Praying For Snow To Get More More Runs Open For Thanksgiving!

Market Summary: November 6 – November 20

The Mammoth MLS is reporting 22 real estate closings in Mammoth Lakes for the period ranging from a low of $74,000 to a high of $1,994,598. Of the 22 closings, 14 were financeable properties and eight (8) were conventionally financed and one (1) owner financed. My financing metric will now take on new light as the 10-year Treasury rate has spiked significantly (~.5%) in the past two weeks. The jump in rates could cause hesitation or urgency. We’ll see. There was one (1) short sale closing in the period.

The mix of sales looks familiar; seven (7) condos under $315,000, three (3) high-end homes (including another Grey Bear home), a trip-plex income property, and the oddity–five (5) residential vacant lots.

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end the condominium inventory is up two (2) to 114. There were 11 new condos brought to the market during the period. They are all new to the market. There are still only two (2) condos listed for sale under $200,000.

Single Family Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes is down 11 to 55. It is typical for homes to come off the market for the colder/snowy season. This is often a mistake, because this is when the strongest pool of buyers show up in the market.

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is down 13 to 51 at period’s end. Of the 51 properties in “pending,” there are 38 are in “back-up” status. The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) is down one (1) for the period at 79.

Market Updates and News

The weather forecast keeps changing; snow in, snow out. There is the possibility for some substantial inches overnight tonight. That would help. Those that want to ski want the snow, there aren’t enough runs open. Those that still have foundations to pour (Grey Bear) and windows and siding to install are praying for it to stay nice. With the election over it is now snow conditions that will drive the Mammoth real estate market.

Last weekend’s Ski Area opener/Veteran’s Day weekend was well attended. The crowd on the slopes was twice what they anticipated. There were just enough runs open (barely) to accommodate the few thousand hungry skiers and snowboarders. And yes, I heard it was great. I also heard there was a long line at the emergency room at Mammoth Hospital. And it is always nice to get a little money flowing in town after the fall doldrums.

Thanksgiving weekend is currently booked in the 65% range. Some new snow could increase that, but Thanksgiving is traditionally an “owner’s weekend” because of slack rental demand, overall owner usage, and many owners taking the time to make final preparations for winter and the “big” holiday period next month.

Mammoth Resorts CEO Rusty Gregory was in front of the Town Council this past week with a “state of business” report. Business is apparently great because revenue is at an all-time high, but that does include two new ski mountains under the umbrella. Gregory talks more and more like a CEO preparing for an IPO.

Most people, like myself, really don’t care what is happening in Big Bear and remotely care what is happening at June Mountain. So what is the immediate future here in Mammoth? Apparently the corporation is now attempting to reverse the damages done by equity fund-style management the past 10 years. Gregory said they are focused on “putting things back that were stripped out” including the Mammoth University management training. And there will be a re-emphasis on guest services (don’t you love it?).

He announced that they have closed escrow and re-acquired the Sierra Star parcel that will allow them to start planning for the development of a hotel in Sierra Star. There is also $12M earmarked for a Canyon Lodge renovation. And to enhance summer business they intend to build a multi-million dollar zip line that will run from the top gondola station to the bottom of Chair 1. And the Main Lodge property exchange continues. Seems like the story is always changing.

Gregory also stated that their plans to pursue the Mammoth Tech Initiative continue in earnest. They are finalizing a lease in the Sierra Center mall to create a co-op work center, basically sponsoring the initial campus to ignite the Tech Initiative. They will be pushing more tech related educational programs including coding classes and venture capital/start-up relationships. He believes that Mammoth is uniquely positioned between the tech hubs of Silicon Valley, the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Reno (Tesla), and within close proximity of 2.5 to 3 million tech workers.

Meanwhile, the Town Council has authorized staff to commence deeper negotiations with the owners of the 23 acre parcel in the center of town known as Shady Rest. This parcel has long been zoned for affordable housing. But now the new planning direction may be to create a mixed-use plan that would include the ice rink/MUF facility that is currently being planned for Mammoth Creek Park. The outside planning consultants believe the placement of the ice rink/MUF in this location would spearhead the Main St. revitalization movement.

