Mammoth Real Estate Sales Report, July 5, 2020

Large Weekend And Holiday Crowds Occupy Mammoth!!

Market Summary:   June 21 — July 5

The Mammoth Lakes MLS is reporting six (6) real estate closings for the period ranging from a low of $340,000 to a high of $790,000. All six (6) closings were financeable properties and three (3) were financed and three (3) were cash purchases. Half the purchases were single-family homes and half were Snowcreek/Meadow location properties. The 10-year Treasury yield stayed almost even but settled downward at the end to .669%. The mortgage industry still reports brisk business for both refinances and purchases. There are increased predictions that conventional 30-year rates will go below 3% in the coming year, but for now rates are fantastic enough.

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end the condominium inventory is up another 10 to 119. It is rather common to see a small surge of new listings prior to the 4th of July holiday. Sellers anticipate crowds in town and a natural increase in property lookers. Many of the new listings are properties we have seen before, they were on the market pre-virus. There were 30 new condo listings brought to the market during the period and three (3) have already gone to escrow. Snowcreek remains very popular. And the under-construction “540 Project” project on Old Mammoth Road has reservations on almost all units. The condo inventory now includes one (1) Obsidian Villas unit that is under construction and may be completed this summer. The inventory also includes five (5) under-construction Creekhouse  (Snowcreek Phase 7) units.

Single Family Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes is up four (4) to 43. This includes seven (7) new listings and some decent new offerings in the ~$1M range. The recently listed Graybear home listed at $1,765,000 went to contract almost immediately. The least expensive home on the market is $574,000 for a small log cabin in Old Mammoth

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is up 23 to 75 at period’s end. The Mammoth real estate market is very active. The properties in pending still includes 13 Obsidian Villas units. Of the 52 properties in “pending,” there are 32 in “Active Under Contract” status (formerly “back-up”). The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) is up 24 to 107. This number could be higher but inventory in the Bishop and Big Pine market is almost non-existent.

Market Updates and News

If you weren’t in Mammoth (everyone else was) for the 4th of July weekend, it was a large but subdued crowd. There was plenty of outdoor dining and beer drinking going on. There were local block parties. But most headed into the mountains or forest. And while the increasingly controversial mask wearing remains a personal decision, most people were not “masking-up” while participating in the great outdoors. And that included just walking down the street. It sure didn’t seem like the 4th of July without a parade. There was an impromptu parade that started on the normal parade route around 11:00 that built a crowd as it headed towards Main St., but it wasn’t the same. Otherwise it seemed like just another very busy summer weekend. Most of the guests appeared to be done with lockdown and social distancing.   

Mammoth’s virus testing during the period mirrored most of the country’s; lots and lots of tests and more positives. The local residents are hoping it all goes well. Some are placing bets. Mountain resort communities all over the country are reporting massive crowds. And the “drive-to” aspect of Mammoth should have the crowds here all summer and into fall. Hopefully the local businesses can stay open and capitalize on it. I had to drive to south County twice in the past week on business and Hwy. 395 was as busy as I have ever seen it in the summer. I stopped at the airport on one trip and had a substantial wait to enter the southbound traffic again. Plenty of people are moving both north and south through the eastern Sierra.  

The drivers of the new air service in Bishop finally concluded that it won’t be happening this fall. They are now targeting the fall of 2021. Reality is the demand probably won’t be there anyway. But they are forging ahead and planning on spending loads of FAA dollars on terminal design work and purchase, runway and taxiway resurfacing and rehabilitation, emergency response vehicles, and other compliance mandates. And so far there is no sign of litigation, yet.   

The Town captured a $20 million affordable housing grant for development of The Parcel. This will certainly help. The Town applied for the grant with Pacific West Communities, a housing developer from Idaho. The monies can be applied to planning and design, infrastructure like utilities and roads and even construction of units. This will definitely jump start the project and should help attract other capital and developers. This is positive economic stimulus for the community on numerous fronts.  

