Major Storms Load Mammoth With Snow Piles And Record Crowds!!

Market Summary: January 1 – January 15

The Mammoth MLS is reporting 13 real estate closings in Mammoth Lakes for the period ranging from a low of $190,000 to a high of $750,000. Of the 13 closings, 11 were financeable properties and 10 were conventionally financed….Almost identical stats with the period before. Ten of the 13 closings were condos under $385,000. The 10-year treasury rate dropped during the period and conventional mortgage rates for second homes have settled just above 4%. Still historically cheap.

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end the condominium inventory is down three (3) to 114. There were nine (9) new condos brought to the market during the period, and almost all are new to the market. There are still two condos listed for sale under $200,000. There are nine (9) condos listed under $250,000.

Single Family Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes is down three (3) to 47. Again, there is only one home listed under $500,000 and it has major damage. There are now only six (6) homes listed between $500K and $600K.

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is up one (1) to 37 at period’s end. Of the 37 properties in “pending,” there are 28 are in “back-up” status. The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) is up six (6) for the period at 70.

Market Updates and News

The period was like a tale of two weeks. The first week was an extension of the busy holiday period. And maybe the busiest of the three weeks of holiday. But the weather wasn’t the best of the holiday period. There were plenty of persistent real estate lookers; some because they apparently had nothing better to do. The second week was a snow fest and many visitors were simply told to leave or not to come. The Ski Area experienced a very rare complete closure last Sunday due to lightning. There was limited lift operation most of the week due to weather.

Some major reservation companies unilaterally canceled all reservations for last weekend. That is another rare occurrence. The weather forecasts for Saturday and Sunday were so bad and potentially dangerous that they canceled reservations on Thursday and Friday and told people not to come. The Town of Mammoth Lakes also issued flood and blizzard warnings and suggested people should not be here. They also warned local residents and visitors “to stay at home” (and yet people still wanted to see condos).

I’m sure everybody knows that several separate storms, all tapping tropical moisture dumped significant snow on the Eastern Sierra. The Sunday storm was rain that soaked into the snowpack and caused the flooding danger in the lower elevations. The last storm that finally cleared on Friday dropped much lighter snow. The period ended where it started; Martin Luther King weekend was/is sunny and with a massive crowd in town. Based on how far down the cars were parked on Hwy. 203, Meridian Blvd., and the streets below Canyon Lodge (including some with buried “No Parking” signs), yesterday was a record day on Mammoth Mountain.

The town was a mess this past week. It is difficult for the various snow removal operations to keep up with such a volume of snow over a short period. The rain drenched snow created numerous snow removal equipment failures especially with the smaller “Bobcat” blowers that have become so prevalent. There was also a desperate call for snow shovelers. Caltrans was busy with Hwy. 395 so Main St. and the road to the Main Lodge were marginally cleared. The Town actually had their portion of the snow removal cleaned up rather quickly. But we’ve become accustomed to that. Kudos.

With the bulk of the snow removal operations now or close to completion the town is ready for more storms. And it looks like they are coming. Local property managers will now have to keep an eye on the roof snow loads. Some of it is rain soaked snow so it could be deceptively heavy. And ice dams could form quickly. The volume of snow on the ground will pack down making room for more. Mammoth is very good at cleaning up after big snowstorms. This was an impressive set of storms.

Various agencies are already reporting on the positive impact to reservoirs and the biggest reservoir, the Sierra snowpack. The snowpack and water content appears to be about two-thirds of a normal winter at this point. Nobody is ready to call the end of the prolonged drought but there has already been enough precipitation to make a significant difference. Let’s hope the storm door remains open.

As these weather events have settled down there is local concern that the hyperbole of great snow conditions being promoted on the Ski Area’s websites and social media are drawing visitors to town while there are hazardous conditions on the roads and in the area in general. It is being described “as a fine line.” People lose their minds (and sometimes their lives) for the opportunity at some choice powder runs.

The massive crowd this weekend is clearly a result of all the promotion. Thankfully the town is cleaned up (and relatively safe) and the weather superb. The buzz heading back down south after it is all over will be priceless.

On the flip side, during the last month I have heard repeated complaints about the price of lift tickets under the new “dynamic pricing” scheme. Before Christmas it seems like the price was just under $150 per day. After Christmas it rose into the $154-5 range. That’s nuts, but obviously people are paying it. I also received an email from Mammoth Resorts announcing the sale of a Quad Pack — 4 days of skiing for only $399 with no blackout dates. And they don’t need to be successive days. That seems like a compromise.

But I asked one party who was complaining why they just didn’t purchase a ski pass for $699 in the spring?? They had no clue. At these steep dynamic prices the payoff comes quick. And it is good in Big Bear too (whoopee!). Seriously, visitors who plan to come for the holiday period are fools not to buy these passes. It makes a few subsequent weekends of skiing for free. And brings them back to Mammoth. That is the whole point.

I’m betting the same people who don’t read the road reports are the same ones who don’t optimize their lift ticket purchasing….

Noteworthy Sales

A pretty blasé bunch of closings during the period. A top floor 1-bedroom at Juniper Springs Lodge closed for $260,000. That is a recent high for that floorplan in that project. But the original pricing for these units (at the “launch”) had increases of $10,000 per floor. So a top floor unit should be more valuable.

The sale of a clean 3 bedroom / 2 bath home on Silver Tip Lane for $579,000 is probably a good buy. The home has been on-and-off the market for years but obviously priced too high in the past. But in the current market conditions, a worthy purchase.

And a sale at Sunshine Village once again displays that buyers will pay significant prices for units in updated and “turn-key” condition.

Other Real Estate News

Despite all of the tourism and weather, the ice rink/MUF is creeping back into the spotlight. As previous reported here, the draft EIR has been released and is open for comments until Feb. 13. And people are awaking from their holiday stupor to start questioning the ~$11M price tag for the new facility.

One letter-to-the-editor last week from a second homeowner questioned “Are there better ways to spend $11M in Mammoth Lakes?” Funny, I had already compiled a list, along with the opportunity cost. But so far the press hasn’t asked the power-that-be how they actually propose to pay for this new facility. They certainly have to finance this level of expenditure. And with the Town’s presumably marginal credit rating the monthly payments will be staggering. Plug that into your mortgage calculator.

But this week we discovered why the question hasn’t been asked or answered. Apparently our Town Manager and finance guru is in Uganda on a “church mission.” This question is one the Council is going to face in the coming months. I can’t wait for the answer.

Meanwhile, in reviewing the Draft EIR I noticed that my submitted comments were not included. So I contacted Sandra Moberly of the Town planing staff as to why. She said she hadn’t received them. So I produced a copy of the email that the Town had in-fact received them. So she looked into it further.

Well come to find out that the “Plan Mammoth Park’ website and request for comments doesn’t communicate with the Town’s planning department on the project EIR comments. How convenient. The comments emanating from the Plan Mammoth Park website apparently just go into the round bin and aren’t considered worthy of the Draft EIR (even though an official letter from the Town sent to surrounding homeowners clearly stated to make comments to the Plan Mammoth park website address). Serious comments are only considered if they are sent directly to Moberly.

Luckily, there is still time to comment on the project EIR. But the arrangement is quite deceptive. I wonder how many other commenters got fooled.

And more meanwhile, at the last Council meeting the members went into closed session to discuss the negotiations and potential purchase of the Shady Rest parcel. I’m taking bets on who might finance this deal; the owner or Mammoth Mountain? Or?

So my only last question is; If the Council decides to move the ice rink/MUF project to the Shady Rest land can we use the same EIR?? Would anybody notice?

Happy Inauguration Week!

Thanks for reading!

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