Mammoth Real Estate Sales Report – May 12, 2024

More Signs Mammoth Will Have A Real Summer!

Market Summary –   April 28  to May 12 

The Mammoth Lakes MLS is reporting eight (8) real estate closings for the period ranging from a low of $575,000 to a high of $2,075,000. Of the eight (8) closings, all were financeable properties and five (5) were closed with financing. More than half the closings were sales above $1,250,000. The closings included a slope-side condo at Eagle Run that closed at $1,340 per square foot. This is a new psf peak in the market. A Hooper-style fourplex (with garages) closed at $1,250,000. A low-end home closed that had several hundred days on market (DOM) through the sales push of the last 3.5 years. This period last year there were only four (4) closings.   
 
The 10-year Treasury yield moved down at the end of the period to 4.50%. No one knows who is really buying the 10-year at this point The quoted 30-year conventional mortgage rate moved from the 7.50% range ~7.15%. That helps the market. The big buzz in the mortgage industry this last week was that mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac asked its regulator to enter the secondary mortgage market, or home equity loans, which would allow homeowners to borrow against the equity in their houses. Letting Freddie Mac do this for home equity loans could start putting $1 trillion into consumers’ wallets as soon as this summer and $2 trillion by the autumn with potential stimulus potentially topping $3 trillion. We’ll see. The interest rates could be high, but it would likely stimulate the economy, or bail out those in tight economic spots. Or maybe lots of equity-rich SoCal homeowners could borrow enough to pay cash for a Mammoth second home? There is no mention whether these new loans would be recourse or not. This time last year the 10-year yield was at 3.351%.
 

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end the condominium inventory is down two (2) to 54. There are still the three (3) under-construction properties at The Reserve in the inventory. There were six (6) new listings this weekend including some attractive low-end condos at Horizons Four, Mountain Shadows and Wildflower. There were 13 new listings in the period and three (3) have already gone to escrow. Two of them are prime Village condo hotel units priced at ~$1,200+ psf. Impressive for this segment. What condos went to contract/escrow in the period? They include units at The Reserve, Canyon Ski & Racquet, Crestview, La Residence, Tyrolean Village, Snowcreek 5, Sierra Manors, Mammoth Creek, Mountainback, MeadowRidge, Sierra Park Villas, and a Hidden Valley Studio (the cheapest condo on the market). Quite the variety. This time last year there were 28 condos on the market.
 

Single-Family Home Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes is down one (1) to nine (9). Buyers are resisting the three (3) homes priced under $1M (I know, I’ve shown them.) Probably the best home value on the market in Majestic Pines went to contract. Two (2) quality single-family home lots went to contract; one in the small Crooked Pines subdivision where STR is allowed and one in the Slopes that had been previously offered with a $3+M spec home. This time last year there were 11 homes on the market.
 

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is up six (6) to 48 at period’s end. The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) is up eight (8) to 71. This time last year the numbers were 37 and 54 respectively. The market is showing good real estate activity considering the crowds are gone and Mammoth is in transition from winter to summer and the town and real estate are in melt-out and clean-up mode (sometimes referred to as “mud month”). Properties don’t always show their best this time of year, but almost oddly there are buyers poking around. There are other sellers preparing their properties for the market. Mammoth will have a blip of visitors on Memorial Day weekend (Mule Days in Bishop is a popular draw) but normally stays quiet until the Motocross crowd arrives in late June.
 

Market Updates and News

Beautiful spring weather was interrupted last weekend with a cold front that dumped a foot of snow on the Ski Area and six inches at town level. Accumulating snow is annoying this time of year but it added a little water content on top of the season total. Traveling Hwy. 395 both north and south, the lakes are the fullest I can ever recall, especially to the north. It should be a great summer to explore the regions to the north of Mammoth. The forecast next week has some days in the low 70s. Mammoth deserves a real summer after last year.

Spring is bringing a boom in real estate-related construction. And it appears it will accelerate. There may even be some welcome surprises. Intense in-ground activity at the base of the Limelight will facilitate burying the ugly mess of power lines at the south end of the project along Lake Mary Road. This corner/end of the building is where the multi-million dollar penthouse private ownership units will be. They certainly don’t want those units looking at the mountain views through a maze of power lines.

The Main St. landscape and beautification project is finally getting underway. The new sidewalk system and shuttle stops get used significantly, especially in summer. But the dirt-scape has lingered while the Town has been focused on their more grandiose projects. I can’t wait to see what the landscape architects came up with; hopefully it includes some proven and appropriate drought-tolerant plantings. But as history has proven, we’ll probably get more sod and maybe some palm trees.

The new STR Certification process is working towards becoming reality. The Town has met with the lodging industry and is refining the proposed process. The Town will initially target STR properties that have previously escaped inspections. These are properties “grandfathered” into STR activity prior to 2015 (the initial Quality of Life Ordinance) and that have not transferred ownership since then. We’ll see what sort of new authoritarian regulations the Town comes up with. Some STR owners have actually expressed nervousness over potential new inspections. Hopefully, it won’t be that bad. 

The first phase of workforce housing at The  Parcel (known as The Sawyer) is about to open for occupancy and construction cost overruns have come in at $ 9 million or more than $100,000 per unit. Now if we could get some transparent (full) accounting at the Ice Rink, and the project is far from finished. The “CRC”/Ice Rink facility has basically sat closed and idle for the last month since the tourist crowds have moved out. At least the Tesla lease brings some utility to the project.  

