Mammoth Real Estate Sales Report, November 3, 2019

Mammoth Spared Wind, Fires and Smoke So Far, Ski Area Opens This Week!

Market Summary:   October 20 — November 3

The Mammoth Lakes MLS is reporting 30 real estate closings ranging from a low of $260,000 to a high of $1,620,000. Of the 30 escrow closings, 26 were financeable properties and 22 were conventionally financed. There were five (5) more vacant residential lots closed including two that were purchased with adjacent properties. One vacant lot along the ski run sold for $1,450,000. Thirteen (13) of the sales were condos under $500,000. The 10-year Treasury yield moved around but ended almost even at 1.728%. Mortgage rates remain very attractive and based on these closings buyers are taking advantage of them.

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end the condominium inventory is down another 14 to 77. There were 8 (eight) new condo listings in the period and one (1) is already in escrow. The numbers show Mammoth is seeing the traditional pre-winter buying in the condo market. It doesn’t happen at this level every year but it is certainly a typical trend in the market. Low interest rates and the enthusiasm following last year’s banner winter help. And the increasing popularity of owning short-term rentals (STR) is driving part of the demand.

Single Family Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes is down two (2) to 62. There was a slight increase in the showing activity in this market segment during the period. And price reductions. If some of these homes aren’t sold in the next 30 days, some will become last-minute seasonal rentals. Others will come off the market for the winter. 

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is down 11 to 61 at period’s end. Of the 71 properties in “pending,” there are 30 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 91.

Market Updates and News

The Mammoth region experienced some single-digit morning temperatures during the period but the weather has been rather perfect for this time of year. While the rest of California has experienced high winds and fires, Mammoth has escaped all of that, thankfully. The low temperatures did allow the snow-making crews on Mammoth Mountain to get a base down on the initial runs and they will continue in earnest until it truly snows. There is no precipitation in the 15-day forecast.   

The Ski Area will open with limited operation on Thursday; the infamous “white ribbon of death” will be open. I’ll pass, but I’m sure there will be a crowd. It is truly amazing how much snow they can actually make. Ski areas in Colorado, Montana and Wyoming already have significant early snow. The IKON Pass holders have options for early skiing.  So far Mammoth won’t be part of it.    The pleasant weather in Mammoth is allowing work crews to finish a multitude of ongoing projects in Mammoth. They were pouring swaths of cement on Main St. this past week. Based on the forecast, they should have most of those improvements completed by Thanksgiving. Main St. is far more pedestrian friendly than it ever has been. Driving around town this past week there are also several new single-family home construction starts. Not the best time of year to be starting, but this weather may allow them to get “out of the ground” before it dumps.   

There were no overall power outages during the period but SCE is doing some major replacements of equipment around town and there have been area-specific outages. But we’ve had these routinely in the past couple of decades. There is increased discussion about owning generators, both for home and business. Roberto’s has test run a massive new generator and is finalizing the installation. Just losing the food in the refrigerators warrants it. But being open for business when everybody else is closed is a real opportunity. The groundwork at the Burgers addition is being completed and they are also adding a massive generator. More businesses will follow, especially if SCE continues to pull the plug on the community. Meanwhile, the company that has been here the last few summers clearing and trimming trees around the power lines appears to have an even bigger presence right now. Their crews and trucks have been seen working all over town.  

The Town continues to install more and more of the “wayfinder” directional signs all over town. They range from big and small and during the period more smaller ones were being installed on existing lampposts. They are great for pedestrians but not for vehicles (too small)…. Now if they can get some good directional signs for VONS. Having owned a business on Old Mammoth Road for close to 30 years I can tell you that 75% of the “lost” traffic is looking for VONS. If you don’t know where it is, it is actually hard to recognize where it is.  

The Town Council held planning sessions this last week. While workforce housing still appears to be a priority, the new Ice Rink/multi use facility still appears to be a priority also, no matter the price. I guess we’ll find out when the final plans and bids are formalized. While most of the community supports the concept, the proposed  sprung “tent” type structure doesn’t seem to have broad support. Council member Stapp wants to further tax lift tickets to pay for the Town’s wish list, or the needs list by his estimation.  

