Storm Cycle Continues And Mammoth Is Buried!!  

Market Summary:   February 3 — February 17

The Mammoth Lakes MLS is reporting 16 real estate closings for the past two week period ranging from a low of $135,000 to a high of $1,640,000. Of the 16 escrow closings, 12 were financeable properties and nine (9) were conventionally financed. There were nine (9) condominium sales under $500,000. The 10-year Treasury yield moved slightly downward to 2.666%. Mortgage rates continue to nudge downward. There are improved financing options for condo hotel properties with some programs offering almost conventional-type rates and down payments. And that includes refinance opportunities too. That could allow some condo hotel owners the opportunity to pull some cash out. And these financing opportunities are available for the new YotelPad property.

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end the condominium inventory is up three (3) to 103. There are now only four condominiums in Mammoth listed under $300,000. But there are 26 condos listed between $300,000 and $400,000. There were eight (8) new condo listings in the period and none to pending yet. The past two weeks were very snowy and many potential “lookers” canceled out; they stayed home in So Cal or didn’t want to venture out. Interestingly there are NO units listed at Juniper Springs Lodge and yet there are eight units listed at Grand Sierra Lodge. And there are only two 1-bedroom units listed at The Summit (both in Phase II). This time last year there were a dozen

Single Family Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes is up one (1) at 35 including two new $4 million+ dollar listings. There are only three (3) homes listed under $700,000. Single-family homes are significantly buried at this point making them difficult to show let alone access. But as I point out to potential buyers, now is a great time to look at real estate and understand what the property is like after major snow events. It is something that can’t be assessed on a summer day.

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is down five (5) to 48 at period’s end. Of the 48 properties in “pending,” there are 24 in “Active Under Contract” status (formerly “back-up”). The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) is down four (4) to 68. With lots of snow and kids off of school for Ski Weeks, we’ll have to see how much market activity there will be. These have become good selling periods in the past.

Market Updates and News

An amazing series of potent snowstorms have blown through Mammoth in the past month. There is an incredible amount of snow on the ground and snow removal operators have not been able to keep up. Many residential areas have marginal access and roof shoveling has become a priority for many property managers. There are snow showers in the long range forecast but the weather experts are forecasting a break from the major storms. We’ll see. Once Mammoth is in a particular weather pattern it seems to want to stay in that pattern. The town needs a pause to clean things up and address public safety issues. And to repair miscellaneous broken-down snow removal equipment. Thankfully, most of the snow accumulation of the last two days has been at the higher elevations of the Ski Area.

Temperatures are not forecasted to come above freezing for the next 10 days. The snowpack is a good insulator but those temperatures can bring pipe freezing. Property owners with vacant properties are encouraged to ascertain they are protected with low level heat. One of the best ways to protect from pipe freezing is to have occupants in the property; heat, flowing water, and watchful eyes to detect any slow water flows. 

Regardless of what happens the balance of the winter the snowpack is in place for a variety of great skiing and snowboarding the next few months. The Ski Area has already announced there will be runs open until 4th of July. And while the past month has provided plenty of powder skiing/riding opportunities, the wind and storms have limited lift operations and even caused the Mountain to close entirely, which is rare. The big Wednesday February 6th powder day sported a crowd as large as any winter Saturday. Clearly, plenty of southern California IKON Pass holders called in sick that day.

The Mammoth YotelPad project now has a website. It gives a real good idea of what the hotel facility will look and feel like. The sales team anticipated the start of the reservation  process this next week but some paperwork from the Department of Real Estate contained some errors, so maybe in a couple of weeks. The proponents were in front of the Planning Commission during the period for a workshop. It was opportune timing.

The neighboring properties are concern about snow removal and snow storage. The long time manager at Viewpoint condominiums knows which way the wind blows; “the trash from Nevados ends up on my property.” And there was almost laughable discussion between various Commissioners and members of the public and the architect about the flat roof design. The designer stated that they will likely add additional layers of construction material to the roof. Many were skeptical about the flat roof but the reality is that many roofs that have good exposure to the wind (and solar) rarely need shoveling. I can see a large one right from my desk. The YotelPad site certainly has significant wind and solar exposure.

The Commission’s primary concern appeared to be the aesthetics of the project as it flows from the street up to the entry area. The location is prominent with high traffic counts and will serve as the informal entry into The Village. With a little effort the visual effect can be impressive. But if left to the developer’s budget it will be a simple sidewalk. I remember the initial public meetings for Juniper Springs Lodge. The original plans did not include a porte cochere. It would have looked ridiculous. Today the grand entry statement makesthe building. And anybody arriving in the middle of a snowstorm is glad it is there.

Some of the Commissioners also appeared concerned about sufficient parking. But the proposed project meets the requirements of the North Village Specific Plan and those requirements have sufficed for the four condo hotel projects already built. And concerns over employee parking?? There is a Red Line shuttle stop right in front of the project. I see a perfect opportunity to emphasize what has been part of the Town’s General Plan for 30 years; get people out of cars and onto public transportation. 

