Last Day Of Summer Brings Snow To Mammoth!! Harbinger For Another Big Winter??

Market Summary: September 10 – September 24

The  Mammoth Lakes MLS is reporting 20 real estate closings in Mammoth for the period ranging from a low of $172,500 to a high of

$1,875,000. Of the 20 closings, 18 were financeable properties and 16 

Last Day of Summer 2017

were conventionally financed. Nine of the 20 sales were condos selling under $400,000. The new threshold for “low end” condos is now $400,000. But seven (7) of the closing were homes selling between $560,000 and $835,000. The sales also included two (2) vacant lot sales including a multi-family property. This period last year there were 16 closings, two years ago; 17.

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end the condominium inventory is down 6 to 65. There were 15 new condo listings in the period and seven (7) are already under contract and in escrow.  There are now only six (6) condos listed under $315,000 and they are all 1-bedroom or smaller units. While the condo inventory under $400,000 is dismal for buyers, there are still good properties in the $400,000 to $500,000 range. Buyers looking in the low end of the Mammoth condo market who have hesitated are now compromised. How long this condition will last is unknown. This time last year there were 145 condos on the market. Two years ago the inventory was 172. 

Single Family Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes is down two (2) to 48. There are nine (9) homes listed under $600,000. So far, the buyers are resisting these properties. The better homes under $1M are starting to sell. There were more price reductions. We’ll see what the next few months bring. This time last year there were 73 homes on the market, two years ago; 70.

Pending Transactions

 The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is down seven (7) to 80 at period’s end.  Of the 80 properties in “pending,” there are 66 in “Active Under Contract” status (formerly “back-up”).  The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) is down six (6) to 111. These are interesting numbers. The properties in escrow should be climbing this time of year. The lack of inventory could be the reason. Or the solid activity of the summer could have brought the demand and activity forward. Or maybe buyers are waiting for some notable announcements from the new ownership of the Ski Area. This time last year there were 65 pendings in the Mammoth market and 88 in the aggregate. Two years ago 54 and 71 respectively.

Market Updates and News

 The best news from Mammoth during the period was last Wednesday’s announcement that the Town’s credit rating had moved in a very positive direction. It was just a few years ago that the Town of Mammoth Lakes was in the national news for filing bankruptcy. The bankruptcy never happened. The new “A” credit rating places the Town in the “upper medium grade” of credit status. The Town’s strong economic position the past two years including strong summer business and the lack of substantial long term debt are noted as helping boost the rating. The new rating will help save approx. $2M over the life of the loan from the Airport litigation settlement. It will also allow to Town to get favorable terms for any new facilities borrowing.
Construction has begun at the new Grocery Outlet location on Old Mammoth Road, the old and original site of Grumpy’s. Looking at their website, this is going to make an interesting addition to the community. Mammoth has been begging for decades for a grocery alternative. We’ll see if they can keep the shelves stocked. The Town tried desperately to get them to build workforce housing on the second floor — that will be the plan for Mammoth’s future. So not only will we watch with interest to see if they can keep the shelves stocked, will there be anybody to actually stock the shelves….Apparently Mammoth’s VONS now has a regular transportation mode to bring employees up from Bishop.
​​​​​​​ The Mammoth police will start the process of moving into the new station this next week. The move is described as “gradual.” I was thinking there should be some sort of prize for the first prisoner in Mammoth’s first jail. This is going to save plenty of time and gas for the local police who will no longer have to make the trip an hour north to Bridgeport. The yet-to-be completed police station construction cost is now over $3M. It was suppose to be on a strict $2M budget.
 The Mammoth Town Council was suppose to see new ice rink/MUF cost estimates at this past week’s meeting but the architects weren’t ready. Apparently it will happen at the next meeting Oct. 4. The cost arrangement previously designed by the Council already has Mammoth Lakes Recreation needing to come up with $3.5M in “donations” (it was originally $1M). They “don’t have that capacity.” So the next unknown is whether the Council will find some financial bridge to come up with the money for this already bloated project.
 Based on the original budget and actual expense of the police station construction, the ice rink reality should be pushing well over $15M. Meanwhile, two of the three “hell bent” Town Councilmen who have been pushing this ice rink project have been sitting through the extensive meetings (with me included) of the 2017 Housing Action Plan group (see Other Real Estate News below). They will be soon facing critical decisions about Mammoth’s community housing future. The meetings have exposed the problem as the obvious priority for resources. And “how many locals can we house at the ice rink” may become a political slogan in 2018 as we have three Council seats up for election, including these two members. Housing is destined to be the hot button issue….And for now the scheduled grading and tree removal at Mammoth Creek Park has been put on hold.

