Mammoth Real Estate Sales Report – January 31, 2021

A 60% STR opening and an impressive two-day snowstorm bring a large weekend crowd!

Market Summary – January 17 to 31

The Mammoth Lakes MLS is reporting only 10 real estate closings for the period ranging from a low of $350,000 to a high of $3,825,000. Of the 10 closings, nine were financeable properties and six were financed closings. There were four residential sales over $1M. The 10-year Treasury yield ended the period almost even 1.093%. Mortgage rates are up slightly but still near all-time lows.

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end the condominium inventory is down four to 21 and still includes six Westin Monache listings, but they changed slightly with one longstanding two-bedroom listing cancelled and a fifth floor studio added. I had an inquiry from a potential buyer about the Westin policy for different bedding arrangements in the two-bedroom units (to accommodate more kids). Westin owner relations stated they have a “no bunk bed policy.” This makes me wonder if this policy somehow limits both the rental pool and buyer pool for these units. These are nice floorplans with full kitchens and are conducive for family stays. But the bedding arrangements aren’t. The Westin also stated that the “refresh” renovation work is now scheduled to commence in April. There were 28 new condo listings brought to the market during the period and 14 have already gone to escrow. The low inventory continues to frustrate buyers.

Single-Family Home Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes is down two to 16. There were five new listings brought to the market in the period. A smaller home in the Graybear subdivision came to the market at $1,599,000 and there were multiple offers and purportedly the transaction price is well over $1.7M. There are now four homes listed slightly under $1M but then the pricing jumps to $1,690,000. The interest and action in the multi-million price range remains impressive. For those watching the price-per-square-foot, most sales are now beyond the $500 psf and heading beyond. The Graybear sale may go beyond $800 psf. Quality new listings are being listed in the $700 psf range.

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is up 35 to 112 at period’s end. Amazing volume considering buyers didn’t have access to nightly rentals during most of the period. This number includes eight vacant residential lots. The commercial lot where the old La Sierra building was recently came to the market and sold immediately. This is interesting. Despite everything, it appears capital wants to flow into Mammoth Lakes on many levels. The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) is up 40 to 145.

Market Updates and News

What a difference a few days can make! Last Tuesday the Mammoth lodging industry was allowed to open to 60% capacity with other restrictions. On Tuesday afternoon I watched a steady stream of visitors arriving and checking in. Very early Wednesday morning it began to snow hard and the storm lasted for a little over 48 hours. In my 40 winters in Mammoth I can’t recall so much snow coming down in such a short period. There was 9-10 feet in the higher elevations and 5-7 feet in the variety of elevations of town. The winds were light through most of the storm so the snow basically fell straight down. Essentially, Mammoth received half of the snow of the 1991 “Miracle March” in 48 hours. And in classic Mammoth fashion, a bluebird weekend followed.

The volume of snow created a mess on the roads and highways and the avalanche danger remains high. And long lift lines. There is another smaller snowstorm expected in the next few days. We can only hope it continues. With the new snow and STRs available, Mammoth has the chance at some level of recovery from the lockdown burden of the last two months. Hopefully the visitors will be hungry for to-go food from the local eateries. It sure looked like it Saturday night. Hopefully the community can stay well and keep Mammoth Hospital in green status. The demand to ski, snowboard and recreate is obviously very high. And the new snow conditions and STR openings are bound to create more demand in the local real estate market.

Next week’s Town Council agenda has two very promising items for Mammoth’s future. It looks like the Council will move to finalize the (high) density for The Parcel affordable housing project in the center of town. The total number of proposed units on the 24-acre site is now around 500. This is a lot more than what the neighbors think is appropriate but certainly what the town ultimately needs out of the site. The Council also plans to award the sale of real property and construction of affordable housing units to the recent highest bidder. This first phase is for a total of 81 units.

But according to the agenda package there was a second bidder for this first phase and they are contending they too should be allowed to build a phase or two. Or at least be able to negotiate a deal to develop a similar phase. They argue that “implementing this strategy would accelerate the development of The Parcel delivering desperately needed affordable workforce housing while also generating income and positive land value for the Town.” I would think the Council has to consider this, after all getting these units developed is their expressed number one priority. If not, there should be an uproar from the business community. We are very fortunate in the current economic environment to have two developers wanting to proceed.

The other very positive agenda item is coming from the Aspen Ski Company hospitality arm known as Little Nell Hotel Group. We know they purchased the 7-acre parcel next door to the Westin Monache many months back (this is the same parcel the Ritz-Carlton was proposed for back around 2007). The rumor has been that they want to develop a Limelight Hotel on the site. They have Limelight hotels in Aspen, Snowmass and Sun Valley. They are coming to the Council under Policy Matters for feedback on a potential development agreement and operating agreement.

They want to develop a 151-room hotel and 23 residences. The proposed hotel is a “true” hotel meaning not a condo hotel. It would remain under the Little Nell ownership and operations management. The additional 23 residences would be available for private ownership and available for nightly rental. They are also proposing that “under the right circumstances” they could add two public benefit amenities; digging an extra level of parking on the site that would be available for public parking, and building the pedestrian bridge from the Limelight/Westin/Town parking location across Canyon Blvd. to the Village gondola base. This would eliminate the need for the dreaded Westin Stairs. This pedestrian bridge was in the original plan linking the two sides of Canyon Blvd. (I know well, I was on the Planning Commission in 1991 and 1994 for both North Village Specific Plans).

