Mammoth Real Estate Sales Report – April 14, 2024

Winter Sticks Around For One Last Weekend, But Warm Weather Is On Tap !

Market Summary –   March 31  to April 14 

The Mammoth Lakes MLS is reporting 13 real estate closings for the period ranging from a low of $225,000 to a high of $3,000,000. Of the 13 closings, 11 were financeable properties and seven (7) were closed with financing. These numbers have been amazingly consistent the last few months (slow and steady?). The closings included two (2) Creekhouse units in the last creekside building and two (2) vacant lots—one a premium Starwood lot and a multi-family lot in The Ghetto. This period last year there were eight (8) closings, but the town was literally buried.  
The 10-year Treasury yield was up significantly at the end of the period to 4.50%. The 30- year conventional mortgage rates moved accordingly into the 7.30% range. Last Wednesday’s 10-year auction was described as “catastrophic” due to the lack of buyers, and hence the significant rise in yields, and mortgage rates. The pundits remain mixed on the long-term trend. The Fed “rate cuts” have become inconsequential. But will the Fed become the new buyer for the 10-year? Many think so. The higher rates continue to suppress the buyer interest in STR properties. Higher rates will certainly make it worse. A recent John Burns/New Home Trends survey shows a growing percentage (now 33%) of potential homebuyers are “waiting for mortgage rates to decline.”  Those ~3% mortgages are looking better all the time, especially as time goes by and more principal is being paid monthly. This time last year the 10-year was at 3.288%.

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end the condominium inventory is up one (1) to 55. There were nine (9) new listings in the period and three (3) have already gone to escrow.  What condos went to contract/escrow in period? They include a couple of higher-end townhomes at Mountainside (right at Canyon Lodge) and Snowcreek 5, one of the last Creekhouse units, the newer Canyon Ski & Racquet listing,  a modern Mountain Blvd. townhome, and units at St. Anton, Horizons Four and Timberline. A broad mix of sales. This time last year there were 33 condos on the market. 

Single-Family Home Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes is up three (3) to 15. There were four (4) new listings in the period and one has already gone to contract. One of the new listings in the Mammoth Knolls features a fabulous forested location and a 1974 built home. The interest level was incredibly high with more than 10 offers by today. Interesting. I spent considerable time in the property and the defects are curable, but will be costly. Another home located in the Mammoth Knolls sold almost immediately. It is a property that has significant days-on-market in the past 10 years. This time last year there were 12 homes on the market. 

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is down two (2) to 33 at period’s end. The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) is down seven (7) to 50. This time last year it was 25 and 36 respectively. My general impression of the market is that nobody is in a hurry. I’m talking to several sellers who intend to put their properties on the market in the coming months, but none are anxious to get to the market. Most buyers have some level of hesitancy too. I was in one of the local escrow company’s office on Friday and they told me they had a number of cancellations where the buyers canceled one transaction to move to another property/transaction. Hmmm…Their escrow volume has to be at a five year low, between sales and refinances. They also said “Paul, it’s an election year!”…(like I didn’t know). So for now there is no sense of urgency in the market, from neither buyers nor sellers.

Market Updates and News

Classic early spring weather. Last weekend’s crowd got true winter snow but this past week turned to spring fast with sunny skies and temps in the 50s. And then colder temps, and light snow, and temperatures barely came over freezing today. This weekend’s ski and snowboard crowd was lighter and should be the start of the spring decline of tourism. But the fisherman will be here soon and a warmer forecast should give them great access to the variety of lakes and streams. Far better than last year. Mammoth’s “average” winter will melt out quick and maybe we can have a “normal” summer. 

On April 3 the Town Council heard the appeal of the Planning Commission decision to approve the cell tower installation at Fire Station #2 on Old Mammoth Road. This is adjacent to recently finished Creekhouse properties. The proposed cell tower is 80 feet tall and the appearance is described as a “stealth monopine” (fake pine tree). There was significant public testimony including many impassioned new Creekhouse owners opposed to the location and proximity to their properties. The location is within 50-100 feet from newly purchased and occupied units. 

There was also extensive legal positioning by the proponent”s (AT&T) attorneys. Cell (5G) towers apparently have tremendous legal rights in today’s society. Visual impacts and potential health impacts take a back seat to the need for additional cell coverage. The laws are apparently quite clear. Local decision making bodies can certainly be intimidated by the enormity of the laws. 

The most compelling and immediate demand for this new tower is for emergency communication in the Old Mammoth neighborhood. Apparently it is inadequate in this day and age. (I owned two new homes and lived in Old Mammoth for over 10 years and it was never a problem back then.) Even worse, the historic and current access to Old Mammoth, one-way-in and one-way-out, has now become a major public safety concern. And “climate change” has exacerbated these conditions (as stated by one Council member). After more than three hours of public presentation and comment, the Council made quick work of denying the appeal. There was no discussion or consideration for an alternative site (there are options but that would delay the project.)

I have no specific information or insight, but I’m thinking there is litigation over this matter on the immediate horizon. There was dubious public “notification” of this cell tower project. It caught many by surprise including the Creekhouse developer their brokerage. Many of the new owners are claiming they weren’t properly notified. Based on how slowly Mono County processes new owner (tax roll) records, especially in brand new APNs (Assessor Parcel Numbers), the claim of improper notification is quite plausible. We’ll see how this goes.

