Summer Flow Into Summer Full of Music, Alcohol, and Tons of Recreation !

Market Summary:   July 1 – July 15

The  Mammoth Lakes MLS is reporting 18 real estate closings for the period ranging from a low of $221,500 to a high of $970,000. Of the 18 escrow closings, all 18 were financeable properties and 14 were conventionally financed. Thirteen of the 18 closings were condos selling under $450,000. There were no condo hotel units closed. There were three (3) homes closed between $655,000 and $970,000. The 10-year Treasury was basically flat during the period and settled at 2.831% and conventional mortgage rates moved down a bit.

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end the condominium inventory rose another four (4) to 103. That was not the peak of condo inventory during the period. Nicely remodeled condos with hefty price tags appear to be the hot seller of the summer so far. And once the escrow is closed these condos will immediately go into some sort of short term rental program. There were even more condos brought to the market that have only been owned by the present owner for only one to two years –and they aren’t classic “flips.” Most are exactly the same as they were two years ago. The frequency of this is now almost bizarre. There were 29 new condo listings in the period and 10 are already under contract and in escrow. All of the new under-construction Creekhouse units are now spoken for. So maybe they will move another couple buildings forward before the snowstorms come.

Single Family Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes is up seven (7) to 55. There are now 29 homes listed under $1,000,000. A couple of them are barely habitable. And some of the recently listed homes have already seen price reductions of $20,000 or more. It could be the best time in the past 2-3 years to be shopping in this segment of the market, but with a little pressure it may not last.

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is down five (5) to 56 at period’s end. Of the 56 properties in “pending,” there are 4 in “Active Under Contract” status (formerly “back-up”). The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) is down eight (8) at 84. The consensus amongst the local agents and brokers is that the 4th of July period was rather lackluster for real estate activity. Maybe it was how the holiday fell on the calendar or maybe the buyers are waiting to see a good selection of inventory. Or maybe people are just in vacation mode. But the inventory still remains at relatively historic lows.

Market Updates and News

Mammoth Lakes now settles into classic summer weather and activities. Most weekends the major event is based on music and alcoholic beverages. It has proven to be a successful formula…. The on-and-off smoke from forest fires near-and-far has dissipated the past few days. The local area has even had some very pleasant rain that is more than welcome for both air quality and for keeping everything green. The 4th of July parade was as big and popular as ever but the real crowds were spread out over a 10-day period. But now it is on to that string of popular events that make Mammoth summer so enjoyable on top of all the recreational opportunities and normally great weather.

The new Town Council will be seated this next week and there is great hope in the community that the new members will bring more independent thinking and more willingness to challenge to the Town staff. This new Council has serious demands that need immediate action. Under the umbrella of workforce housing they need to determine the future structure and direction of Mammoth Lakes Housing and how to develop actual housing units in the 24 acres of “The Parcel.” (Several of my readers had their own suggestions for the new name, the one I liked the most was Ghetto Meadow.)

The next challenge is the airports(s). With United Airlines now stepping in to replace Alaska Airlines with regular commercial air service including new potential routes including Denver (confirmed), this is back on the front burner in a significant way. I was in Bishop this past week and spoke with two prominent and long-time business poeple and I asked them about the Bishop airport becoming the primary location for commercial air service. Without question they endorse the idea. In fact they see it as the solution to the growing number of commercial vacancies on Main St. and increasing Bishop-specific tourism and bed tax generation.  An article in this weekend’s edition of The Sheet even highlights these discussions and directions in the Bishop community.

So while there has been resistance in the past, the perceived crises has now created opportunity. The new Town Council just has to figure out how to make it happen. A strong commercial air service commitment certainly helps. And a commitment to a more reliable airport should reinforce the air service. And maybe there will be more buy-in from Bishop. Hopefully we are heading in this direction. We all look forward to seeing this new Council in action.

Meanwhile, as the flow of Mammoth second homeowners and regular visitors has increased the most common question is “What is the new company doing, or going to do??”  Even those who have the ear of the current Mammoth Mountain executives say they are clueless as to the intentions. So it all remains a mystery for now. I was in a meeting this past week where someone alluded to “all of the development coming.” But I have plenty of Sherwin Bowl Ski Area and Ritz-Carlton memorabilia to remind me of reality. But they are quietly doing something at Canyon Lodge; they have jack hammered out the entire entrance and what appears to be most of the atrocious and infamous stairs. What will replace it?? We’ll find out soon enough. Maybe Alterra just wants to quietly do things and not talk about things (that never come to fruition). That would be refreshing.

The new Starbucks (old McDonald’s) is looking good. They are definitely putting some money into the project. But this will be fascinating to watch. With Starbuck’s new social responsibility and “open restrooms” policies added with the convenient “entry to town” location and proximity to Shady Rest Park and the nearby forest, the possibilities are endless. Luckily for Mammoth the new police station and courthouse are right there. Hopefully we don’t end up with our own version of a tent city.

The upper Main St. sidewalk project was completed just before the 4th of July. Pedestrians were already using the new sidewalk before the construction crews were even gone. In three summers they removed all of the major power lines, replaced the old and ugly retaining walls, added decorative lighting and the new sidewalk and shuttle stop. It was a collaborative project and a serious enhancement to this part of Mammoth. Now if we could just get the old La Sierra building condemned and removed.

