Mammoth Green are starting to rebound. The project is undergoing massive exterior renovations following the settlement of their litigation with the original developer (Intrawest). The project is being completely resided amongst other things. A 3 bedrooms / 2 baths unit closed for $510,000. Last period a 2/2 closed for $385,000. Once all of the work is completed values could rise another $75-100K.

Sixteen condo sales, some up a little, some down a little. The type of sales you would expect this time of year. Buyers aren’t stealing anything. Sellers need to be realistic.

Other Real Estate News

The “Quality Life Ordinance” that was on last week’s Town Council agenda and is scheduled to be voted on September 16 is a new set of regulations pertaining to transient rentals. This is modeled after what other resort communities in California and Colorado have put into place as just the foundation of more regulation of transient rentals. This movement is the core of the Measure Z “No” crowd. And again, this proposed ordinance is just the start of increased regulation. All of this is in reaction to the nearly out-of-control rental scenarios occurring that are being driven by Internet sites like VRBO and Airbnb.

The “Quality of Life” theme addresses a combination of unregulated transient rentals and the lack of revenue (TOT) collection which supports many basic and tourist related services in Mammoth Lakes. The ordinance hopes to more closely regulate inherent problems like “stacking” (overcrowding) of properties, noise, parking, trash, management and public safety. It also hopes to more closely regulate the collection of TOT.

Part of the ordinance will require owners to have exterior and interior postings of all regulations pertaining to parking, trash, etc. The postings will also be required to have a contact telephone number at which a party can be reached on a 24 hour basis (this will become a standard condition for an operator’s permit). That on-call person shall have a limited amount of time (proposed 1 hour) to take corrective action. That would include calls from neighbors about problems with stacking, noise, parking and trash.

The ordinance has other components; it clearly defines what a “transient occupancy facility” is (no more cheating there). So now “just renting a room out” will officially be transient occupancy. (One of the exemptions in the ordinance is a “sanitarium”…..can’t wait for some owner of a nightly rental to make that claim. That would be fitting.)

The Council is determined to have this all in place within the next 60 days. We’ll see. And there is sure to be more to come. Many resort communities have beefed up their number of code enforcement officers (including Internet specialists) and have established 24-hour hotlines to help enforce the requirements of the operator’s permit.

And how all of this will affect the Measure Z outcome is yet to be seen. The next three weeks could be fun!

Thanks for reading!

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