The recent sale of the Berner St. property in the Village; the partners hope to build a 101 room hotel in the near future. And nothing new from the YotelPad group. But when it snows and the holiday crowd moves into town, there will be activity.  

This is a very quiet time of year in Mammoth. It is very enjoyable if the weather is nice. The next two weeks look spectacular. Just don’t expect all of your favorite restaurants to be open. It is that time of year.

Noteworthy Sales

 The aforementioned single-family lot sales show a move up in values. Maybe. A Bluffs “rim” lot closed for $340,000. These are the premium view lots. A Mammoth Knolls lot closed for $260,000. But it was sold with the home next door. Two Starwood lots (side-by-side) sold for $400,000 each. They back to condos.   

Two more Mountainside condos (across from Canyon Lodge) closed. These 3 bedroom / 3 bath 2-car garage townhomes are selling at ~$600 per square foot.  

An “A” frame triplex in the Sierra Valley Sites closed for almost $750,000. Income properties continue to perform well no matter the age. Another multi-unit building that recently came to the market is already in escrow.  

Three Village units closed escrow. Two closed in Sherwin Villas.

Favorite New Listing for the Period

This just came to the market yesterday and the timing is good. This is a true winter/ski/snowboard oriented property. Just a very short walk to Canyon Lodge. This is an efficient 3 bedrooms and 3 baths. And the project has some of the nicest understructure parking in all of Mammoth. This upgraded unit is in “turn-key” condition and has great sun and views. Forced air gas heating, gas fireplace and washer/dryer in the unit. Recent assessment has been paid by the seller. This is a top floor unit and the building has an elevator. Remodeled pool and spa area. Excellent rental potential especially in winter. Just in time for winter!

Listed at $689,000. Listing courtesy of Coldwell Banker Mammoth.

Other Real Estate News

Potential buyers and sellers still have some confusion about the newest Town ordinance pertaining to fireplace retrofitting. There are multiple aspects to all of this. And I am currently involved with the sale and transition of the legacy (40 years) fireplace contracting business to the former manager of the largest fireplace contracting business, so I have some interesting perspective.  

The latest Town ordinance states that the old fireplace inserts must be retrofitted by new owners or by October of 2022. This does not apply to freestanding wood stoves. The real issue is with the old, open fireplaces that were retrofitted starting in the late 1980s. And those after the 1990 Town and EPA ordinance requiring EPA certified wood burning appliances. The old fireplaces (mostly in condos) were not originally constructed to withstand the heat of the new insert appliances. Over the years this resulted in slow burning behind the steel inserts and in some cases led to structure fires.    

Today, to make these older fireplaces comply to the ordinance, the whole fireplace needs to be torn down and internally rebuilt to withstand the heat. It is expensive. The older EPA certified inserts can be reinstalled, but many of them are looking very dated and are relatively inefficient. Many facing these retrofits also install a newer, more modern and attractive appliance. One way around the whole fireplace reconstruction is to install a pellet burning insert. Pellet appliances don’t create the internal heat like a wood burning appliances. With pellet, the heat is pushed into the home.  

The retrofitting options vary greatly. A major fireplace area remodel can spark a series of remodeling. The flat panel TV often gets incorporated on the fireplace with new mantles and new rock work. Some opt to remove the entire fireplace and install a freestanding appliance for a cleaner, less cumbersome look. Some are even considering electric fireplaces that produce heat and ambiance, and for a lot less money (at least originally).  

The pellet burning appliances are increasingly popular. They have become very efficient and effective and are being controlled by wireless thermostats. They require less and less maintenance (I owned my first pellet stove in 1992 and have owned a total of six). Many permanent residents love their pellet appliances. They can come home to a warm home with real cost efficiency and low hassle. And pellet appliances are making their way into more and more STR properties. Both the guests and management companies are becoming more comfortable and familiar with them.  

One thing is clear, the hundreds (maybe thousands) of retrofits won’t be completed by October of 2022. There isn’t the manpower in Mammoth to complete all of the work on that schedule. But every day there are new options for retrofitting. Many condo projects are bringing propane into the buildings, so that is an option for some. The newer generation wood burning appliances (in 2020) will burn cleaner than the previous generation.   

​​​​​​​And ironically, after a few power outages, many people come to appreciate their old wood burning stove or fireplace. You can even cook dinner on it.

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