Football On TV, Kids Back In School & Ski Magazines In The Mail…

Market Summary: August 14 – August 28

The Mammoth MLS is reporting 16 real estate closings in Mammoth Lakes for the period ranging from a low of $147,500 to a high of $1,000,000. Of the 16 closings, 14 were financeable properties and nine (9) were conventionally financed.

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end the condominium inventory is even at 160. There were 12 new condos brought to the market during the period and only one looks familiar. There are only seven (7) condos listed under $200,000.

Single Family Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes is even at 76. From my anecdotal observations it appears that condos are currently being shown to perspective buyers but not many homes.

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is up three (3) to 71 at period’s end. Of the 71 properties in “pending,” there is one (1) “contingent short sale” property and 55 are in “back-up” status. The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) is even for the period at 107.

Market Updates and News

The BIG summer crowds have vanished and even the weekend crowds are on the light side. Based on bookings the upcoming Labor Day weekend should be solid. But Mammoth has moved into the “adult” part of summer. The weather has been splendid if not a bit cool. The smoke has been minimal there have even been some light rain.

The headine of this newsletter, “Football on TV, Kids back in school, and ski magazines in the mail,” is what I have told people for years is what triggers the pre-winter sales of real estate in Mammoth. It is that time of year. Summer is mentally over for many (not me). Labor Day weekend is normally the peak of condo and home inventory in the Mammoth market. Activity has ticked up already but not substantially. And soon I’ll be getting those calls from people, “hey, I want to come up and see that property you told me about a couple of months ago.”…. sorry, it is already sold….

The Forest Service is officially looking for public comment on the Main Lodge Base Land Exchange. The detailed Forest Service documents now show that the exchange land is 30+ acres but that includes approx. 10 acres of sewage ponds that service the Main Lodge and the other facilities in the area. It is almost ironic that the Forest Service decided to include these “ponds” in the exchange; the Ski Area apparently tried to leave them in government ownership but now they will be stuck with the sh!T. Thank God somebody is paying attention.

I encourage Mammoth property owners to make comment. I would especially encourage comments to be in favor of the exchange but with a couple of caveats. The Eagle Gondola system linking Eagle Base and North Village to the core of the Ski Area must be completed before the exchange is completed. I wrote a column some 21 months ago explaining why. The “lead” Forest Service agent has changed in that time but the reasons haven’t.

The second caveat is that the Main Lodge property MUST be appraised in a fair and equitable manner. It is valuable public land and will be traded for land that is far less valuable. Forest Service land exchanges are notoriously corrupt. And especially when the proponent of the exchange attempts to “steer” the appraisals of the subject lands. There is a long history of this. I have witnessed it firsthand.

Please make a comment if you have the time.

So far the “changes” coming to Mammoth are nothing but lip service; “moving forward” seems to be coming out of everybody’s mouth (including the local journalists) but so far nobody has any clue how to move forward. The Ski Area is trying to get the Town to work directly their planning firm Hart | Howerton. That would be a good start. Despite some recent hires, the Town’s planning staff is woefully inadequate to take on the tasks that are potentially going to be thrown at them.

The question I keep getting is “How will all of this impact real estate values?” I’ve written a Q&A column for next week’s issue of The Sheet that addresses this. But the core theme of the column is about leadership. None of this can even begin to happen without some strong leadership from Mammoth Mountain and the community. Rusty Gregory has to be at the center of all of this. He has to give it 100%. I’m not sure he has it. We’ll see. I’m still amazed he got the Village Gondola completed.

From the community we need leadership who has real vision and is willing to assess and take some risks. The “vision” is not just some buzz word. As a planning commissioner through the most intense planning years in Mammoth’s history (1990-98) I witnessed that many people simply can’t envision things. Even with artist renderings and CAD they simply can’t envision the changes. The leadership must be able to envision the changes. Without that there is constant hesitation. And you have to move beyond the people who can’t envision these things.

There is also risk assessment. There are some leaps-of-faith in all of what is being proposed. Structuring a “deal” with the Shady Rest property owner for a new ice rink/MUF location will take some guts and there will be plenty of risk averse people who will strongly oppose it. The Mammoth Creek Park EIR may make the decision easier. Or the threat of litigation from the surrounding homeowners. Aggressively negotiating for a real Village parking structure will also take real strength. The local residents can’t be financially compromised to get it done or else it won’t be supported. And the neighboring NIMBYS will make the decision makers feel shameful.

The Mammoth Times called the upcoming tasks “heavy lifting.” I despise the modern cliches. This is going to take serious critical thinking and broad dialogue. And some real guts. Without strong leadership, nothing will happen. We’ll see what the coming months bring….

The Town Council recently agreed to fund a Special Events coordinator position. The success (and challenges) of events like Bluesapalooza have proven that the promotion of events and assuring the events are well planned and coordinated is of great financial benefit to the entire community (unless the hordes of people drive us to the brink). Now they have to define the job description and start the query.

Outside Magazine recently published “The 5 Least Livable Ski Towns in the USA.” At least Mammoth Lakes didn’t make the list. The high cost of living and high home prices are what make these towns “least livable.” The winners/losers are Aspen, Jackson, Ketchum, Stowe and Park City.

Noteworthy Sales

Closed sales during the period included two vacant lots. Unimproved residential have sold better in the past 12 months than in the previous years. But the values are down. Most of the recent sales have been by buyers who intend to build within the next 2-3 years. Reality is that it takes the better part of a year to “figure out” what to do on the lot. From visioning to plans to engineering to construction contracts just takes time. And there is no need to rush. And then there is a limited warm building season.

Two other closed sales were low-end homes, both under $410,000. There are only three homes listed for sale in Mammoth under $500,000.

Another income property sold for a substantial price, this one in Old Mammoth. This duplex had extra garages for increased rental income.

The high sale of the period ($1,000,000) was a 3 bedrooms / 3 baths condo hotel property in Village. These big Village units have been hot sellers in the past 18 months. They generate significant rents and often have premier locations. The selling performance of these properties is another example of buyers and investors “chasing yield.” Hopefully it works out for everyone.

Other Real Estate News

Aspen Market and this sales report!

Thanks for reading!

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