Market Summary: February 14 – February 28

The Mammoth MLS is reporting only six (6) real estate closings in Mammoth Lakes for the two week period ranging from a low of $189,500 to a high of $1,250,000 (the highest being a residential lot!). That is down six from the previous period. Of the six closings, three were financed and three paid cash. There were no REO/bank owned or short sale property closings reported. While the number of closed real estate transactions was low the Ski Week period and the following weekend had plenty of potential buyers out looking at property. Many made offers.

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end the condominium inventory is up only one (1) to 164. There were 12 new condo listings for the period and again all but a couple are truly new to the market. The winter rush of new condos to the market appears to have slowed down for now. The March 15 to May 15 period is usually a strong real estate sales period, second only to the Fall in the level of sales activity.

Single Family Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes is up two (2) to 59. There were some true “new-to-the-market” properties. But the local agent consensus is they are all overpriced. Homes must have special features and benefits or aggressive pricing for buyers to become interested. This has been the market the past 18 months.

Residential Lot Inventory

There are 29 residential lots on the market ranging from $169,000 to $1,995,000. I have two in escrow right now and am a bit shocked by it. This has been a slow segment of the market the past two years. But the new Graystone and Gray Bear homes have absorbed much of the demand from the buy-a-lot-and-build crowd.

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is up six (6) to 46 at period’s end. Of the 46 properties in “pending,” two (2) are “contingent short sale” and 24 are in “back-up” status. The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) is up eight (8) for the period to 64. It would appear that the post-holiday slow down is over. Many local agents sure hope so.

Market Updates and News

Once again the weather in Mammoth has been absolutely gorgeous. One nice storm broke through and dumped a couple of feet during Ski Week. But other than that it has been warm and the snowpack is dwindling fast. But the end of the 10-day forecast has Mammoth moving back into a wet pattern. The President’s Weekend / Ski Week / post Ski Week weekend were packed. The period is rivaling the Christmas/New Year’s period for visitor numbers, especially if the snow is good.

Summer in February Continues

The Mammoth ice rink’s potential move the Mammoth Creek Park West (MCPW) was the subject of more public meetings this past week. The scoping meeting for the EIR is scheduled for later this month. But the budget limitations are beginning to be apparent. But right now none of the Town staff want anybody to talk about “numbers.” The dreamers in the bunch want a Community Center with an indoor swimming pool, a year-round ice rink, skate park, bouldering park, dog park and on and on. We went through this drill 20 years ago when I was a Planning Commissioner.

Meanwhile the current estimated cost of moving the ice rink to MCPW has risen from ~$1M to more like $2.5M. And we haven’t even discovered the real “scope” of environmental mitigations that are likely once the real plan and EIR are close to being completed. The Town is simultaneously building a new police station near Mammoth Hospital and is has initiated plans for developing a parking structure at the Village. No wonder Rusty thinks the Town should take over operation of Sierra Star golf course; they think have an endless amount of money to spend. There are two Council seats up in June. Maybe it’s a good time for an election….Ironically, the warm weather has forced the closing of the ice rink for the 2015/16 season.

The ban on “single use” plastic bags in Mammoth begins March 1. They have already disappeared from VONS. They are using old fashion paper bags for now but those will cost shoppers a dime in the future, but they will be heavy duty with handles (probably like the ones at Trader Joes). This might be the new strategy for all those nickels and dimes laying around the house. VONS management says they are expecting some re-usable heavy duty plastic bags that will cost 25 cents, but they haven’t seen them yet. With so many unsuspecting out-of-towners shopping here in Mammoth this will certainly create some angst. And the Town’s expense for dog poop bags is certainly going to skyrocket.

The Internet speeds in Mammoth continue to impress. With Sudddenlink’s nearly $5M infrastructure investment into Mammoth this last summer, the service may be at an optimal level. I recently upgraded my office to 200 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload. The upload speed is really impressive. They offer 1+ Gbps service for those who might need it. Even better is that moving Internet and phones into one package is approx. 2/3 the cost of the old (and very slow) Verizon DSL and phone service. Finally, Mammoth may see the “telecommuting” concept come home. And many second homeowners who rely on quality Internet service can now stay longer without compromise. Maybe this will help fill the vast vacancies in commercial space around Mammoth.

