Mammoth Real Estate Sales Report, December 1, 2019

Snow Prayers Answered As Forecasted Snowshowers Turn Into Major Dumps!

Market Summary:   November 17 — December 1

The Mammoth Lakes MLS is reporting 19 real estate closings ranging from a low of $278,000 to a high of $1,100,000. That is the same as the previous period. The local market has been very consistent on closings. Of the 19 escrow closings, all 19 were financeable properties and 13 were conventionally financed. Fourteen of the closings were condos selling at or under $510,000 and all of closings were condos. There was one REO closing. The 10-year Treasury yield moved downward to 1.776%. Mortgage rates have stabilized and many 30-year mortgages are being quoted in the 3.75% range.

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end the condominium inventory is up three (3) to 65. But that is somewhat deceptive. There were four new offerings at “The Villas at Obsidian” and they are all listed at $1,250,000. These ~3,000 square foot townhomes are under construction and appear to be priced competitively. This is a nice location on the 10th fairway of the Sierra Star golf course with views of Mammoth Mountain. How potential buyers will feel about being “tied” to the Obsidian/Tallus fractional property arrangement is yet to be seen. Maybe this project iteration will work for this property owner. Something has to work. Besides these new listings, there were nine (9) new condo listings in the period and none are in escrow yet. It is a somewhat surprising time of year to see this many new condo listings. Included in the new listings are two 3 bedroom / 3 bath condo hotel units in the Village priced well over $1M.

Single Family Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes is up two (2) to 62. There were three (3) new listings in the period. This segment of the market remains on the slower side. Many would-be sellers are asking “what will it take?” More price reductions? A “better” market? Maybe the snow and all the new IKON Pass holders will move it?

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is down 11 to 54 at period’s end. Of the 54 properties in “pending,” there are 20 in “Active Under Contract” status (formerly “back-up”). The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) is down 10 to 82.

Market Updates and News

Mammoth weather turned dramatically this past week. Not only did it get cold (very cold) but two major storm cycles loaded the eastern Sierra with large amounts of snow. The first at Thanksgiving and the second is happening right now. The higher elevations are projected to accumulate seven feet or more out of these storms. The Ski Area is working to get into broader operation. They won’t have to worry about making snow for awhile. The Thanksgiving weekend crowd was funneled into the Main Lodge area. Like they did last year, they opened access chairs off of Canyon Lodge to alleviate the crowd. Canyon Lodge and Eagle are now scheduled to open Dec. 7. We’ll see if they have most of the Canyon Lodge renovation work completed by then.    

In the future, the Canyon Lodge facility should be excellent for these early season storms and skier/snowboarder demand. But they have undertaken major remodel work the past two off-seasons. I’m sure it will pay off for the enterprise. But Mammoth may now see a new, interesting dynamic. All of this new snow and a “significant increase” in this year’s IKON Pass sales from the SoCal market may create a new level of pre-holiday demand that Mammoth has never seen.    

The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas has always been a great time to ski if the conditions are decent. Cold snow, no crowds and a holiday vibe make it special. This year might be different. I hope everybody is ready. As I pointed out in my recent Q&A, marketing is great but the Mammoth ski industry is driven by plentiful snow. The 2020 winter season is now on. As I point out in that column, Mammoth has plenty to be thankful for. And all of this new snow added to it.    

The storms, as they should, bought out the various snow removal operators. I noticed several pieces of brand new equipment (and non-U.S. made brands of equipment). The big winters in the past three years have stressed the local equipment and have helped the operators cash flow. So now it makes sense to see some new equipment. And speaking of snow removal, the Town has been very aggressive about clearing and maintaining all of the new sidewalks. Pedestrian safety in winter has been dicey in the past decades. It is far better today than ever.    

The proposed Ice Rink/MUF has officially been renamed to Community Recreation Center or CRC. Maybe the $10M-a-year marketing department came up with that. The Town Council stands at 3 to 2 to approve the project, even if it takes more financial resources than expected. But the project hasn’t come back to the Commissions or Council for any further review and/or approval. The preliminary design work was completed last May, and it is fairly detailed. The sprung structure is basic — my research shows they are a rather “off-the-shelf” product and the foul weather engineering is a key component of the design. It is basically a massive tent. The architects have been paid over $700,000 to design it. It can’t be that complicated.    

I’m thinking they learned a lesson the last time. Maybe they are floating the project out to contractors to see if it can be built within a reasonable budget before they actually bring it to the community for approvals. The superfluous EIR won’t need to be changed much, nobody read it anyway (I did). The project is still bound to be contentious; it is a massive structure especially compared to the first non-sprung design. It is taller and larger and will encroach closer to the surrounding condominium projects. And no matter how much lipstick they put on it, it is still bound to look cheesy. It would be fun to get in the time machine and see what people think about ten years from now. The hockey players will certainly love it. The families that need summer day care will love it.     

