Cooler Weather Slows The Great Melt, And Local R.E. Market Heats Up!
Market Summary – April 23 to May 7
Single-Family Home Inventory
Market Updates and News
May is known as “mud month” in many mountain resort communities. It certainly is a time of transition. There are already patches of green grass at many condos projects, but massive piles of dense, dirty snowpack remain everywhere else. The general attitude of local residents is one of exhaustion, and the snow can’t go away soon enough. The famous Eastern Sierra fishing opener has never been so constrained. It was almost like it didn’t happen. Maybe come back in August. Many Mammoth residents will be going on their well-deserved annual post-winter vacations. And some are working on moving out-of-town.
Many of the Mammoth condo HOAs utilize a local company named Butner HOA Services for their accounting, dues collection, bill paying and general State mandated “clearinghouse” duties. The owner of the company stated last week that “special assessment meetings were nonstop”. Most HOAs are looking at snow removal bills for the winter of 2023 that are ~500% of the previously established budget. And that isn’t because the budgets were shortchanged. The winter was that excessive, not only due to the volume of snow (water), but also persistently low (sub freezing) temperatures and viscous wind all in the mix. Extensive roof shoveling and trucking snow to offsite storage got very expensive. The special assessments are running $5,000 to $15,000 per unit depending on size of the unit and location. These large special assessments are permissible as “emergency assessments.”
The Limelight, Sierra Nevada Inn, and Town Ice Rink construction projects are moving back into full swing. Despite the limited visibility caused by the lingering snowpack, I can already see new single-family construction in several locations including on the rim of The Bluffs (see above). It will be a busy summer of construction and reconstruction. Crews from out-of-town will be welcome. The eyesore, abandoned four-plex next door to Stonegate collapsed this winter. The Town will finally have the power to get rid of it. A similar abandoned property on Alpine Circle survived. Amazing really. It shows how this winter impacted properties so differently. The base of Chair 16 (Canyon Express) has been dug out and removed. The Ski Area is pushing for enough time for the replacement and realignment.
The crews at Sierra Star golf course were blowing snow out of the greens this past week. Clearly they are doing what it takes to get ready for play. At the Snowcreek Golf Course, the rumor is they won’t open at all, although ownership was quoted in The Sheet last week that it was undecided. Snowcreek in the Meadow has almost entirely melted-out. Sierra Star has several feet of snowpack. Mammoth is currently a fascinating study of how sunlight melts snow.
Amongst all the other trials and tribulations, Mammoth experienced power outages during the period. I went almost 36 hours without power at home during one of them. I’ve become fond of the construction lights based on the DeWalt 20volt batteries commonly used for power tools. They last a long time and are quite versatile. I highly recommend them for anyone traveling to Mammoth. On the other hand, the power outages will make it difficult to charge your Tesla. Plan accordingly.
U.S. News recently ran an article The 25 Counties With The Longest Life Expectancy. It is part of their Healthiest Communities series. Surprisingly (or not surprisingly) Mono County came in at #2 in the entire United States. North of Mammoth, Mono County is a pretty laid-back and healthy place. There is very little industry, no railroads and no traffic lights. I’m thinking if Mammoth wasn’t in Mono County it would have easily been #1. Regardless, this is a great selling point for being here.
Two older, smaller 1970’s built condos sold for $500,000 plus. Discovery Four and St. Anton. Still very good price support for this segment of the market.
Favorite New Listing For The Period
If the photo above brings back wonderful happy hour or dining memories, you are not alone. After months of trying to find a first-class tenant for the old Slocums property, the owner has decided to offer it for sale. The problem; established, experienced and financially sound operators like to own their properties and not be tenants. I’ve talked to dozens of prospective tenants and the variety of ideas is interesting. Some think “just paint the walls, clean the carpets and fire it back up”. Others envision $million remodels. The one thing I emphasize is that the history of this building is a BAR. Yes, it was a nice white table restaurant, but in its 37 year history as Slocums, it was know for the bar (what’s better than great bar in a ski town?). That is why visitors who haven’t been in Mammoth for years will gravitate back to this location. Incredible Main St. location, over 5,000 square feet under roof, plenty of parking both onsite and public. The kitchen, bar and dining room are all intact. Full liquor license available. Great owner/operator opportunity.
Other Real Estate News
One of the websites I occasionally visit is bogleheads.com. It has never been a flashy site but once in awhile there are some great insights from people who are investment minded, are thinking seriously about retirement (or already have retired), and are going about living their lives. And note, I do not own any Vanguard funds, but John Bogle, the father of index funds, was a favorite study and gave great live interviews.
A recent topic on the site was “Our Realtor Is Firing Us”. Hmmmm….The original poster (OP) spells out a lengthy process of looking at ~40 homes, making offers, backing out of deals, etc., and also being bound to their Realtor with a buyer broker agreement. The thread produced fascinating comments and “takes” on the situation, including the usual Realtor hating (“all Realtors are over paid”, “doesn’t take much education”, etc.), as well as comments of value—this is a niche group of people who are typically fanatical about investing and index funds.