Personally, one of the most intriguing aspects of this public meeting was the proponent’s attorneys. Their faces were prominently displayed via Zoom. Their sheepish expressions during some of the emotional public testimony was telling. I was thinking; imagine going to law school so that you become an “expert” at ramming 5G towers into people’s lives. How sad. You can look for your self starting about the 3:30 mark.

And one Snowcreek Properties agent reminded me this past week that the original Snowcreek developer, Tom Dempsey, had donated the fire department parcel (Station 2) to the fire district many years ago. The irony.

The Limelight construction crew is back in full force. The opening is scheduled sometime in 2025 so they will be pushing to get the structure “buttoned up” before next winter. 

The RMF-2 STR moratorium is scheduled to end on the 22nd. But the damage is done. There is more real estate related news down below in the Other section.

Noteworthy Sales 

After some impressive, comparable closings in the mid-$600K range, a Bigwood 1 bedroom + loft / 2 bath unit closed for $575,000. But for the most part, it was in original condition. What I find amazing? The kitchen and bath countertops are the original 55-year old Formica and still quite serviceable. The granite of the 1960s. But no avocado or pumpkin colors like we still see around town.

A Joaquin St. fourplex closed for $1,142,000. This property had been on the market previously and sat. It sold rather quickly in the current market. The good news for this segment of the market—the purchase was financed, so financing, and maybe more importantly insurance, were obtainable.

Other Real Estate News

Rental applications for the new housing units at The Parcel and the Innsbruck Lodge property are being processed. The almost 90 new units should be settled and occupied by the end of the year. It will be interesting to see how this new supply affects the demand or “wait list.” Over the years people put their names on the wait list and then move out of the region never to be heard from again. So the wait list numbers can be deceptive. It will also be interesting to see how many people who are currently “living in their cars” will actually want to pay rent (even though subsidized). 

Speaking of living in vehicles, the Town has approved a location for an overnight parking lot/safe zone for those living in their cars. The lot is on Substation Road below the geothermal plant next to the dog sled kennel and home. But according to a recent article in The Daily Signal, these parking lots are becoming more common due to the systemic housings crisis across the nation. The resort town of Sedona, Arizona has a new lot and the city is providing restroom and shower facilities for the occupants of the lot. The old sheriff substation parcel is at a lower elevation and has good sun, so this is probably a good location. Maybe they could borrow some hot water from the geothermal plant for heat and hot showers.

The Mammoth Lakes Planning Commission was busy this last week with several design review applications. The first was a new proposal for the Main and Minaret corner (Nevados) that had been previously approved and pre-sale marketed for the YotelPad (keep that memorabilia!). The project proponent is the same developer currently finishing the Obsidian Villas project and building The Reserve. The project named “Rockspring” is a condo hotel project with understructure parking (which was purportedly the cost “dealbreaker” for the Yotelpad). The design review went through several iterations to meet the overall design criteria of the 30-year old North Village Specific Plan (see below). The project was ultimately approved, and we’ll see if they actually get to breaking ground this summer.

The second item was renovation plan for the Mammoth Mall (boy does it need it—the winter of 2023 almost destroyed it). The renovation plan includes a second story restaurant on the Old Mammoth Road side and an elevated outdoor patio for the Good Life Cafe above what is left of the covered parking area. This would be nice to see completed, along with some additional stable tenants.

The third item was a design review of the Town’s proposed new Civic Center building. The current budget is $25M, but as we know, anything with the Town takes twice as long and costs twice as much. I’m not really sure what the “wing” roof line is all about. Maybe they should just build another Sprung structure.

Meanwhile, the lead article this week from Strong Towns was titled “It’s Not Just Houston That’s Broke. So Are Silicon Valley Cities”  My takeaway? Many municipalities don’t perform Reserve Studies and maintenance budgets like the State mandates for HOAs.   

You can read the article but I’ll just leave you with a couple of quotes that may be applicable to our own local situation.

“Not knowing what the future holds in terms of unpayable maintenance obligations—not bothering to even find out how much they are—has not hindered cities like Santa Clara from pursuing race-to-the-bottom growth policies. In fact, their current revenue shortfalls make them all the more desperate for large, silver-bullet kind of projects.” How many years will it take Mammoth to get there? 

Or how about, “What is overwhelmingly obvious today was just too easy to ignore in the exuberance of the day; all of this stuff would someday need to be maintained.”

And forgive me for suggesting that local government should exhibit some businesslike acumen, “I’m sure the mayor wants to believe this—I’m not suggesting otherwise—but this is a delusion. It is like a company is losing money on every product line they have, yet not bothering to do the accounting work to understand why, instead launching two new product lines. And one of them is failing and the other one is behind schedule!”

Mammoth now has a $30M Ice Rink that isn’t finished and on most afternoons has more employees than users, a soon to be $50M civic center (just watch, they can’t help themselves), a coming new performing arts center, and more. All of the workforce housing projects are aging and require additional subsidy. The trail system actually requires more maintenance than one could imagine. The streets are a mess, especially after last winter. Rumor is they will finally get to landscaping Main St., but those of us suckers who are part of the Old Mammoth Assessment District (and paying in for almost 25 years), will likely have to wait longer for any improvements. I could go on.

And how long before Mammoth Lakes Tourism wants more money for a new Philanthropy Development Dept.?

Thanks for reading!

None of this content has been plagiarized.


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

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