Seeing the success of outdoor dining makes me think this is something the Town will be forced to consider as a permanent feature. Back when there was the (delusional) discussion of the Main St. and Old Mammoth Road revitalization, the planning staff was suggesting that property owners should tear down existing buildings and replace them with new buildings that included understructure parking. It was asinine to say the least. I was arguing that we should relax our restaurant parking-to-seat ratios and let the restaurants and bars spill out into the parking lots and sidewalks. It happens successfully all over the world, even in colder climates. It creates “place”. Outdoor seating that spills into the plaza is a key feature of the Village planning. So here we are. The local restaurant industry survivors will have the chance to lobby for it sometime in the future. And the local retailers are going to get to argue for more outdoor sales too. Parking is rarely a problem in Mammoth. And if it was, more people would utilize our excellent public transportation.   

Campaign-style signs appeared around town in the last few days promoting “build the ice rink”. In this era of impassioned protests and accusations of injustice, could it be that the local hockey players are exerting that their lives matter too?  

And for a look into Mammoth’s future prospects including the local real estate market, check out my Real Estate Q&A that appears in this weekend’s issue of The Sheet. I consider it a valuable read for the week.

Noteworthy Sales

The sale of 93 Sugar Pine Drive at $790,000 is a classic example of price sensitivity in the Mammoth market. This was a unique custom home built for some well known local residents of the past. It has ideal southern exposure for the driveway, entry and main living area. And Sugar Pine is a great private street in the Majestic Pines neighborhood. But the home was showing its age and datedness. The home had been on the market last year for a substantially higher price, and it sat. It was recently re-listed at $799,000 and immediately had offers. The new owners have already cleaned it out and will likely do a nice remodel. The structure and location deserve it. 

Favorite New Listing for the Period

 All of Snowcreek is hot property right now. Buyers are looking for lower densities and open space (can you blame them?). Snowcreek #922 is a 2 bedroom / 2 bath, 1-car garage townhome in the early phase of the Fairway Homes (Phase 5). It is in clean but original condition. While it is in move-in condition, it is perfect for some new paint and flooring and perhaps some new appliances in the kitchen. It has two upper decks and one lower deck. Views up to Mammoth Mountain and the Mammoth Pass. Forced air gas heating, gas fireplace in living room, gas cooktop, and gas water heater. It will be on the market this week as soon as the carpets are cleaned.  

Listed at $659,000

Other Real Estate News

 One of the more laughable yet often painful aspects of the Mammoth real estate business involves the personal property that is part of almost every real estate transaction here (shhh….don’t tell the lenders). We sometimes jokingly refer to ourselves as “furniture brokers”. And the topic has been rearing its ugly head again as of late. Maybe it is the stress of the virus and lockdowns. People can fret over minutia.   

Most second homes in this market are sold with furniture. It makes sense. Often the property was purchased with furniture. And sellers don’t have room for the furniture somewhere else. Or they simply don’t want it. And quite frankly most people don’t want to move it. I often refer to the existing furniture as “transitional furniture” because you have to sit somewhere even if you plan to replace it. Sometimes properties are sold fully furnished and outfitted down to the pots and pans and silverware in the kitchen. We often refer to this as a “turn-key” property. Buyers who plan to do STR love to purchase properties in this condition.   

Other times there are “exclusions” or in the MLS it is listed as “partially” furnished. When we list or make offers on properties the industry includes language like “sold furnished subject to an inventory approved by the Seller and Buyer.” But this doesn’t always work out.  

Amazingly, the personal property and furnishings can become the most contentious and difficult parts of the transaction. Many times it drives the agents and brokers crazy. Sellers are notorious for taking items that they “meant” to exclude from the inventory. And often these are the items the buyer “cherished” in the property. And all of a sudden items can have strong sentimental value, or it was handed down from grandma. Some sellers justify taking extra items because “they had to lower their price.” It really is incredible how often this happens. Some buyers become almost paranoid about the inventory and items the seller leaves behind. And even more oddly, much of it inevitably ends up at one of the thrift stores or in the dumpster.   

In the meantime the agents and brokers have to mediate or re-negotiate over items that have little value or are easily replaced. Or will be replaced anyway. And sometimes the whole thing becomes something like a Dr. Phil episode.  

All of this happens while we’re trying to stay focused on the real estate aspects of the transaction…..  

Thanks for reading!  Stay healthy!

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