Mammoth Real Estate Sales Report – August 14, 2022

Bluesapalooza Rain Ushers In A Perfect Week of Summer Weather!

Market Summary – July 31 to August 14

The Mammoth Lakes MLS is reporting 16 real estate closings for the period ranging from a low of $360,000 to a high of $5,169,000. Of the 16 closings, 15 were financeable properties and nine (9) were closed with financing. The closings included four (4) condos under $500,000, two (2) $1.6M+ townhomes and a large multi-unit apartment complex (the high sale).
The 10-year Treasury yield closed the period up to 2.849% and mortgage rates rose in tandem. The industry expects rates to remain in a “sideways and volatile” range. I guess this means they will bounce around a little but should remain close to where they currently are. Quite frankly, I’m not hearing any potential buyers saying they won’t buy because rates are too high.

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end the condominium inventory is down (2) to 75. There were 15 new condo listings in the period and one (1) has already gone to escrow. There are two (2) new listings in The Lodges, both priced at $1,599,000. There were five (5) price reductions in the period. Two (2) of the current listings are deed restricted units for workforce housing purchasers. Overall there is currently the best variety of condo listings that the market has seen in many months. Historically the Mammoth condo inventory usually peaks around Labor Day with the fall being the most active selling period. Could this be a sign of more normalization?


Single-Family Home Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes is down three (3) to 27. There were five (5) new listings brought to the market in the period and two (2) have already gone to contract. The average days on market (DOM) is 96.


Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is up six (6) to 53 at period’s end.  The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) is up five (5) to 87. There were definite signs of life in the market this past week. Listings were being shown and offers being made. The frustration was listed properties also being booked with guests (peak summer tourism). These are missed opportunities for buyers and sellers…… For years I said that real estate sales were a by-product of “people being in town”. That seemed normal for a tourist town. But the Internet age changed much of that. The last two weeks were reminiscent of that bygone era.


Market Updates and News

Mammoth (and most of the eastern high Sierra) experienced 24 hours of wonderful, steady rain the Friday of Bluesapalooza week. There were other small rain events in the period  but all the new moisture “freshened” the entire region and the weather this past week was near perfect. The Blues crowd transitioned to the Margaritafest crowd and summer tourism was in full force. On Thursday the town loaded-up with guests and it was like they just had to be here for the opening of Margaritafest. The anticipation was palpable. The next two weekends feature more popular events in the Village; Wine Walk and Mammoth Rocks.
Mammoth Lakes Tourism (MLT) announced that TOT (bed tax) collections were at $26M+ so far this year. This is indicating a significant increase over any previous years and almost unbelievable. I’ve been looking at 2022 STR revenues from a variety of condos around town including Westin units. The numbers are good but most are falling short of 2019 (which produced slightly over $20M in TOT). Last winter started out strong with early snowpack but fizzled out. Summer tourism has been strong not certainly not overwhelming. If the numbers are correct, then Mammoth has indeed moved to a quality-not-quantity STR mode. We’ll see if the numbers hold up. If true, this is a positive and meaningful trend for the community. And for STR owners too.
The Town Council’s agenda package had some interesting data buried in it. Mammoth isn’t known for crime but the five-year trend is actually down. Local crime rates for the last five years are lower than before 2012, including an even larger decrease in property related crimes. The entire 10-year chart is a downward trend. Maybe having an ex-SWAT commander as the police chief has paid off…… Another set of interesting statistics is the participation in public transportation. The 5-year trend shows a decrease in ridership of 15% annually. Some of this could be blamed on Covid but it is surprising. Many (myself included) have noted that since the inception of the IKON Pass it is increasingly difficult to get onto the Ski Area. Utilizing public transportation to get to the slopes should make greater sense for many in this new era. I have a transit stop less than 100 feet from my desk. The trolleys have been busy the last two months.
Mammoth Lakes Housing announced they have purchased the historic Innsbruck Lodge on Forest Trail just below the Village. This will create 16 new apartments for workforce housing. Occupancy is expected before May of 2023. This acquisition and the recent purchase of the Sierra Lodge at Main and Sierra Blvd. by Mammoth Mountain for employee housing is an interesting trend; Mammoth is decreasing the number of “hot beds” for guests and increasing the number of workforce housing units. I would think this makes condo STRs even more viable.
Several of my clients have commented that they have friends and acquaintances who are (or have been) vacationing in Europe — taking advantage of things opening back up. But I have heard more European languages spoken right here in Mammoth in the past two months than I’ve heard in a long time. They are obviously traveling here in large numbers. Mammoth used to be a popular overnight stay for European travelers working their way on the Bay Area, Yosemite, Death Valley, Las Vegas route.
The New York Post has written articles about the many dangers of electric bikes. There were 20 e-bike fatalities in 2020. One Queens real estate broker was killed by an e-bike delivery man. The biggest problem is they are quiet, and fast, and people are riding them recklessly (I see it every day). Now the most recent problem in New York is the proliferation of bootleg and modified batteries that are causing fires while being charged in people’s apartments. There have already been fatal fires. We don’t need that here in Mammoth. This summer the lighter crowds have alleviated some of the problems, but it is often chaotic. But e-bikes are also becoming a new source of entertainment. People who haven’t ridden bikes in a long time are out riding (and having obvious difficulties). And many local e-bike rentals have extended seats for kids in the rear. It is now quite common to see terrified youngsters behind their parents on these bikes. I would be too.
The regular Advanced Air flights from LA/Hawthorne and Carlsbad/San Diego to Mammoth Airport are reported to be a success this summer and they are working on 6-packs and 10-packs of tickets for frequent flyers with a ~$145 price target. 