The old CJ’s restaurant property has new ownership and will be re-opened as The Warming Hut, “Scratch Made Food” and open for breakfast and lunch. My brokerage was located next door for 24 years and I watched five different owners (remember the Swiss Cafe?) run successful operations in this location. The new owners are a young couple with local restaurant experience and I wish them well and a long tenure in the location.  

My Mammothrealestateblog.comsite has been active for the past 13 years. As the owner of an active blogsite with solid Google rankings I receive many solicitations for “guest postings.” These postings aren’t Mammoth specific and are mostly fluff (like “5 Ways To Clean Your Rain Gutters”). I’ve passed, my readers expect more. But in the last month I have been receiving solicitations for guest postings that actually want to pay mefor placement. Hmmm….

Noteworthy Sales

More condo sales during the period but a couple standout; the sale of a Courchevel back row unit for $339,000. This is a 2 bedroom / 2 bath townhome with a private 1-car garage. This is a pretty easy walk to Canyon Lodge and the unit was not in bad condition with some modernization. Seems like a good buy, but these are typically winter sales.

The next was the sale of a 2 bedroom + loft / 4 bath unit at Sierra Park Villas. This unit has been totally remodeled and upgraded and has nice southern views and orientation. It has been a very strong rental since the remodel. It closed for $450,000. But it sold just 10 months ago for $405,000.

The infamous “Smothers Bothers” house in Old Mammoth closed for $655,000. It was on the market for 717 days this time around. History says it was the comedians party house way back in the 1960’s and 70’s. It has been sold and resold and remodeled over the years. It is one of the most unconventional homes in all of Mammoth. I’ve always said “if the walls could speak.”  I hope the new owners can live up to the home’s eccentric past.

And the home at 43 Valley Vista sold for $900,000. I sold this home three different times before 2004 and it has had a succession of owners and remodels. For some reason the buyers keep coming back.

Favorite New Listing For The Period!

There is some pretty good residential inventory (currently 17 properties) building in the $600-900,000 price range.
Odds are many of them will sell between now and Thanksgiving.  Here’s one that has plenty of redeeming and somewhat unique qualities. It is a 3 bedroom plus den / 3 bath home with large 2-car garage with an extra work/storage room off of the garage. All in an efficient 1950 square feet. It was built in 1980 so it is bit older but it was built well to begin with; open beam design, wood encasement windows, etc..  
It is located on a quiet residential street between the Village and Eagle Base. It sits up high and has great light and airy views to the east and south. A lovely deck perfect for hanging out or sitting in the spa. It has forced air heating and a fireplace in the living room and a woodburner in the den. The den has two large bunk sets. Uniquely, it has 2 bedrooms and 2 baths upstairs. This could work for an accessory unit (mother-in-law) downstairs and a private 2/2 home upstairs. The existing floorplan has rare flexibility. Sold furnished.    
Listed at $839,000


Other Real Estate News

One of the websites I enjoy visiting from time-to-time is Strong Towns. It is a site more of Mammoth’s community leaders should spend time perusing. Or become indoctrinated with. The author of a recent column is Charles Marohn and he is an engineer and a Certified Planner. He recently wrote a column “Let’s Do This First” dated July 2, 2018. The column specifically covers many of the planning issues in his own town of Brainerd, Minn. But the concepts are easily transferred to the Town of Mammoth Lakes.

He sums up “Let’s Do This First” like this; “It’s doing the little things first that gives you credibility to do big things later. It’s taking small steps now that demonstrates competence to take larger steps in the future. It’s doing the obvious thing sitting in front of your face that gives you clarity of vision to fully comprehend that more distant challenge. We earn the right to do big things by doing the little things well.”

The Sheet recently quoted Kurt Vonnegut, “Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.”  That quote so ironically divides the leaders in Mammoth with the common man in Mammoth. Mammoth is one big maintenance project and almost everybody is involved. Except for the couple of dozen who think they know how to “fix” Mammoth.

Mammoth needs to recognize this human flaw. We actually have a fantastic little town in one of the most majestic mountain settings in all of the world. We’ll never be some centuries old French Alpine town like we see on the Tour de France. They are pretty old towns and they must be rather decrepit in many ways. We’ll never be the host to the world’s economic elites like Aspen, Sun Valley or Davos. But that level of snobbery would be intolerable to most who live and play here in Mammoth. The people who love Mammoth are here for something else. So why can’t we just do some maintenance and ‘earn the right’ to do bigger things when the solid opportunities avail themselves??

The Town fathers have grandiose projects and visions but they can’t execute the basics like Main St. landscape design and maintenance, basic code enforcement, painting the lines on the streets and assuring the bike paths remain rideable. And much more.

And many of the grandiose plans end up in litigation, and Mammoth has a long (and consistent) history of losing. Most people don’t realize the Ice Rink/MUF would have probably ended up in court. People in a rush get sloppy.

So let’s hope our new Council can rally the leaders of this town to take Mr. Marohn’s advice; “We earn the right to do big things by doing the little things well.

Thanks for reading!

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