For the most part, I’m incredibly patient with buyers and sellers of real estate. Other agents and brokers aren’t so inclined. I avoid obnoxious people entirely, but they have been few-and-far between in my decades of business here in Mammoth. And admittedly, I’ve been too generous over the years with people I dub “time wasters,” but less so in more recent years. And ultimately, when someone stops respecting my personal freedoms, I move on.
Back to “Our Realtor is Firing Us”. After weighing some comments, the OP comes back “I also realize a lot of this is my fault for being so picky about a house. Most of the houses we viewed were houses we found on our own on Zillow or Realtor.com. We looked at the pictures before viewing. The problem is the pictures are skewed to make the houses look more appealing and many details are left out. If the pictures were higher resolution it would help considerably. Also there are details like if our vehicles will fit in the garage that are impossible to tell from pictures. Most of the houses we looked at were not maintained well or had other issues….I think we are going to pursue building a house since we are having such a tough time finding an existing home we love.” (I say good luck finding a contractor.)
But on to the worthwhile comments; “One of the values a realtor adds is to preview houses. They learn your needs and tastes, look at places themselves, and don’t waste a bunch of your time showing you inappropriate places. They can preview places much faster by themselves than if they’re trying to drag a client around. It sounds like you were trying to do the legwork online yourselves for some reason, which, as you’ve seen, doesn’t work very well.”
This is probably the most common state of my business today. Buyers that I am working with see a new listing online and want my input, the good and bad, the features, benefits and negatives. Many times there is clearly something that will eliminate the property from their search. And sometimes my bias against the property is strong (I know too much). It is also why actually looking at properties IS valuable, even if it isn’t a fit (but 40 or more properties is way too much—most buyers get confused after the sixth property). Buyers need to become focused on their priorities and their “drop dead” issues.
And in this situation, the OP has backed-out of previous transactions. This puts the agent in a tough spot for future work (I’ve been in the scenario before and it can become a very good reason to fire a client). From the comments, “Backing out of two deals is problematic. Realtors talk to each other and they need their colleagues to trust what they say. Your realtor is now in the position having brought in two offers that blew up. The realtors on the other side and the clients may be, rightly, angry and your realtor has taken a hit to her reputation, which is critical in her business.
If I were selling a house, absolutely I would want to know that a bidder had backed out of two previous deals. At times, I recall realtors telling us that an offer was coming or had come in, but they could not recommend it. I suspect this is the sort of thing that lead to those statements. By now, many realtors in your area should know about the failed deals. They are obligated to bring their clients any offer you may make, but they should also warn the clients that this offer may well evaporate. There’s a reputation hit to the realtor with that kind of thing. And you need your rep in that line of work.”
Some buyers think they can just “make offers” because they “can always cancel.” In a tight real estate community like Mammoth, this attitude is a perfect way to end up owning the worst possible property. I’ve seen it in the past.
Which leads me to this comment, “This is Bogleheads, where my job is the only one that requires skill and should be paid well. Everyone else is just a monkey with a pen, and the computer does all the work anyway. Or a moose with a hammer, doing things that can be learned on YouTube. Heaven forbid anyone else earn a living doing something as mundane as negotiating deals on houses….Except for the very top end, real estate agents don’t earn like doctors or dentists, either. And much of what goes into learning to be a good agent is learned on the job, not in a classroom.
As far as your deal, you missed out on the knowledge and expertise a good agent can bring to a real estate purchase. Which was kind of my point about Bogleheads thinking nobody else’s expertise is worth anything. You don’t even know what you didn’t know on that transaction.” You don’t even know what you didn’t know on that transaction. Priceless.
And some other interesting comments; “Maybe this is why realtor fees are nonsensical: some clients take up an extraordinary amount of their time.” (Do you know how many people I have spent hours and hours of time with over the decades and it has never panned out to anything worthwhile? Such is the “risk” of the business. And there is no paywall on my blog site.)
And, “IMHO a buyer should only place an offer to buy when they want to buy. Any pressure from a realtor should be dismissed out of hand.” Amen.
And this, “I think he (OP) was a bit naive to how the professions work. Whenever you deal with a CPA, an Investment Advisor, a Realtor, an Attorney, a professional salesperson; you have to realize that time is money. Be friendly but limit the chit-chat and get right to the issues at hand. At some point, if one takes up too much time for the benefit received, you get dropped as a client. I had to learn this myself.”
There was plenty more. But reading all of it helped me realize once again how liberating it is to be able to work for who I want, and on what I want. I was fired from my first three jobs in Mammoth, and not because I was doing a poor job. I decided then it was best to work for myself. I was canceled from the Mammoth Times after writing columns for them for 20 years, for free. The knowledge of owning my own platform was something I learned a long time ago. It is a lesson many have only recently learned, including all the way to the highest office in the land.
Being fired or canceled is never pleasant, but most times there is a valuable lesson to be learned.
Thanks for reading!