The new NAR litigation-based commission and agency regulations are now scheduled to begin August 17. But the State industry has not finalized the new “standards of practice” and the new working forms. Various real estate coaches and mentors continue to push their ideas on the “new way” of buyer representation. But for now it is business as usual, and the future might be very similar to the past with some additional paperwork. And the consensus is that buyers won’t get any real benefit out of what will be the new process, and it could end up becoming a big negative for them.

It is “break” time in Mammoth after a busy winter season. In the 1980s we referred to it as “the Sun Valley attitude” where they close the doors and take six weeks off after winter. Mammoth’s doesn’t afford that type of break in 2024, but it is vacation time for most local residents. Then get ready for a busy summer.

Noteworthy Sales 

A Mountainside townhome was the high sale of the period at $2,075,000. One of the first resales in this project. These newer (2019) 3 bedroom / 3 bath townhomes are right across the street from Canyon Lodge on a property once owned by Intrawest and planned for a boutique hotel. Developed by long-time contractor John Hooper—seems like his properties have always held value. 

A Horizons Four 1+ loft / 2 bath closed for $575,000. This popular 70s-built floor plan exists all over town and remains a popular upstairs unit with excellent utility with very good STR potential. At this price range, these are probably some of the better buys in town.

Other Real Estate News

Airbnb’s Q1 2024 corporate earnings  and future forecasts were in the news this last week. Bloomberg was reporting stronger results compared to their estimates. The overall numbers are actually quite impressive, and perhaps telling about the STR industry. Total revenue for the first quarter was $2.14 billion which was up 18% year-over-year. Bloomberg’s estimate was $2.06 B. The “gross booking value” for the quarter was $22.9 billion which was up 12% year-over-year. Nights and “experiences” booked were 132.6 million for the quarter which was up 9.5% year-over-year, but was expected to be 12% (sounds like a quality not quantity trend). 

But Bloomberg noted, “This represents the slowest rate of growth since 2020, suggesting that overall demand has normalized after an initial post-pandemic travel boom.” The Wall St. analysts all chimed in on the stock value but the real news was focused on the second-quarter forecasts—that business would be down before the peak summer travel season. And the bigger projection is that the post-lockdown and post-pandemic travel surge (often referred to as “revenge travel”) is slowing down. The travel industry as a whole is reflecting this anticipated slowdown.  

We can probably find some parallels to the micro-market of Mammoth. My information is empirical and based on my past 43 winters in Mammoth. I also live and work in the heart of the resort—few people have a more front-row seat to observe from. This past winter displayed both the impact of quality snow conditions and the fundamentals of winter tourism here. And how the IKON Pass now drives most of it. 

The end-of-the-year holiday period that decades ago was one big Christmas to New Year’s week crush is now a four week period of solid, steady business. The IKON Pass blackout during the prime holiday week has proven to be an effective part of spreading this business out. But it also drives the other weeks. It has become a very consistent four-week period from pre-Christmas week to MLK weekend in later January. And guests are paying premium rates. 

This year, marginal on-Mountain snow conditions impacted this period, but not to any extreme degree. The town was busy, but not crushing and quite manageable. The much-improved ski conditions of spring break made a significant difference and a major rebound in business. The spring break period has changed too, and there are no IKON blackouts. What used to be a very busy two-week period saddled to Easter weekend, is now another busy four-week period based on the vacation weeks of southern California school districts. Spring break of 2024 was very busy with high occupancy, but again, well spread out. In between is February’s President’s weekend and “ski week” which is now being saddled on the holiday weekend based on school vacations.

These ski and snowboard tourism patterns are new to Mammoth, and the IKON Pass is juicing it all. The Ski Area gets crowded during these periods and spreading the demand and crowds out is essential. This should all be good news to local STR owners looking for strong occupancies and rates during the winter season..

But if the post-pandemic travel surge is slowing, what might it mean for Mammoth? Historically it may mean very little. Mammoth’s drive-to location from a major demographic area has always been one of its key assets. Maybe more so in the IKON era. And I’ve been anticipating that the summer of 2024 may be similar to the summer of 2020 where election year chaos in the metropolitan areas of SoCal drove people to Mammoth. Probably not the “revenge travel” mayhem of the summer of 2020, but maybe substantial second homeowner usage and increased stays by Mammoth regulars. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, I checked-in with my soon-to-be canceled subscription with AirDNA and they are reporting some dismal numbers for Mammoth Lakes (I don’t know how Mammoth got on their shit list). They are now reporting Mammoth’s Market Score as 34 which is “Bad” and that occupancy rates are down 31% in the last year and annual revenue is down 26%. While the “investability“ score remains on the high side, the rental demand and revenue growth scores are down and there is “increased seasonality.” 

Maybe this is reflecting last summer’s compromised tourism season due to the big winter of 2023. I don’t know. If the current STR market in Mammoth is that depressed I would think there would be more STR “turn-key” units coming to the for sale market. So far we aren’t seeing that. But again, in Mammoth the owner usage may be more important than revenue. And the AirDNA data is fouled. For years the total number of Mammoth STR units in the data set was between 3,000 and 3,500. Today it is slightly above 600. I will be looking for a better STR data provider.

 

Based on the way the calendar lays out, this newsletter will return in five weeks. I’ll be around and working but in between I will be heading out for a couple of weeks on the warm Pacific. Look for a Q&A in the Memorial Day Weekend issue of The Sheet.

Thanks for reading!

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

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