The YotelPad marketing has created buzz and interest for the condo hotel properties. I’ve had numerous inquiries asking me to compare the different condo hotel properties. So this week’s issue of The Sheet has a Mammoth Real Estate Q&A with some comparisons. Something for everybody….. 

The Town Council agenda for Wednesday has an interesting closed session item; lease negotiations of The Parcel to the Bluesapalooza promoter….looks like The Woods site location may be dubious for the summer of 2019 and the Town wants to help secure a home for the popular event. The way things evolve and devolve in Mammoth, maybe The Parcel becomes an events site andan affordable housing site.

And the TOT (bed tax) numbers for January 2019 came in at $3 million, a new record just like December 2018. And while the marketing gurus in Mammoth believe they deserve all of the credit for these impressive numbers, I can argue that the Airbnb effect and the dynamic pricing models/algorithms that all rental entities are using today are very affective at maximizing rental pricing in high demand periods. And December and January are high demand periods, especially when the snow is good.

Noteworthy Sales

Two low-end vacant residential lots closed during the period. Strange time of year for that. Both in the Mammoth Slopes neighborhoods (the area between the Village and Canyon Lodge). Both have been on the market for a year+. Both have “incurable defects.” The Forest Trail lot closed for $135,000. I’m sure the new owner thinks they got a bargain. Wait until they discover how much the retaining wall and rear foundation will cost. The corner Horseshoe Drive lot sold for $210,000. It is nice and flat and close to the Village. But there is a large apartment complex right across the street. 

A tear-down house at the top of Davison sold for $574,000. Basically someone paid that for a lot close to Canyon Lodge. We’ll watch and see if they build something smart. The house removal and the existing permit values are probably a push.

Two Village 1-bedroom units sold in the $400,000+ range. They continue to perform.

 Favorite New Listing For The Period

There aren’t too many bank foreclosures coming through the pipeline these days but here is an interesting one. This early 1980’s built home overlooks the Chair 15/Eagle Base parking lot. So this is all about location and ski access. The home is a 3 bedroom + loft / 3.75 bath home with a 2-car garage. The kitchen and baths have been remodeled at some point in the relatively recent past. It is the classic Mammoth floorplan with the living room, dining, kitchen and master bedroom/bath on the second floor. The view from the living room and spa deck is quite spectacular; the Sherwins, Mammoth Pass/Crest and the Dragon’s Back of the Ski Area. But that view could be impacted in the future with any development of the Ski Area’s parking lot, or not. But the access to the lift should always be there. The home is in decent condition overall. This will probably will need a new roof in the near future. It needs other repairs….Now if we can find the water meter buried underneath all the snow.     
Call Paul For The Pricing Insight……

Other Real Estate News

The administration and marketing of bank owned/foreclosed properties has gone sideways in the past 10 years. Some of it can be blamed on technology and the desire to “improve” the process. Some of it is third parties wanting a piece-of-the-action. I can’t see any of it helping the owner/seller get rid of the property at a minimized value. And many of the potential buyers just walk away pissed.

Today many of these properties are being marketed via auctions. Websites like Auction.comand Xome.comcarry these auctions. Potential buyers need to read the fine print. Typically buyers have to put a $1,000 credit card deposit into the system to make a bid. Winning bidders will be charged a premium on top of the their “winning” bid. Most times that is another 5% (be careful!). But what many buyers are now realizing is that many times the seller becomes part of the bidding, and not to the buyer’s benefit. They are skewing the true auction aspect of the process. And overall transparency has been thrown out the window. You’re dealing with some nebulous auctioneer/robot on the other end, or in India.

Even worse is that most of the decorum of a normal real estate transaction is also disregarded. The property is simply dumped on the “winning” buyer. Forget inspections, quality title work, and any real buyer representation. In the past these REO (real estate owned) properties were managed and prepared for the market in a professional manner. Buyers and their representatives were able to view the properties like any other open market listing. Offers and negotiations occurred much like traditional real estate deals except the seller was represented by an asset manager with years of experience and who would react to the realties of the marketplace (assuming those realities were expressed). They were allowed inspections, etc., with the understanding that the property is being sold “AS IS.” There was even an era where we could get the bank to fix some things. Not today. Buyers are on their own.

But it doesn’t mean there won’t be opportunities. Real buyers need to be patient (time can be a great negotiator). The auction process can be frustrating and can create high level of distrust. The critical thing is to have a realistic understanding of the value of the property. And understand that the seller really does want to sell. They need to get it off the books.

And maybe after a couple more years of operating this dysfunctional system they will go back to the “old way” and let the professionals maximize the value of their sales and have happy parties at the end of the transaction.

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