Big New Year’s Week Storms Great For The State, But Not For Skiers!
Market Summary – December 11 to January 1
Single-Family Home Inventory
Market Updates and News
The crowds were big but the weather was a mixed bag through the period. Lots of good skiing to be had, and plenty of disappointment especially in the last few days. The Christmas weekend was pure bluebird and New Year’s weekend turned into a big, wet storm that made it difficult for the lift crews to de-ice the lifts and get operational. There has been very limited lift operation the last few days. All of the new “powder” was wet and mostly wind impacted. The last week has seen impressive waves of pineapple express moisture that now is more commonly referred to as an atmospheric river. The waves are scheduled to continue through next weekend.
Mammoth did experince periods of serious rain this last week. Great radar based-weather sites like windfinder.com are fantastic modelng for watching the AR waves come through. The most fascinating aspect of the last week was how the heavy precipitation lingered on the west side of the Sierra Nevada and in the Central Valley. This is great news for the State. Many cities to the due west of us are reporting ~200% of precipitation already for the season.
The IKON Pass blackout is lifted for the next two weeks and town is likely to get even busier. This has been the tradition. But the storm cycle and limited lift operation has guests watching. A couple of my significant STR operating clients reported in to me in the last two weeks with feedback. Looks like it was an important period to pay attention to booking software and the algorithms. Total December revenue will be a monster compared to last year but it came at more nights and lower rates. Luxury properties needed more aggressive rates. There was apparently demand through the entire month, not surpising based on the snow conditions, but renters were shopping rates. The rest of the season is likely to be similar.
Nikki from the previous YotelPad sales team stopped by my office before Christmas to announce they are opening a sales office for 15 penthouse units at the Limelight. Prices wil start in the low $2M range. They ran full-page ads in The Sheet over the hoilday and will soon have a sales office in the Village. The plan I have has 23 penthouse units on the 5th and 6th floors including two ulimate penthouse units. Nikki said that the architect is redrawing the units in the upper floors. The penthouse floors will have their own elevator. Mammoth has arrived. Meanhile the construction site is buried in snow. These pre-sale efforts have always good for the local real estate business.
Many people may have noticed that the snow removal and hauling dump trucks have been driving out to the Meadow instead of down Highway 203. The currrent Forest Service Ranger has delayed approval of the long-standing “snow pit” lease for further environmental studies. One of the old-time local jokes is the revolving door of these District Rangers and the pretended accountability. Meanwhile there are geothermal well heads, massive above gound plumbing and geothermal plants on either side of this storage area. The area has seen significant industrial development and is also used heavily for recreation. Luckily, Chadmar and the Snowcreek 8 property is avaiable—they have been doing dirt work out there for years. And maybe even more comical, the same type of snow and “urban debris”, etc. that is of environmental concern at the snow pit is the same that will pile-up at the new Ice Rink and flow right into Mammoth Creek. Maybe the new FSDR could reference to Town’s EIR on this topic.
It isn’t easy to pass a New Year’s Eve without thinking about opening The Charthouse 41 years ago. I was a 22-year old headwaiter that night and the bizarre thing that still stands out was all of the ski jackets that ended up on the floor because there was no place to put them. They were everywhere and thank goodness nobody got hurt or ended-up with a steak in their lap. And I don’t think anybody cared, it was a deep recession and people were here to ski, and a chance to meet Dave McCoy. I slept in the bar those first few weeks and vaccummed first thing in the morning, this being one of my own personal experiences with tight workforce housing in Mammoth Lakes. With the Bleu vacancy, it would be nice to see The Charthouse come back. The rent would have to right. Meanwhile, the old Campo spot is still vacant in the Village and the old Rafters space never got opened either.
As for 2023 predictions, I’ll pass. …….all the new snow is great. And there should be continued interest in Mammoth and Mammoth real estate. And as always, Mammoth is a great place to recreate, and hide.
The closed sales show some continued priced support in some segments of the condo market. The significant overbidding at Courchevel for sure.
White Mountain Lodge closed for $950,000. This is a corner, lowest floor 2 bedroom /2 bath overlooking the Minaret and Forest Trail intersection. No significant upgrades. Bring your ear plugs. The traffic and heavy equipment noise is real. Caltrans starts early.
A reasonably nice remodeled 2 bedroom + loft / 2.75 bath at Seasons Four closed for just over $800,000 with all the concessions mixed in. Very funky loft arrangement, but the kids will have fun. There were multiple offers on it too.
A clean Sierra Park Villas 1 bedroom / 1.5 bath closed for $519,000. The lack of a shower in the downstairs bath is a serious compromise. Of course, there’s always the common area.
I never report the hangars at Mammoth Aiport, including the more modern Hot Creek Aviation units, as real esate sales. But there was a sale of an Executive II Hangar for $295,000. These are great 2400 square foot hangars with insulation and heating and can house two airplanes, or a plane and lots of toys. Nice high door opening can accommodate large bus-type RVs. More strong price support.
