Market Summary: April 10 – April 24

The Mammoth MLS is reporting 15 (down seven) real estate closings in Mammoth Lakes for the two week period ranging from a low of $220,000 to a high of $1,260,000. Of the 15 closings, 13 were financeable properties and 12 of the 13 were financed (mortgage rates are at their lowest since 2013). The sales for the period were a little different; nine (9) of the 15 closings were condos in the $300,000 to $600,000 range. This period last year there were only nine closings.

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end the condominium inventory is up three (3) to 166. There were 15 new condo listings for the period and no real standouts, and no new Westin units. There are still only eight (8) condos listed for sale under $200,000. This time last year there were 174 condos on the market.

Single Family Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes is down another four (4) to 46. There are only three homes listed under $649,000. There are only 20 homes listed under $1M. This time last year there were 61 homes on the market.

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is down two (2) to 53 at period’s end. Of the 53 properties in “pending,” there are no “contingent short sale” and 30 are in “back-up” status. The contingent short sale that had been recently reported did not close, it came back to the market. This time last year there were only 39 properties pending. The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) is down eight for the period to 82. Last year that number was 61.

Market Updates and News

After last weekend the occupancy rate and visible guest traffic around town dropped dramatically. Winter is over. But the bed tax and sales tax numbers are showing it was a very good winter. The Eagle and Canyon Lodge areas were shut down as the Mountain operations receded back to the Main Lodge and west side. The snowpack on that side of the Ski Area remains very good. The conditions on the upper two/thirds are rather excellent based on daily timing. The lower runs can get “sticky.” Classic Mammoth spring skiing and riding. They plan to stay open through Memorial Day or beyond.

New Snow, But Winter Is Over…

Mammoth had several inches of new snow in the last couple of days with more in the forecast this coming week. We’ll take the water. Despite many local residents heading out for post-winter vacations, the town is already booked at 50% for next weekend; the Eastern High Sierra fishing opener. The combination of the “opener” and reasonably good ski conditions will bring a small crowd.

All over town the unsightly snow stakes are being pulled. And there is plenty of raking going on. The annual Town Clean-Up is scheduled for May 21. As usual there is lingering trash from the winter. But most of it will be cleaned up by the time the summer visitors arrive.

There are plenty of new “realities” for the ambitious Town officials including the proponents of the ice rink move to Mammoth Creek Park West. I’ve made my EIR scoping comments to the lead agency on that move. The EIR process will now take most of a year. And a recent Town staff presentation to the Planning Commission included some new revelations.

The ice rink consultants have strongly recommended that the Town build an “Olympic” sized rink and not just a standard hockey rink. The difference is 15 feet in width (both are 200 feet long). The Olympic rink can attract more than just the hockey crowd making the rink valuable to (and attract) a greater number of users. The problem is that it costs more and takes up more space on an ever shrinking parcel. The experts also say that the Town needs to plan for more locker room space. Considerably more. Again, more cost and more space.

The Town staff also (finally) admitted that the plan to “just move” the existing rink to MCPW won’t work. The current rink equipment was originally bought secondhand by the Town and it has deteriorated. The experts say it can’t be used. The existing dasher boards that surround the rink won’t meet the noise requirements of the new EIR. The estimated costs have to be sky rocketing. It will only be a matter of time before the Town Council is accused of “wasting” the $200,000 on the EIR, etc.

Meanwhile, Mammoth Recreation has entered into talks about a corporate relationship ($$$) with the L.A. Kings. But nobody in the presentation seemed to want to connect the dots that if the Kings want to be part of the “program” that they will want the rink for high-altitude training and that would occur in the summer (their off-season). So now the rink would have to be a year-round rink (fully enclosed) and would no longer be a “multi-use” facility.

And as articles in this week’s edition of The Sheet point out, the Town has other funding needs that may supersede those of the ice rink. The Town is working on building a much-needed new police station. The are limiting themselves to a very strict $2 million budget. They have the land adjacent to the new courthouse at the entry to town. But anybody who has ever built anything in Mammoth knows $2 million doesn’t go very far especially with government mandates. Those bids could be eye-opening.

The Town is also waiting for a court ruling that could lift the Sierra Club injunction at the Mammoth Airport. That would mean the FAA would be ready to dump 10’s of millions of dollars into a new terminal facility behind the existing terminal. And new tarmac space for three planes at one time. The Town has to have some matching dollars to capture the FAA funds. It is a small percentage but you can be sure the powers-that-be want the expanded terminal over the ice rink.