According to the Little Nell Group they want to begin the entitlement process now so they “can be ready to build as soon as it makes economic sense to do so.” Their target is to begin grading and excavating the site this summer (that should make people at the Westin pool happy). But the policy matter and development agreement discussion they want to have is about a “revenue sharing” agreement with the Town. Basically the proponents want the Town to “share” TOT revenue in the short-to-mid term in order to pay for a portion of the project or debt service (or maybe they could simply charge a higher TOT percentage at the Limelight?).

This type of agreement could certainly make sense but the Town will be negotiating against some real pros. A Limelight hotel could easily supplant the Westin Monache as the premier lodging facility in the community. And as I point out to prospective buyers at the Westin (especially when discussing the upcoming “refresh”), Alterra needs a five-star facility for their “worldly” Ikon Pass holders who visit Mammoth for the first or subsequent time. Staying in the Village or something of lesser quality isn’t going to cut it. This is one of Alterra’s challenges in Mammoth (they also need to complete the gondola system).

So assuming the Council will be interested in such a proposal, let’s hope the negotiation goes well. We can’t forget a similar public/private partnership that went awry down at the Airport that is still costing us a couple million dollars per year. That should be avoidable. We can only hope Aspen wants to be a good partner. If a Limelight is build it will be a great addition to the Village. It will no doubt impact the Westin Monache, and hopefully for the better. I’m sure this won’t be the end of this discussion.

Noteworthy Sales

A 1-bedroom at the Westin closed for $350,000. A 1-bedroom at Sunstone with a big view closed for $445,000 (Sunstone is worth substantially more than the Westin?) A 2-bedroom/2-bath at Aspen Creek closed for $395,000 (prices don’t appear to be going up there).

The sale of 38 Sunny Slopes Lane for $1,600,000. This is an outrageous custom luxury log home in the Old Mammoth district. Incredible craftsmanship but a “not for everybody” property. This has been on-and-off the market for the past few years. It is not surprising it sold in this market.

Favorite New Listing for the Period!

Okay, I’m going to throw this out there. This is a 5,000+ square foot home with six bedrooms and six baths plus a bunch of extra rooms. Listed at $731 per square foot, which is now what this type of quality is selling for in Mammoth Lakes. The home was completed in 2007 by a prominent SoCal general contractor who built it for his own family and friends. This location is right across the street from The Village. The home was designed with lots of private lock-offs. This could be fantastic for corporate ownership or multiple families or a work-remotely base. This is not zoned for STR but it could generate tremendous income for 31+ day rentals (MTR, which are now in high demand). Incredible location right across the street from the “fun zone” and easy access to the Village gondola.

Listed at $3,750,000

Listing courtesy of Mammoth Village Properties

Other Real Estate News

Up until the last few months I had been consistently writing that most of the Mammoth real estate market was still stuck at 80% of the values of the last peak in the spring of 2006 (hard to believe that is now 15 years ago.) But this is changing quickly and I’ve been looking at lots of comparable sales data. The data and consistency is all over the board. Most of it is quite interesting. It shows that there are many different segments to the Mammoth real estate market.

The condo values are a good place to start. Some of the most radical price differences are at the Westin Monache. The project was pre-sold at the height of the market in 2005-06 and most of the units actually closed escrow in 2007. Most of the Studio closings were in the $460-480,000 range. Today the same units are selling $300-320,000. That’s in the ~65% range. The two-bedroom units closed at $1M to $1.1M. The sales in 2020 ranged from $575,000 to $645,000. That is a smaller percentage than the Studio units.

The Lodges was another newly built project that had closings in 2006-07. The cute little two-bedroom units (a floorplan I have come to like very much over the years) sold right around $1M. The last sales have been right around $700-725,000 with a very nice one currently in escrow close to $800,000. The largest units in the Lodges were closing from $1.6M to $1..9M in 2006-07. The two most recent sales in 2020 were $1.365M and $1.585M. The balance of the larger units at the Lodges are an odd mix compared to the peak. But none at full value.

Other newer, random scattered units have odd comparisons. Mammoth Green units are selling today almost identically as they did at the 2006 peak. Eagle Run is selling at ~65-70% of the peak. Village condo hotel units are 90-95% of their peaks. There are four Sunstone 1-bedroom units that sold in 2006-07 that sold for less than the most recent sale (see above). The Woodwinds units were sold at the very peak and today some are selling for less than 60% of their original prices.

Older properties are quite interesting too. The latest Snowcreek V (Fairway Homes) townhome sales are almost equal to 2006-07. The earlier phase of Snowcreek as a whole are currently selling slightly below the peak. Snowcreek has been hot property the past eight months. The townhomes on Chateau Road including Chateau Blanc to Woodlands are actually selling at or higher than the 2006-07 peak. The same with older properties at projects like Mammoth West, Mammoth Estates, La Vista Blanc, Mammoth Creek, etc… Some projects like Bigwood and Tamarack (both have garages) are actually selling for more than their past peak values.

The recent strength of the single-family home market has pushed many values above the 2006-07 peak. A recent comparable sale I was using was 42 Aspen Lane, a pretty ho-hum older home. It closed last month for $1,190,000. It sold in 2007 for $1M even. Looking at the sales in 2006-07, the lower end of the single-family home market has definitely pushed beyond the past peak. Simple scarcity. And again, this has accelerated in the past eight months.

One luxury home sale from 2006 sold for $627 per square foot. We are heading there and beyond right now. Recent closings in The Bluffs, The Ranch, Starwood and Greyhawk are all proving this out. And the sales volume is significantly higher.

The new snow is bound to create even more excitement in the market. 2021 could get crazier than 2020. I plan to continue reporting on these comparisons.

Thanks for reading! Please stay healthy.

If you know anyone interested in buying or selling real estate in the Mammoth region, please send them my way.

** Closed sales data is compiled from in-house files and public records.

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