The Council is being pushed for higher densities of affordable housing to accommodate the multi-purpose facility. That works for smaller units of housing but the parcel was always conceived as a prime spot for “middle-income” affordable housing, a critical need in Mammoth Lakes. One plan that I was involved with back in the 1990’s included dozens of zero-lot line homes in this area to fill that specific need.

In the coming months the Council will begin to see the limitations (and potential litigation) of placing the ice rink/MUF at Mammoth Creek Park and will begin seeing the opportunities to place it at the Shady Rest parcel. It may all come down to where the Ski Area wants to see it located. They are a big proponent of the Main St. revitalization and the Tech Initiative is the potential driver for making some real progress towards change. I hope the staff is skilled enough to see a win-win-win negotiation for the parcel.

Speaking of the Tech Initiative, I’m seeing more and more articles discussing what may become the unforeseen attraction to Mammoth–the lack of commuting and traffic. High real estate prices and harry commutes in the Bay Area and L.A. are becoming increasingly unappealing for tech workers. Those pushing the Tech Initiative better start pushing for more housing; Mammoth’s long-term rentals are already in a serious shortage…..And someone recently asked me if I thought the Millennial tech workers were tough enough to spend much time here in Mammoth during the winter?? Maybe there is a limiting factor…..

The past election maps showed Mono County as a “blue” county while Inyo County to the south as a “red” county. This is interesting. When I moved to Mammoth 35 years ago the County was about 90% republican. Times have changed.

Last week at former client called and asked about the California Fly Fishing Club listing. I said “What?” This was totally off my radar. I haven’t fished for trout in many years but I remember fishing above the Arcularius and Alpers Ranches and fishing the upper Owens above Benton Crossing Road. But this area is not familiar. Probably because it is a private fly fishing ranch. The listing is for one share of a 25 share corporation that owns and manages the property. $700,000 gets you the right to fish some very good looking water.

Noteworthy Sales

Most of Mammoth remains in a bargain zone. The only “high” priced sale for the period was an Old Mammoth (and old) triplex income property that closed at another very high multiple. Investors continue to hunt for yield. If rents can go up then this may work out. Even though long-term rental supply is tight, the Mammoth economy doesn’t (and likely won’t) support a substantial increase in rents. Mammoth is also very transient in nature so higher rents lead to quicker vacancies. Maybe the techies will change it all.

Two side-by-side lots in The Bluffs sold. So we’ll probably see another monster home built like the one down the street on two lots. There are few more lots in escrow. It has been a solid fall for vacant lot sales. Of course, the prices are dirt (ha) cheap.

Four unit in Snowcreek closed, all for average prices. Two Westin units closed escrow including one of the premier 2 bedroom units. A few properties that have been on the market for many months/years closed escrow. And again all at fairly “soft” prices.

Other Real Estate News

HGTV was in town last weekend shooting for an episode of Log Cabin Living. The producers of the show wanted to shoot a segment in one of my listings. I thought it might be an enlightening experience and it certainly couldn’t hurt to give the property some additional exposure. The property owner agreed and I agreed to facilitate the filming.

I met the 7-person crew at the property at 8:00 am. I was early and they were already there. They were all under 30 years old except for one older gentleman. They were all very friendly and eager to get to work. I turned on all the lights and the camera men loaded the garage with equipment and two young gals went through the property to make things “right.” The camera men starting walking through the property with their cameras looking for the best angles, etc.

Within an hour the “stars” arrived; the Mammoth real estate agent and her clients who had recently purchased a log home in Mammoth. The show was recreating the process. These clients didn’t originally look at my listing but the producers liked it because they thought it will be visually interesting. The crew was anxious to get shooting so I left.

The crew shot all day. It was dark when they left. The stars left about mid-day but the crew set up in various locations to do extra shooting. They worked very hard and were professional. I was impressed. Ultimately, the day of shooting, all of the energy and expense, will run “four to five minutes in a 26 minute program.”

Hopefully the episode will shine a good light on Mammoth. The one cameraman told me he got some good bear footage. It was also the weekend of the Super Moon. So plenty of good visual opportunities…..and maybe it will help sell the property.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanks for reading!

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