Mammoth Real Estate Sales Report – December 11, 2022

Continued Snowstorms Set Mammoth For Maximum Tourism!

Market Summary – November 27  to  December 11

The Mammoth Lakes MLS is reporting 15 real estate closings for the period ranging from a low of $270,000 to a high of $2,949,000. Of the 15 closings, 14 were financeable properties and 10 were closed with financing. The high sale was a cash purchase (interestingly, the DOM was 442 days). The closings included two (2) small homes <$900K. 
The 10-year Treasury yield was down again during the period to 3.57%. The 1-year and 6-month yield came down slightly to 4.72%. During the period I had a second home purchaser pre-approved for a conventional loan (20% down) at 6.25% from one of the major banks. Pretty decent if it is real. The mortgage experts continue to predict higher, and lower rates in 2023. The winner of Zillow’s prediction game three of the last four years is predicting rates will be around 5% next summer. Meanwhile and quite telling, I have never received so many email solicitations from mortgage brokers I’ve never heard of. 

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end the condominium inventory is down another three (3) to 41. This now includes 10 Westin units incuding six (6) Studio units. They will start competing on price. The last lower-floor Studio closing  was $395,000. The rest may be heading there. A large special assessment (for insurance) appears to be motivating the new listings. There were seven (7) new condo listings in the period and three (3) have already gone to escrow. The $700-800K price point remains hot. This is the sweet spot for purchasing with a Fannie Mae conforming loan.


Single-Family Home Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes is even at eight (8). There was one new small A-frame listing at $779,000 and I’m betting it sells quickly. This is purchaseable with reasonable financing, but these historic and nostalgic properties have become very popular once again.


Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is down 10 to 35 at period’s end.  The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) is down 11 to 53. Despite these number being down, property showings and buyer interest ticked-up during the period. Mammoth is entering the maximum toruism period. One of the almost laughable things that happens in the real estate business this time of year; “we’re here, we want to see real estate”…Sorry, everything is booked, occupied or buried. 


Market Updates and News

The last two weekend storms have now put Mammoth into excellent condition for the upcoming 45 days of solid tourism. A potent blizzard just rolled through town. Looking at a variety of booking calendars the period is solidly booked. The weather looks snowy through the end of the year. The temperatures this last week barely came over freezing for the entire period. But lower temperatures into the single digits and below were avoided, but they are now in the immediate forecast. And it isn’t even winter yet (where did global warming go?). The Ski Area is now in full operation. Hopefully we don’t have a repeat of last year where it snowed well through the holidays and then stopped abruptly. The Sierra needs a good 400+ inch winter.

The Limelight contractors appear to have put it all on hold for now. Can’t blame them. The Sierra Nevada Inn contractors are hustling to get The Rafters restaurant opened. The new cabanas won’t be finished but the rest of the facility is ready to be fully operational. Clearly there will be more construction next summer, but they probably would like to see some cash flow for a few months. The construction at The Parcel continues but with the 100 “boxes” all stacked in place they are conveniently working up-and-out of the ground.

Then there is the new Ice Rink. The deal to brand it with the L.A. Kings has been finalized. But local observers are already questioning the size and pitch of the roof system in this environment. Crews on lifts have already had to knock down cornices formed off the peak (is avalanche blasting going to be required?). What’s left is an icy mess. And now more snow. Can it survive a major winter? Maybe they could build a ski jump off of it for further recreational opportunities. Hopefully it won’t turn into some sort of embarrassment for the Kings. This signing could mean what I have believed all along–this will probably be an ice rink all year round with professional and college teams here in the summer for high altitude training. It could certainly help pay for the facility. And could be a fantastic attraction. And like I’ve said many times; Do kids really want to play inside during the Mammoth summer?

