Market Summary: October 11 – October 25

The Mammoth MLS is reporting 23 real estate closings in Mammoth Lakes for the two week period (plus a few days) ranging from a low of $190,000 to a high of $1,550,000. Of the 23 closings, all 23 were financeable properties and 17 were financed. The sales included one deed-restricted affordable housing unit. Ten of the sales were condos under $400,000 and four (4) of the sales were ~$1M+ homes/condos. There were no REO/bank owned property closings and no short sale closings reported. The Mammoth real estate market is steady and showing signs of pre-winter enthusiasm.

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end the condominium inventory is down another five (5) to 146. There were six (6) new condo listings in the period and four of them are beautifully remodeled older properties in what the market refers to as “turn-key” condition. Of course the asking prices are high but not necessarily if you calculate the true cost of the remodeling and decor. It is a great time of year to bring a quality property to the market, and here they are.

Single Family Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes is down five (5) to 55. Again, the marginal homes in the ~$600,000 price range that buyers have rejected all spring and summer are selling and closing. The second home in Gray Bear Phase I has already closed (that was fast).

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is down 12 to 50 at period’s end. Of the 50 properties in “pending,” three (3) are “contingent short sales” (they seem to be stuck in the short sale process) and 30 are in “back-up” status. The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) is down six (6) for the period to 74.

Market Updates and News

This past weekend was perfect Fall weather with warm temperatures, hardly a breeze and plenty of yellow and other flaming colors to enjoy. Simply gorgeous. Judging by the traffic on the street that I can see from my desk, Mammoth experienced a fair amount of visitation from both guests and second homeowners preparing their properties for winter. But everyone is increasingly looking at the long range forecast for a storm cycle to appear. There is precipitation and colder temperatures forecast for the coming week. You never know when Mammoth can get a foot of snow.

The Ski Area is tentatively set to open Nov. 12 but I doubt if we can rely on an abundance of snowmaking like last year; there simply can’t be the water available. And in town the landscape irrigation systems are being blown out and snow stakes are appearing everywhere.

Council Votes to Further Explore the Ice Rink at Mammoth Creek Park

Last Wednesday the Town Council approved funding for preliminary design work and the environmental review process for moving the ice rink to Mammoth Creek Park West. I’m going to cover that below in the “Other Real Estate News” section. There was an interesting array of public comments in the hearing.

The Measure Z results and buzz have rapidly faded from the Mammoth conscience. The Town now needs to implement the new Quality of Life Ordinance regulations. We’ll see who pays attention. And last issue I said Airbnb was “getting aggressive.” That may have been an understatement. Mammoth is just a blip on their radar but transient rentals have recently become an outright war in San Francisco.

Proposition F is their “Airbnb measure” and it has become nasty. If passed, the proposition would impose additional restrictions on Airbnb-type short-term rentals. The “Yes” folks claim that Airbnb has simply created an assault on the city’s zoning laws (sounds familiar). The “No” side points out that many San Francisco homeowners simply need the additional income from renting their spare rooms out. Many are described as older women who are “house poor” and don’t want a full-time roommate but need the extra money and like the camaraderie and “energy of young travelers.” Others point out that the Airbnb accommodations fulfill an affordable option that really doesn’t exist for many visitors to the City.

From a San Francisco Chronicle article; “When San Francisco rushed into the sharing economy…it was like the wild Wild West.” I have news for Mammoth, it has only begun here….

The Chronicle article states that Airbnb has committed $8 million dollars to defeating the Proposition. The “Yes” campaign has raised $400,000 so far. Meanwhile, Airbnb has already come under attack for controversial ads that “offend” SF residents. One such ad reads “Dear Public Library System, We hope you use some of the $12 million in hotel taxes to keep the library open longer. Love, Airbnb.”…. I hope it snows just so we can watch how this evolves…..