Favorite New Listing for the Period
I’ve known this seller for decades and he’s owned the house longer than I’ve known him. He even sold real estate part time off-and-on over the years. A true vagabond lifestyle that many would envy. The property has had multiple individual tenants over the years (easy to tell by the cars that have been parked in front). This is 4 bedrooms / 1.75 baths in just under 1500 square feet. But this is an incredible ski and golf location, a short flat walk to Eagle Express and backs right up to the Town’s bike path and Sierra Star golf holes. The big sweeping corner in front opens up tremendous views of Mammoth Mountain and Mammoth Pass. Great sun and neighborhood. I guess this is a contractor’s special with an eye for location.
Other Real Estate News
This holiday period featured an increased and significant appearance of electric vehicles (EVs) in Mammoth including mostly Teslas, and a handful of new Rivian SUVs and truck models. By-and-large the weather during the period was quite Tesla friendly; warmer days and the precipitation at town level was more rain than snow. Most piles and berming of roadway snow either melted or was washed away. All of this makes life easy in Mammoth especially when there are big crowds in town. But there were plenty of Teslas chained-up as they were leaving town this morning. And the roads were relatively clear.
But all of this isn’t the norm in Mammoth. Just a couple of weeks ago during a colder snowstorm a Tesla Model S was ditched at the side of the private road leading to my home. It wasn’t obvious whether it had run out of power or was stuck (what we call high-centered). The owner just decided to leave it there impeding traffic and snow removal operations. It stayed there for three days. In the old days of the 1970s and 80s the heavy equipment guys would bury a car like that, or push it somewhere that would make it horribly inconvenient to retrieve. Not today. They meticulously work around it and the owners are seldom reprimanded for their lack of responsibility.
Overall I’m rather indifferent to EVs (and forget any debate that they are “green”). As a teenager who was interested in hot rods way back when, the acceleration sounds like fun. But it may be trouble for this senior citizen today. And I tend to be a “late adopter” anyway. Maybe an EV will work when I get to my golf cart phase of life.
For those who have actually lived in the Mammoth environment there are two (or more) realities about your personal vehicle you intent to drive in foul weather. The first is that it needs to be warm, the second is that it needs clearance. The beauty of internal combustion engines is that they naturally produce heat without any excessive strain on the system. This is critical to remove ice and frost from your windows to drive safely. And the people riding in the cabin of the vehicle will certainly want to be warm too.
On cold, stormy days you often see vehicles idling in parking lots with no occupants—it is certainly easier to burn a little fuel than to come back out and scrap all the windshields down again and warm things up. Again, all of this puts little strain on the vehicle. For a vehicle with a battery, you better have a good charge. But ditching your expensive car on the side of the road is always an option.
The topic of clearance is a whole different story. If your vehicle lacks clearance, you better carry a shovel. I highly recommend it for anyone who frequents Mammoth in the winter. And EV owners have an interesting issue; the compacted snow and ice they are high-centered on is right where the battery of the vehicle is. Which brings another interesting tidbit; do Tesla owners want a plastic shovel or a steel shove? The plastic isn’t very good on hard stuff like ice. A steel shovel could damage the undercarriage where the battery is. A fire and ice scenario could be interesting. And further, Caltrans is increasingly using a saline solution on the roads ahead of storms. Some think that could negatively affect EVs.
A Tesla certainly wouldn’t work for me. I prefer a truck model that includes skid plates (like a Z71). Icy berms can ruin critical components on the underside of a vehicle. And in the past, stormy days were popular for bored people to want to go out and see property.
Recently, New York City had plans to have their new electric garbage trucks plowing snow on the city streets. It didn’t work. It takes power and torque to push snow. The battery charge was expired in around four hours. So they were back to using their diesel powered pick-ups to plow the snow. (You have to wonder if there were any engineers involved in the electric garbage truck/plowing snow decision?) Hopefully none of our new Town Council members get the same brainy idea, especially now that we have to haul all of our garbage to Nevada.
I’ve seem some of the new Rivian vehicles in town the last few weeks. They have the clearance, and large tall tires, but we’ll see how reliable they are. Back in the 1980s and 90s the local auto mechanics used to say “the most common scene in Mammoth is a Range Rover on the back of a tow truck”. It was true. Today I have a hard time wrapping my head around purchasing an almost experimental vehicle for ~$100K from a company with no real track record and a massive declining stock price. I guess a lease is the way to go. The company is based in Irvine so maybe some of my readers have some input?
I recently saw a Rivian SUV in a parking garage with a love letter taped to the rear windshield pleading to “swap” designated parking spaces so they could access the nearby electrical outlet. This might become a new important buyer preference? And will HOAs be petitioned to add more outlets to their parking areas?
Meanwhile, used Tesla prices are down 17% since November according to a recent New York Post article, far exceeding other used car price drops. So with lower prices they could become as popular as the IKON Pass itself. That could make stormy weather and big crowds even more entertaining in Mammoth.
The good news for EV owners who come to Mammoth is that there will be a new charging station adjacent to the new Ice Rink at Mammoth Creek Park. You’ll be able to watch some hockey or other skaters while you charge your vehicle. And just because we have a massive geothermal electricity producing plant in our backyard, don’t expect electricity to be cheap. And it may become even more expensive if they outlaw wood burning and gas heat in the future.
Happy New Year!
Thanks for reading! Please stay healthy.