Noteworthy Sales

There were nine condo sales under $400,000 with most 1-bedroom units now pushing well over $200,000. Condos with modest upgrades are capturing big prices….
 Like, a 1 bedroom + loft / 2 bath unit at Hidden Valley closed for $360,000. It has some remodeled upgrades but these aren’t recent upgrades. 
 The seven mid-range homes closings indicates this part of the market is starting to sell. There weren’t any “great buys” but there is also no significant indication of serious appreciation in this segment of the market.
​​​​​​​ A vacant lot in Old Mammoth sold for $172,500. This lot was owned for many years by an experienced general contractor in Mammoth. He wanted to build on it but could never figure out how to do it because of the seasonal stream that runs right through the middle of the property. He had it on the market for several years. Eventually it became bank owned. Now someone bought it. It is always interesting to watch these progress…..
 A double lot in the “ghetto” sold for $260,000. It backs to the Shady Rest parcel and has an access easement down one side of the property. It also has some challenging drainage issues. I sold this property some 20+ years ago to a previous owner. Rumor is the new owner is going to build apartments and soon. Another one to watch……

Favorite New Listing For The Period!!

My readers know I like Snowcreek properties. Here is a 2 bedroom / 2 bath and 1-car garage townhome located in Phase V aka The Fairway Homes.

This was one of the last units built in the entire project so

Snowcreek #1001

it has all of the granite counter top upgrades and has the the two kitchen countertops/bar. The property has three decks; one out the front off of the living space and one each off of the bedrooms in the rear. The bottom floor deck spills out to nice green belt area. There is forced air gas heat and a gas fireplace. And a full laundry room.

But what makes this especially appealing are some of the detailed upgrades the owner has made. They wrapped the ceiling with natural tongue-and-groove wood paneling to give the great room a warm, mountainy feel. There is cork flooring in the kitchen and dining. There is built-in storage in the garage. And most of the furniture stays.
​​​​​​​Listed at $589,000
Listing courtesy of Karen Nelson  Realty World​​​​​​​

Other Real Estate News

  The Mammoth Lakes Community Housing Action Plan 2017 working group wrapped up their final sessions this last week. The group will meet with the public on October 6 at Mammoth Brewing. This has been an intensive and ongoing process since spring. The group has been comprised of a variety of community members including Town officials and employees, former Town officials, employees and Board members of Mammoth Lakes Housing, Human Resource representatives from Mammoth Hospital and the Water District, MMSA, MLFD, ML Chamber of Commerce, and more.
The process has been guided by housing consultants very experienced in mountain resort communities, mainly from Colorado resorts. The process has been fully funded by the Ski Area. The process was obviously initiated with the Ski Area sale in sight. The ultimate Plan should guide critical community decisions in the immediate and mid-range future. One thing is clear, the solution to the current housing crises in Mammoth will need to come from a variety of sources. Another; community housing is bound to be a major, if not THE major, issue of the Mammoth 2018 Town Council election where three seats will be up. The Plan will show the need for 600 new housing units now and in the next five years. The most critical need is in the middle-income range — places for teachers, nurses, managers, MLFD volunteers, etc. to live.
Since I have participated in the process, here are some of the likely recommendations;
• Some sort of specific tax referendum/measure needs to come before the voters. Or an increase in TOT (bed tax). The Town needs a substantial, permanent and steady funding source to address housing. And one that can be borrowed against. TOT is ideal because it can be used for anything. And it does not come out of the local resident’s pockets. 
• The 24 acre Shady Rest parcel in the middle of town that is currently zoned for affordable housing must remain available for housing, or substantially available for housing. The Town Council has been in closed session negotiations with the owners of the parcel in the past three months. Either the Town may have an opportunity to purchase the parcel, or the owners want some “market rate” development available. We’ll see what transpires.
​​​​​​​• The Town will proactively support the creation and development of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in the residential zone. These types of units have been referred to as “caretaker” and “granny flat” units in the past. This is consistent with new State law allowing and promoting ADUs as one solution to the state’s housing crises. In Mammoth, property owners will be encouraged to develop or re-develop ADUs, and variances and “amnesty” will be part of the program. The incentives will be there in both existing and new construction. It is estimated that 100-200 new units could be developed in the residential zones. This type of housing has been very successful in Whistler for over 30 years. The new State law allows for ADUs up to 1200 square feet. The current Mammoth square footage is capped at 600 square feet. That may change.
• Long term rentals may come under inspection criteria similar to transient (short term) rental units, primarily looking for health and safety issues. There may also be some amnesty provisions for some substandard properties, and grants and low interest loans available to upgrade older properties.  
• Timelines for developer housing mitigations are likely to be created offering developers in the immediate future fewer (and less costly) mitigations and more onerous mitigations beyond. This is to both incentive development in the short term but to insure adequate mitigations in a strong development cycle. This has been a serious problem in mountain resort communities during boom/bust cycles.
​​​​​​​• A new property management division of Mammoth Lakes Housing may be created to offer property owners full management services and guaranteed rents to encourage more owners to rent long-term as opposed to keeping units on short-term programs or vacant.
•  An ongoing “housing task force” should be established to help drive these and other housing related actions on the public officials.
​​​​​​​Hopefully, all of the time and energy put into this exercise won’t be wasted. The group will be delivering actionable directives to the Council. The ball will be in their court. 

Thanks for reading!

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