Besides all of the new “wayfinding” signs that were installed before the storms, the new snowflake lights are being installed on lampposts. They should look good with all of the new snow. We’ll see if anybody notices.    

And don’t forget… tax payments are due in the next week. 

Noteworthy Sales

Two 2 bedroom / 2 bath Mammoth Green units closed for exactly $560,000. I mentioned this project in the last newsletter and how values have rebounded. The project was built in the early 2000s and went through construction defect litigation and also established a supplemental assessment. The project has been completely resided and looks sharp. Other issues have been dealt with. The project is unique because it sits right on the Sierra Star golf course (with a beautiful pool area) but also has really convenient access to Eagle Express and Eagle Base.    

Two smaller and earlier phase Snowcreek units closed right in the $400,000 price range. Despite being 40 years old the projects are very well maintained and have desirable floorplans. And they remodel nicely.

Favorite New Listing for the Period

Eagle Run is one of the very few true ski-in and ski-out locations in Mammoth. The project layout is interesting. Units on the north end of the project are directly on the ski run. Units on the very south end are less ski oriented but have unbelievable views. This 3 bedroom / 2 bath unit is located on the very south west corner of the project and has an incredible panoramic view overlooking the Valentine Reserve and up into the Mammoth Pass. There is a large master suite with balcony. Very private but one of the more distant units to the actual ski run. The project is in great shape and features understructure parking and two spas. The project is easily accessed from downtown via Meridian Blvd.. Sold in turn-key condition; ready to use and enjoy, excellent rental potential. Just in time for winter.  

Listed at $999,000. Listing courtesy Resort Property Realty

Other Real Estate News

A recent article at Inman highlighted some of the ways technology is and will impact the short term rental business in the future. According to Transparent Intelligence, a short-term rental (STR) industry data provider, the number of engaged properties grew 33% from 2017 to 2018 to a total of 7.1 million properties. A new competitor in the STR field is “Smart Stays” (not yet in Mammoth). “High tech stays (or Smart Stays) are increasingly becoming an essential element for the short-stay market for managers, owners and guests.” The Smart Stay folks say they have the leading technology. (Others are sure to follow.)  

“Convenience is the new luxury in travel with guests wanting 24-hour self-check-in, excellent wifi and a safe stay in a comfortable environment. For instance, 63 percent of guests want keyless check-in (especially in urban areas) and increasingly, managers are being required to meet the guests’ rising needs and expectations in this area. Simply put, just providing a key, bed, kitchen, few pots and pans and a coffee pot doesn’t cut it anymore.”  

The Smart Stay system is proactive in the pre-screening process including background checks for guests. “Their data suggest that a few bad guests cause most of the issues for property managers and that star ratings from the likes of Airbnb aren’t accurate enough to weed out the worst offenders.” They point out that in many European countries all guests have their passport information submitted through police screenings. There are new companies like Check-In Scan that have automated tools which help owners and managers complete this seamlessly. I see this as a growing trend (maybe you will have to submit your IKON Pass information).    

The classic guest book with useful information is going digital too. The new digital versions on the market can send guests links to everything about their stay including the “house rules.”    There is also new technology that can measure noise and send the registered guests text messages or phone calls to alert them that there is excessive noise in the property. And there are even more advanced devices that can track CO2, temperature and humidity. The CO2 measurement can estimate how many people are in the property. (I reported some months ago about a sensor that can measure how many “devices” (phones, computers, etc.) are in the property with the suggestion of how many occupants there are.)     

Many owners in Mammoth are already tracking internal temperatures via wifi driven thermostats to assure guest are not being wasteful with heating utilities, or have shut off the heat when heat is required. There are even new devices that can detect water leaks. Ultimately, these types of sensors can help give the host confidence and help provide the best guest experience.    

The keyless check-in is still tops on the list. Many in Mammoth are utilizing these systems. Each guest (or housekeeper) can have their own unique entry code, and that code can be valid only for the duration of the stay. These systems can track who is coming and going or how many times (and at what times) the guest opens and closes the door.    

The Smart Stay system is also emphasizing new layers of insurance for owners and guests. Many STR owners in Mammoth are increasingly looking at new levels of insurance for their properties.  

The article suggests that someday STR properties may outnumber actual hotel rooms (the cost and time in developing hotels has become excessive). But one takeaway that I liked is; most guests would rather have an UberEats experience  than room service………  

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Thanks for reading!  

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