AirDNA continues to produce valuable information for STR owners and potential owners. Their most recent column on Dec. 1 looks forward to 2023. It makes some interesting points based on data (which seems to be an increasingly ignored concept these days). Here’s a couple of take-aways; the mom-and-pop hosts are actually outperforming the professional property managers. “Guests tend to prefer the personalized experience of an individual operator, even though there is no guarantee of quality. By contrast, larger property managers (especially ones operating in multiple cities or countries) are often hyper-optimized and automated which can be disappointing for those who prefer a human touch.” 

And secondly, location matters more than ever. Whether you are in a niche market like Mammoth or looking for the best ROI. “Location and value continue to be the key drivers in choosing accommodations.” In Mammoth, there are many great locations. Each has its own “features and benefits” and undestanding them really is part of the process while shopping for a property.

The first point really is the interesting one–the success and popularity of the personal service mom-and-pop STR. Over the years I have observed numerous clients and others who have built-up very successful and profitable STR properties like this only to eventually sell them. The reason? They become too time consuming and “high maintenance”. This strategy isn’t for everyone. But in Mammoth there are, at least, good property management companies who can take over. Just don’t expect the same high returns.

Noteworthy Sales 

A lower floor 2 bedroom / 2 bath at Aspen Creek closed for $659,000. Pretty healthy closing price considering the unit is subject to ~$50,000 in special assessments over the next two years. And with the current cost of materials and labor, this could be under budgeted. The project does have a great, under-appreciated location.

A larger home on upper Forest Trail closed for $1,277,000 which was $225,000 less than original asking price. It was on the market for 164 days.  

Another brand new 3 bedroom / 3.5 bath Creekhouse townhome closed for just under $1.7M. The new foundations are now buried in snow, so it probably will be at least another year before we see the finishing touches on the project. That will be nice.

Favorite New Listing for the Period

Here is another coming soon. The 1 bedroom + loft /2 bath end-unit properties in Snowcreek are very popular and can make great STR properties or second homes. They include washer/dryer hookups, which seems to be the most important buyer amenity these days. This has a fully remodeled kitchen and primary bathroom. This has been rented as a 1 bedroom unit with the owner maintaining the loft as private space. There is an additional storage loft. So this has all kinds of potential. The extra end-unit window is special in this floorplan. This location in Phase I is an easy walk to the Red Line shuttle stop. Project is in great shape. 

Coming soon at $695,000


Other Real Estate News 

The recent storms, the cold, and a slower pace in the real estate business has gratefully allowed me time to knock out my 45 hours of continuing education to renew my California Real Estate brokers license. The renewal is due Feb. 1 and it is my eighth 4-year renewal (36 years in total, where does time go?). The continuing education is quite redundant but I always try to find specific courses or course providers that offer something new and perhaps enlightening. Easier said than done.

But this time around there was something new and mandated; a 2 hour course on Implicit Bias (I said, huh?). This is a result of California Senate Bill 263 passed in September 2021. The Bill’s sponsor Senator Susan Rubio said at the time “Systemic racism and bias can make it even more difficult for a family trying to reach the American Dream of homeownership. In California, the homeownership gap for people of color is increasing and needs to be closed”.

From the course content; “There are many articles on the Internet and in libraries about the types of implicit bias. Everyone has their own views and descriptions. Following are some of the more common terms. You should be thinking of your own biases.”

The course made me think of my own biases developed after decades of real estate experience in Mammoth. Some of it made me laugh, and laugh hard. Mammoth is a real estate niche maybe like no other, especially considering where most of the clientele comes from (SoCal). It makes this the unique resort community what it is. With the wide variety of people who live and visit Mammoth, these biases are pervasive here. But in such a mild and “who cares” kind of way. Except maybe on a powder day.

Here is the list of common Biases from the course with a few added thoughts/comments from me.

#1- AFFINITY BIAS: Also known as similarity bias, is the tendency people have to connect with others who share similar interests, experiences, and backgrounds. Like people wanting to have fun in the mountains?