On the financing side of things; based on recent closings there appears to be increasing opportunities to finance condo hotel type condos in Mammoth. An increasing amount of southern California lenders have access to loan pools that will lend on these properties. I can provide the information upon request.

The upcoming sale (merger) of Starwood Hotels and Resorts to Marriott International may have no real impact to the Westin Monache here in Mammoth. But we’ll see. Maybe it will become the Marriott Monache?? The premier lodging property in Mammoth is almost 10 years old and is due for some internal upgrading like is common in the hotel industry. The lobby and hallways are the likely targets.

Noteworthy Sales

The high sale of the period was a vacant residential lot in Juniper Ridge at $1,250,000. The seller purchased it for $975,000 in 2012.

Three of the closings showed the extremes of where the Mammoth market has come since the mid-2000s peak. I’ve reported on these identical sales and most fall within the 60-70% of the peak.

The sale of 2061 East Bear Court (Woodwinds) sold at $775,000. This was one of the last Intrawest projects. It closed in 2007 but was “sold” (pre-sold) in late 2005 or 2006. This was the original owner who paid $1,390,000 for the property. So it sold recently for 56% of the mid-2000s value (probably very close to the peak). These late Intrawest projects are typically the most extreme to the low side.

Eagle Run #209 recently closed for $750,000. It closed in January 2005 as a resale at $1,065,000 or 72%. Eagle Run has used it’s recent litigation money to completely re-side and re-roof the project. Clearly the values are rebounding there.

And Chateau de Montagne #26 recently closed for $425,000 and it sold in 2005 for $569,000. That 74% is about as high as we are seeing in Mammoth. The older large well-built townhomes are holding value because today they make great units for remodeling.

Other Real Estate News

I’m always digging around on valuations and trying to make sense of the Mammoth real estate market (and being a member of the Mono County Tax Appeal Board I often get to hear the professionals debate it). One thing that always jumps out are excessive listings within one condo project. With 164 condos on the current market and almost 90 different condo projects (and over 8,000 condos) an imbalance becomes noticeable. And inherently I know there are 297 units in Snowcreek Phase 5 and only 31 units at Mammoth Fireside. But when the total listings in a project exceed 5% than it raises a red flag. Two such projects right now are Aspen Creek and 1849 Condos.

What is interesting about this is that the two projects are opposite in their overall financial position. 1849 recently completed a massive exterior remodel including new siding, windows, roofs and plenty more. The special assessments for all of this work were large; ~$90,000 for the largest units. That work is now paid for. The dollars put in haven’t equated to any real appreciation in selling prices. Purchasing in a HOA in this position makes sense. And yet 8% of the project is for sale. And right now the values aren’t going up.

Conversely, Aspen Creek is almost opposite. It is facing new roofs, siding, plumbing and other long term replacements. 11% of the units are listed for sale including three 1 bedroom units listed under $190,000. We’ll see where the values go before buyers are willing to jump in. It may take a couple of years to discover.

Another valuation anomaly occurred this last week. A lovely 4 bedrooms / 3.5 baths townhouse in the “5” series of Snowcreek Phase 4 was listed at $1,345,000. These units have been selling ~$800,000. This unit does have an amazing location at the far end. The creek and ponds in this location create a remarkable setting. These townhomes were built around 1987. In the early 90’s an adjacent subdivision was built (Waterford St.) and the far end lots of the subdivision clearly encroached on the “quiet enjoyment” of these Snowcreek properties. So three townhouse owners on this far corner purchased the last two lots of the subdivision to protect their setting.

This newly listed townhome is one of these three owners who owns a third of the adjacent lots. So I asked the listing agent how much she valued the lots at in the townhome asking price. Her calculation was “the lots were each worth $250,000.” Okay. So that is $167,000 per three owners. But if they don’t own the lots and there were homes the value of the three townhomes would be greatly diminished. Easily by a $167,000.

The newly listed townhouse has some nice upgrades, but I’m not giving more than $100,000 for those. So the value of the setting is listed at $400,000+. But the unit next door closed Oct. 2014 for $775,000. It was in original condition and didn’t share ownership in the lots…….We’ll see what the market will bear.

Thanks for reading!

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