Excellent Winter And Spring Ski Condition Highlight The Period!

Market Summary: April 15 – April 29


The  Mammoth Lakes MLS is reporting 17 real estate closings in Mammoth for the period ranging from a low of
$252,000 to a high of $1,500,000. Of the 17 closings, 16 were technically  financeable properties and 10 were conventionally financed. There were two condo hotel properties sold with “conventional” financing and that is a new trend. Although not true conventional financing (loans sold to the secondary mortgage market), these increasingly popular mortgages available for condo hotel properties are typically ~30% down and the 7/1 or 10/1 ARM variety. There were three high-end condo sales. The high sale of the period was a vacant residential lot. The 10-year Treasury flirted with 3% this past week and settled slightly under — if this trend continues, the 7/1 and 10/1  ARM loans may become increasingly popular in the balance of the market.

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end the condominium inventory is up six (6) to 60 and includes a new under-construction “Morrison” plan at Creekhouse that overlooks the Mammoth Creek riparian area (see below). There were 14 new condo listings in the period and three (3) are already under contract and in escrow. Tourism and the local real estate market have both slowed in the past two weeks. We should expect new condo listings in the coming months (it is that time of year) and a whole new round of price discovery.  

Single Family Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes is up four (4) 39. The least expensive home in Mammoth is priced at $604,000. But there are now 12 homes listed under $949,000, so the residential segment of the market is beginning to see new listings as well. We’ll see more as we move into summer.

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is down 12 to 41 at period’s end. Of the 41 properties in “pending,” there are 27 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 67. So these numbers would indicate the market activity has slowed down. Perhaps it is exhausted from the heated market activity of the past six months.

Market Updates and News

The ski crowds are gone (except last weekend) but the skiing has been fantastic. The Mountain has closed down to a handful of operating lifts but there has been plenty of accessible terrain. This past week was superb spring-type conditions with windows of magical turns on almost every run. The week before had winter-like conditions following a nice snowstorm and cooler temps. And there were new (and enthusiastic) Ikon Pass holders out taking runs on next year’s pass. And a variety of US Ski Team members out on the runs too. It was great to have the opportunity to be part of it.
And of course, this weekend’s fishing opener brought cooler and unsettled weather. But it didn’t stop anybody from skiing or fishing (at least Saturday, today was a blow-out). And I’m sure plenty of visitors and local residents did both. Meanwhile, snow stakes are being pulled, the golf courses are watering and the usual spring turnover has begun. Town Clean Up is May 12.  
With slower tourism the Town Council race and local initiatives are getting more attention, and it is heating up. There are several open forums planned for the next two weeks and the latest chapter of the Ice Rink/MUF fiasco may turn the discussions downright surly. In the past few days the poor decisions made by local public officials (past and present) are now being focused (blamed) on the ineptitude of Town employees and staff. And the Ice Rink/MUF now stands as a classic case. And the fallout should raise some serious questions for and from the Council candidates.
The Ice Rink/MUF project garnered two bids (thankfully) and they were close. The Town expected as many as five. They came in at $18.8 and $19.8 million. And these are the “base” bids. Wow. Add in 10% contingency, the ~$1M already spent, the interest on the existing bond (approx. $1.5M), and plenty of “extras” (like a Zamboni) and now this becomes a $25+ million project. So the first question should be; how could the Town staff be so delusional about what this is really going to cost?? This started as an approximately $1M project to relocate the ice rink to Mammoth Creek Park.
One of the first tasks the new Council needs to consider is to replace the Town’s public works director. He was the one who told me to my face that he “wasn’t concerned about the cost of constructing the project” but was concerned about the ongoing energy costs. How could he be so out-of-touch?? But now we may never discover the nightmare of those ongoing energy costs. The recent invitation for these project bids estimated (“the engineer’s estimate”) that the base bid would be between $9.5 and $10M.
​​​​​​​ Mayor John Wentworth blamed the high bids on President Trump and his meddling in steel tariffs. But did that really add $10M to the cost of the project? He says we need to move to Plan B. So what does Plan B look like?? Maybe they need to take the hint that the School District land that the existing ice rink is on can be in play. The Q&A column I wrote three years agoconcluded the most logical location is the current location. And wouldn’t the MUF portion of this project be logically located adjacent to the schools?? This location makes even more sense now that the Wounded Warrior Center (Eastern Sierra Disabled Sports) and the Mammoth Arts & Cultural Center (Mammoth Lakes Foundation) are being proposed in the same vicinity.
And if the public officials are looking at staff performance, they should look beyond public works and look at planning (“community development”). This whole concept has violated the basic public planning principles of a small mountain resort community. It was aptly described as a “vanity project.”
Another irony, the original thinking by the Council was to eliminate the $38,000 annual rent for the land underneath the existing ice rink. Now we have arrived at a project that would require $120,000 or more in MONTHLY bond payments. And thousands per month in energy costs. Maybe the Council candidates should be asking the town manager if he is a little too chummy with the bond counsel??
So the pot has been adequately stirred for the upcoming candidate forums. Maybe some of the voters will pay attention. And maybe more will come to realize why so little new construction has happened in the past 10 years; it is just too damn expensive to improve real estate in Mammoth Lakes unless you have the experience and magic of John Hooper, or the wealth behind these new custom luxury homes, or the risk taking appetite of Grocery Outlet. The Town has none of these.  
But I can’t wait to see how Plan B evolves. And there might be a whole different group of people guiding it. And maybe others have been humbled and enlightened. We’ll see.
Mammoth Mountain announced last week that the bike park will allow electric bikes this summer. These so called e-bikes (“pedal assist”) have become increasingly popular around Mammoth in the past few summers. They simply allow people a fantastic cycling experience without the threat of killing themselves. And now it can be carried up to the trails and features of the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park. I see lots of e-bikes in Mammoth’s future. Maybe that is the Tesla charging station’s future. Please wear a helmet.