#2- CONFIRMATION BIAS: Is the inclination to draw conclusions about a situation or person based on your personal desires, beliefs, and prejudices rather than on unbiased merit. You say that you know that is how these stereotypes act. Yes, we’ve learned over the years that not everyone on a snowboard is a kook.

#3- ATTRIBUTION BIAS: Is a phenomenon where you try to make sense of or judge a person’s behavior based on prior observations and interactions you’ve had with that individual that make up your perception of them. “Experience is a dear teacher, but fools will learn at no other.” Benjamin Franklin

#4- CONFORMITY BIAS: Is the tendency people have to act like the people around them—peer pressure.

#5- HALO EFFECT: Is where you learn something great about someone and then place them on a pedestal. For example, they went to a name brand school or a favorite school of yours. Interestingly, one of the first things I was told when I moved to Mammoth was “Good skiers are a dime a dozen, you have to be good at other things.”

#6- HORNS EFFECT: Is the complete opposite of the halo effect and this bias can affect your thinking and your actions.

#7- CONTRAST EFFECT: When you compare two or more people with whom you have come in contact and this causes you to exaggerate the performance of one in relation to the other.

#8- GENDER BIAS: Refers to a person receiving different treatment based on the person’s real or perceived gender identity. Is Mountain Goat a potential new gender?

#9- AGEISM: Is having negative feelings about someone because of their age. Either too young or too old based on your biases. As we all know, this is one of the most common biases whether conscious (explicit) or subconscious (implicit). I’m beginning to sense these feelings in the Mammoth real estate business.

#10- NAME BIAS: People are judged on their names; sometimes you get confused because a Smith marries a Chang. You have no idea how many times I have been called Howard…..

#11- BEAUTY BIAS: A social behavior where people believe that attractive people are more successful, competent and qualified. A Central Casting type executive can move up the ladder faster, talented or not. Have you were noticed how many successful Realtors are attractive women??

#12- HEIGHT BIAS: The tendency to judge a person by whether he or she is short or tall. There are many surveys that show taller men make more money than short men.

#13- ANCHOR BIAS: Someone who hangs on to some early piece of information from that person and judges people based on it.

#14- NON-VERBAL BIAS: A weak handshake, folded arms, no eye contact. You might judge someone based on this external fact.

#15- AUTHORITY BIAS: Something has to be true because it came from a real authority. Follow the leader.

#16- OVERCONFIDENCE BIAS: You have a tendency to have more confidence in your abilities than you should have.

#17- RACE AND ETHNICITY BIAS: You assume certain characteristics about someone based on these factors. Asians are better at math, Jewish are better at medical situations, Blacks are better athletes, Hispanics have trouble with English and this is not always true.

#18- DISABILITY BIAS: It is sad but true that many capable people with disabilities are not treated equally.

#19- LGBTQIA+ BIAS: When someone would without thinking discriminate against gays, transgender, and others.

#20- WEIGHT BIAS: Decisions are made based not on facts of the situation but whether the person is overweight or underweight.

#21- TATTOOS, HAIR AND DRESS, and ETC. BIAS: A prospect for a position in your company is dismissed because of appearance with ability never considered. I’m beginning to think I will be discriminated against in the future because I don’t have any tattoos.

#22- LIFE STYLE, MUSIC, and ETC. BIAS: People are judged by their lifestyle.

#23- RELIGION AND POLITICAL BIAS: Two of the oldest biases and still prevalent today.

#24- WEALTH BIAS: Someone is judged based on their assets in comparison to other people. Hmmm…I don’t know anyone in the real estate business who doesn’t have this bias.

#25- REGIONAL BIASES: Where was the person raised? In the South, Flyover, Europe.

And there are many, many more.


The good news is that I passed the class and have renewed my license. And now I’m more bias-aware than ever before. For what it is worth.

Happy Holidays!! I plan to be back after the 1st.


Thanks for reading! Please stay healthy.

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

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