Mammoth recently received a nice accolade from the crew at Teton Gravity Research. Back in spring they reported on the 10 most polluting mountain towns in America. Their primary research tool was a study and interactive map by UC Berkeley that weighed 37 environmental variables. Recently they ran the 10 least polluting mountain towns and Mammoth ranked #1. And Mammoth’s score was significantly less than all the others. Mammoth’s transportation system and water conservation efforts are the shining stars in reducing the community’s carbon footprint.

The new mortgage regulations and disclosures (known as TRID) are in fact delaying real estate closings. But as the lenders and escrow officers become more familiar with it the delays will likely pass. One loan officer told me last week that it is simply making them be more accurate on their up-front closing cost estimates.

Noteworthy Sales

Just like the last newsletter, a significant portion of the sales were condos under $400K. Clearly, some buyers are anticipating a winter snow season and stepping up. They are benefiting by having had a good volume of inventory to choose from when they agreed to a transaction some 45-60 days ago. The inventory is now diminished, especially in quality.

The sale of a 2 bedroom / 2 bath unit at Grand Sierra Lodge sold for $395,000. That may seem like a good price for the buyer but this unit has been on-and-off the market for years. I literally stopped showing it because I had to tell everyone the major defect if it wasn’t apparent (and most time it wouldn’t be). The location overlooks the GSL entry which is plenty busy. But even worse is the commercial trash compactor for the entire Village is right around the corner. When the trash is dumped every morning the noise is horrendous…..I hope that was disclosed.

A couple of the nice Snowcreek Phase 5 (Fairway Homes) 3 bedroom / 3 bath properties closed. I showed these around Labor Day and knew they were ripe for selling. There were three good ones on the market at the time, which is rare. The one with the motivated seller closed for $545,000 cash, excellent buy, but the seller apparently is purchasing a bigger unit. The unit didn’t have outstanding views but was one of the last built in the entire project and had very nice finishing touches. The other had an amazing panoramic view off the rear/ main deck. It closed for $620,000.

The very large and original “developer’s unit” at The Lodges closed for $1,175,000. A magnificent log home that was only a couple of years old closed for $1,550,000. And again, the second home in Gray Bear Phase I closed for $1,285,000.

Other Real Estate News

After the massive rejection of the Town Council’s “group think” in the Measure Z vote, the Council jumped right back into the fire and voted 3-2 to fund the conceptual drawings and environmental work (CEQA) for moving the ice rink to Mammoth Creek Park West. I wrote a Q&A this last May that has been referenced many times in the discussion. A good synopsis of the meeting can be found at The Sheet.

The public comment period lasted about two hours and there were some interesting comments. The one about the Town spending $30,000 a month for office rent was priceless (the primary motivation for moving the ice rink to land owned by the Town is to stop paying rent!). Another experienced hockey “expert” noted that hockey shots that hit the side boards “sound like gunshots” and might not be appropriate in a residential area.

If you are really bored you can find a video of the meeting on the Town’s website.

Meanwhile, in the last few months the Town’s Recreation Commission met repeatedly and now thinks the Town can build a full blown recreation center in addition to the ice rink project at Mammoth Creek Park West. The Council is scrambling for the dollars to just move the ice rink. Now they want an aquatics center and other assorted amenities. I can’t wait to see the conceptual plans for all of this.

But the Town people have clearly underestimated the cost of moving the ice rink, the cost of the environmental review (CEQA compliance) and the according mitigations required adjacent to hundreds of residential properties, and the cost of defending the threatened litigation (the local HOAs have already combined resources and hired attorneys).

Interestingly, the two dissenting Council members, Richardson and Raimondo, are the only two that own substantial businesses in Mammoth. They both agreed “we don’t have the money” (to even move the ice rink).

Ironically, this is the Council that chastised the Measure Z people for “wasting” $50,000 on a special election. Now they want to spend a minimum of $150,000 on conceptual plans and environment review for moving the ice rink and potentially an even larger recreation center.

Pray for snow!

Thanks for reading!

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