Noteworthy Sales 

Three Studio condos closed in a tight range from $360,000 to $375,000. This is the entry level of the condo market. These units can make excellent STR properties.
A Bluffs lot with no special attributes closed for $500,000. The affordable residential vacant land market has been cleaned out.


Favorite New Listing for the Period

This isn’t a brand new listing but it might as well be. This property has been booked so much that it hasn’t been available for agents to show. This is Aspen Creek Condos at the south side of Eagle Base, so excellent access to the slopes. This is a top floor 1 bedroom / 1.25 bath condo with vaulted ceilings. This is a popular STR property and is sold in “turn-key” condition. Super clean and comfortable. Upgrades include recently remodeled kitchen, vinyl plank flooring and modern pellet burning furnace in the fireplace. Fantastic utility at this price. Easy access to elevator and under structure parking. Sellers are being relocated out-of-state. Check out the video tour.   

Listed at $499,000


Other Real Estate News 

Most Mono County property owners should have received some sort of notice from the County Assessorduring the period. The Assessor’s office closes “the roll” (tax roll) on June 30 of each year. It is major deadline for them to meet, and busy real estate years like 2021 make the task even more daunting. There were lots of new property transfers to review and assess and new thresholds to consider.

And even though none of us like our taxes going up, it is a great challenge for the Office to do it accurately and fairly. And if not, that is what the appeals process is for.

The aggregate assessed value of all property in Mono County hit a new all-time high at $7.7 billion. Not surprising. This included many properties that “jumped” significantly in assessed value because they had been previously lowered under the “Prop.8” regulations. Many of these properties were purchased in the 2005-07 timeframe and in recent years had lower assessed values than their original sales prices and original assessed values. With the recent and rapid price appreciation these property assessments can be aggressively pushed upward on a factor of 2% per year beyond their original assessed values. These large jumps in assessed values have some owners questioning the increases in value. I know, I’ve taken their calls.

The Unsecured Property tax (or more commonly referred to as personal property tax) bills were also received during the period. These can include the improvements to leased and owned properties that generate revenue, including STR condos producing revenue and bed tax. I received a handful of these tax bills and for some reason they are far more annoying than real property tax bills. But it is the Assessor’s obligation to the State Board of Equalization to account for these taxes.   

And if the tax payer doesn’t agree with these assessed values they can always appeal. I find the appeals process is not commonly known to many property owners in California. In large counties like Los Angeles it may seem futile, impersonal and cumbersome. Or worse. In Mono County it is rather straightforward — the Assessor’s office is small and reasonably available (and hopefully responsive). But be sure to listen to all of the reasoning for the new assessed value. Sometimes it is more than just comparable sales data. There are all sorts of rules. The entire California property tax law consumes about eight inches (thick) of legal books.

But here’s the big tip-off; if you think you have a legitimate appeal, call the Assessor’s office and discuss it. Be prepared with facts and data (always). Call the Realtor® who helped you purchase the property for applicable sales data. The Office seriously tries to avoid formal appeals because they can become expensive to the County and consume valuable staff time. If it is a small appeal amount the County can easily go financially negative. They have to be sensible.

If there is no satisfaction with an initial discussion then go ahead and file an appeal. It is inexpensive and is now formalized. Now they have to deal with it. Very few appeals ever make it to a hearing. Usually there is some agreement struck (also known as a stipulation) that ultimately has to be approved by the Appeals Board.

If an appealing taxpayer is confused about who has the burden of proof, ask the Office. In almost all cases where the property is not owner-occupied, it is the burden of the taxpayer. But every appealing taxpayer should consider the burden to be theirs regardless.

And forget trying to buffalo the Office (it happens), they know the properties and they know the sales. They sit right next door to the County Recorder’s office, and they have a comprehensive feed from the Mammoth MLS.

The good news is that the County is spending some of their new tax receipts. This summer there has been all sorts of new and quality road paving in the south county. The streets in the community of Crowley Lake and others have never looked so good.

Thanks for reading! Please stay healthy.
** Closed sale data is compiled from in-house files and public records.

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