Noteworthy Sales

A vacant residential lot closing for $1,500,000 is always noteworthy. Located in the Juniper Ridge subdivision overlooking the Valentine Reserve. Now you just need another $4 or $5M to build the house….
A small but very nicely remodeled “A” frame house with golf course frontage closed for $740,000.
There were nine condominium closings under $500,000. Some prices up, some flat.
A large Bridges townhome closed at $1,050,000, an end unit with great southern views, remodeled kitchen, and good access to the ski run. It had multiple offers the first weekend it was on the market.

Favorite New Listing For The Period!

   This is Creekhouse #1537 and it is obviously under construction. I’m guessing it won’t be completed until fall but it should be ready for Thanksgiving and beyond. This is the Morrison plan and it is one of my favorite floor plans in all of Mammoth. It is has 3 bedrooms and 3.5 baths and a 2-car garage. Each bedroom has a separate private deck and bathroom.  There is also a large, covered wrap-around deck that is adjacent to the great room.
The floor plan uniquely features the garage, the utility “mud room” area, the spacious entry, the kitchen, dining room, living room, a powder room, and one of the bedroom/baths all on the same level. Great for living and perfect for any special needs (including worn-out knees). The private road behind the unit opens up the view that includes the Mammoth Creek riparian area, a large pond, and views up to Mammoth Mountain.  A 3% deposit will hold it until completion. 
Listed at $899,000
Courtesy of The Snowcreek Property Company​​​​​​​


Other Real Estate News

My readers know I closely follow the evolution (or is it revolution?) of the VRBO and Airbnb phenomenon on the nightly rental industry. It is an important facet of Mammoth real estate. The industry pundits are calling the current market condition as Competition and Disruption. So here are some of the interesting technology and trends that are feeding the change;
• A new device called the Party Squasheris a sensor that counts the number of mobile devices within the detection range (namely your property). The basic idea is that everyone has a mobile device, so the owner/operator of the property knows how many devices (people) are in the property at one time. This way if the the property is “stacked” or entertaining a large number of people (a party) the owner will know and can react accordingly. 
• An Alexa-type device will increasingly be a key amenity in the rental property to inform guests about the day’s weather, what the coffee options are, where the day’s best happy hour, entertainment and special events are, etc..
• “Dynamic pricing” is becoming increasingly available to even the individual owner due to new pricing tools, software and apps designed to evaluate demand and the competitors current pricing models. 
​​​​​​​• There is a “ubiquity of choice” for both the renter and the owner. Renters have an ever increasing variety of properties to choose from. Owners have an ever increasing variety of management options.
• The renting consumer is waking up to the fact that they are paying extra for booking through VRBO and Airbnb. So they will increasingly look to book directly with the owner. So more proactive owners will look to book through their own websites, through a Facebook page and their own database. And the influence of “regional listing sites” will grow.
• Renters will increasingly seek an “experience” rental and they expect quality accommodations and hassle-free service. They will also be looking for “full service stays” (“living like a local” is over) without any layers of complexity or problems. Remote door locks and “fridge filling” options will become standard.
• The immediate future will see continued industry turnover and company acquisitions. The management profit margins will be under greater pressure (boy, Mammoth has seen plenty of these two!).
• New property owners have a big question to answer; Who is going to manage this property and how? There is a myriad of choices…..
  Competition and Disruption, alive and well here in Mammoth Lakes.
Thanks for reading!

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