The Town is also embarking on a finding a permanent venue to manage events like Bluesapalooza. These events have become lucrative for the community. And they have the potential to expand both in size and number. To have a more permanent site is critical. Temporary restrooms, stages, power supply, etc. are just too time and cost consuming. The ice rink proponents can’t even begin to compare the overall community benefit to these types of events.

And the Town fathers also want to pursue a parking garage at the Village…..One hockey aficionado said to me the other day that he was “giving up” on the Town and the hockey rink. “I’m taking my kids to Tahoe next year for hockey,” he said…..

I got a call last week from a liquor license broker who had a new Mono County “full license” available. I asked him if it was the Charthouse’s license and he stumbled and said that would be confidential until a transaction. They want $150,000 which is significantly higher than the recent sales. There is a plenty of interesting history with Mono County liquor licenses (maybe for another day).

But odds are if a major restaurant chain wants that facility they are going to need that license. May the fun begin. But maybe it won’t remain a restaurant. Some landmark facilities get re-purposed; the massive Bank of America building is now Footloose, Grumpy’s is now a mountaineering store, the big Oaktree building is now a teen church and one infamous Main St. motel is now government sponsored housing for unwed mothers.

So it will certainly be interesting to see what happens. With Mammoth’s new and incredibly fast and reliable Internet services, I’m betting that there will be tech companies eyeing Mammoth in the future. There is plenty of vacant or underutilized commercial space in town.

Now for some fun stuff. Some enterprising locals have started Eastern Sierra Brewery Tours and they have a new 12-passenger van to give tours of the three breweries in Mammoth and June Lake. I see all kinds of potential. And they could add the brewery in Bishop. I hope they are very successful.

And another advertisement I see in Western Outdoor News is for Bridgeport Vacation Rentals. Renting travel trailers has become popular in this area. But for $550 they offer 4 nights in a self contained trailer including camp site fees at Lower Twin Lakes Resort AND 3 days boat and motor rental. That offer is good until June 11. They say it is “The Best Deal In The Sierra.” It sure will be if you land a couple of lunker brown trout.

Noteworthy Sales

The sale of an old home on Forest Trail for $680,000 brings back many memories. I first went on a potential listing appointment to this home in the late 1980’s. The owner had built the home and made several add-ons and modifications. He was very proud of his “creation.” He never listed the house but I always remember the meeting with him. He was the epitome of Mammoth second homeowners from the 1960’s era.

Back in the mid-2000’s one of my associates did list the property after the man had died. It was a hot market back then and the property’s close proximity to the Village made it attractive. We ended up finding a buyer but the transaction became a nightmare. After there was a signed purchase agreement some of the owner’s offspring and their in-laws decided they wanted to keep the house. They became rather pushy. Eventually we sorted it out but some of the kids had to actually buy the property from the estate. Ironically they just sold it for ~$200,000 less than what they paid for it.

But this time around the house lingered on the market for years.
The house is a vintage Mammoth home; a hodgepodge of rooms with Swiss/Austrian motif. Many of the rooms still have brightly colored shag carpeting originating from the 60’s and 70’s and some decor is worthy of a bordello. It is truly a Mammoth museum. The day it closed escrow it didn’t look much different than it did 30 years ago. It will be fun to see what the new owners do with it….

A 2 bedroom unit at Eagle Run closed for $565,000. The good news for the HOA is that it closed with conventional financing. The construction defect litigation prohibited lending at this project for the past 7-8 years. Oddly, I purchase almost the same unit in 2003 for exactly the same price….

Other Real Estate News

The quality and reputation of the local school district and schools is often a driver of real estate values. Typically, the better the public schools the higher the real estate values. This scenario plays-out in many areas of California. But Mammoth is different. In a predominantly second home market it is rare to see the quality of the schools as an attraction. In my experience it isn’t even a serious consideration for many intent upon raising a family here. They just want to be in Mammoth.

The other day a member of the Mammoth Unified School District Board stopped by my office to give me a new fact sheet on the District. Board member John Stalvo proudly pointed out that the District was recently placed on the Gaston Caperton Opportunity Honor Roll. This Honor Roll includes only 130 schools districts across the country. The award is for “providing students with rigorous academic offerings and innovative college-preparation programs.”

Mammoth High School is also rated in the top 8% of high schools in California by US News and World Report (Silver Award). The District was also placed on the College Board’s AP Honor Roll for 2015. The fact sheet had many other impressive statistics. Recent grads have been accepted at an outstanding list of colleges including Stanford and Yale.

So Mammoth now has a reputation beyond quality skiing and outdoor recreation. It has an impressive school district too.

​​​​​​​Thanks for reading!

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