Mammoth Real Estate Sales Report – June 9, 2024

Weather Turns Beautiful, Mammoth Prepares For A Real Summer!

Market Summary –   May 26  to June 9 

The Mammoth Lakes MLS is reporting 19 real estate closings for the period ranging from a low of $355,000 to a high of $2,340,000. Of the 19 closings, 15 were financeable properties and eight (8) were closed with financing. The previously mentioned 3 bedroom / 3 bath condo hotel unit in the Village closed and was the high sale for the period. The sale closed $441,000 over asking price and at $1,382 per square foot—another new record high in the Mammoth market. The previous high for a Village 3/3 was $1,850,000 in 2006, but the unit was 200 square feet larger. The more recent 3/3 high was $1,499,000, closing nine (9) months ago. There were two (2) closings at Sunstone of basic 2/2 condo hotel units and both closed for over $1,000 psf. There were two (2) 1970s vintage, but remodeled, condos that closed over asking price.       
 
The 10-year Treasury yield ended almost even at the end of the period at 4.43%, but as I mentioned in the last issue, significant changes weren’t expected in the period. Conventional mortgage rates are being quoted in the low 7% range. The various pundits continue to predict both higher and lower rates, but for now it all seems pretty “range bound” and buyers who are expecting lower rates are increasingly frustrated. This time last year the 10-year was at 3.769% and mortgage rates were being quoted right at 7%.
 

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end the condominium inventory is up ten to 65. Some welcome new inventory through the spectrum, including some attractive Snowcreek properties. There are three (3) new Westin properties on the market. Maybe there is some increased normalcy returning to the market? There were 19 new condo listings in the period and one (1) has already gone to escrow. What condos also went to contract/escrow in period? They include units at Bigwood, Mountainback, The Summit and Snowcreek 5. This time last year there were 40 condos on the market.
 

Single-Family Home Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes is even at 17. There are now six (6) homes listed under $1M. One new Slopes listing has had ~1,000 days on market in the past few years. It will be of interesting to see if it sells this summer. This time last year there were 16 homes on the market. There were two (2) vacant lot sales in the period that were previously marketed with new home construction, “spec” homes. They both sold for higher amounts than they sold for just a couple years ago.
 

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is down eight (8) to 46 at period’s end. The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) is down five (5) to 73. This time last year there were 42 and 62 respectively. I’m usually on vacation during this period on the calendar and I was reminded why it is a good time to be gone—it is quiet in Mammoth and the business lulls a bit. People are generally tied up with graduations and weddings. But the weather and lack of crowds made it a great time to be here, and there was plenty of work to do. I’m expecting a busy summer.
 

Market Updates and News

Everyone is glad to see Mammoth is having summer this year even though it isn’t even summer on the calendar yet. Recent temperatures have been in the mid-to-high 70s. The Mammoth Motocross is slated to begin June 21 and run through the 30th. This event is the real start to summer. Between now and then will be a great time to be in Mammoth. And based on recent observations, this will be an entertaining summer to watch people of all ages do stupid things on electric bikes.

Both golf courses are now open. Sierra Star looks great and Snowcreek looks pretty good although one player described most of Snowcreek “like playing on the moon.” There is apparent symbiosis between the two courses with Sierra Star crews helping out at Snowcreek. And as of this week they were advertising in The Sheet together (you can play Snowcreek this coming week; “$35 to play all day”). Maybe Alterra could buy the Snowcreek course?

The Snowcreek Phase 7/Creekhouse HOA along with the “Mammoth Lakes Coalition for Responsible Planning, LLC” have filed a lawsuit against the Town, the Fire District, and the Planning Commission over the cell tower approval. Not surprising. Stay tuned. Maybe now the proponent can consider an alternative location. 

The new Town Civic Center is being budgeted at over $29M (up from $26M) including a $2M “contingency fund” for unforeseen expenses. Based on the most recent Town projects and “cost overruns”, the $2M might be insufficient?

According to the lead partner at the Mammoth Mall, re-construction and renovation of the property should start this next week. The remodel will include a new (and large) two story brewery/restaurant. The new anchor tenant will be a popular brewery/restaurant brand currently operating in Truckee. The plan includes a large outdoor seating area aligned with Old Mammoth Road. The Good Life Cafe will also gain a second story outdoor seating area above the remaining covered parking at the rear of the property.

During last week’s joint meeting between the Town Council and Mammoth Lakes Tourism (MLT), MLT expressed a strong, renewed marketing outreach to China. One Council member recommended that MLT should proceed cautiously because one of the current presidential candidate’s policy would be to slap heavy tariffs on China if he is elected. But there was no discussion or recommendation if China were to invade Taiwan?

And as part the coming changes from the NAR settlement, the Mammoth MLS now offers sellers an “opt-out” selection from major real estate websites like Zillow, Homes.com, Realtor.com, etc.. I have always believed sellers should desire maximum exposure for their properties. But this new opt-out option may be the start of something bigger—MLSs canceling their IDX (internet data exchange) agreements with these sites. The “win” that many consumer groups celebrated over the NAR settlement may have unintended consequences (again). For now I recommend sellers to opt-in, but sometime in the future they may not have an option at all. 

Noteworthy Sales 

Besides the impressive condo hotel sales mentioned above, there were a total of four (4) vacant lots sales in the period. There seems to be continued demand for people who want to build their own homes in Mammoth. In the meantime, vacant lots become more scarce. The good news is that it also appears that there are new contractors in the area filling up the void caused by retirements and the strong demand. 

Favorite New Listing For The Period

This is the historic “Fobes 40” Motel property and today it is a one-of-a-kind development opportunity in the eastern high Sierra. This beautiful 36 acre parcel is 20 minutes from Mammoth and out of the significant snow zone. The zoning can allow for commercial and residential development; this could be an estate/ranch property unlike any other in the region, or maybe a small subdivision up to 13 lots, or maybe a mobile home park? Or? Fantastic sun, views and accessibility. Located just up from Tom’s Place and adjacent to the Aspen Springs Ranch subdivision. Check out the video tour.  

Listed at $4,250,000

Other Real Estate News

This last week I was reviewing some local condo project/HOA documents (Minutes and financials, etc.) for some of my buyers who are in escrow. The HOA isn’t one I have strong familiarity with (the units don’t turnover very often). I was reading how they have dealt with their issues in the last year arising from the big winter of 2023. It is interesting how the record winter impacted different HOAs and property owners in so many different ways. So let’s look at some of the impacts a year later.

The winter of 2023 was definitely a “stress test” on Mammoth.There was also a declared state of emergency. The impacts of it all are still lingering, but overall it is rapidly becoming a distant memory. The “average” winter of 2024 helped make it so, despite all of the rumors that it would be repeat of the previous winter.

The prolonged mild weather at the end of 2023 allowed many repairs to be completed in various condo projects, homes and commercial projects. A good deal of the uncompleted repairs are being finished this spring and summer. The majority of repairs were crushed decks and stairs, damaged roof eaves and roof components, and various episodes of water intrusion. One of the interesting vulnerabilities was, and not really seen so prolifically before, exterior light fixtures. The snow pack piled so high and became so dense that it eventually crushed or ripped the fixtures off the walls as it melted-out.

Almost every Mammoth HOA has had special “snow” assessments. The snow removal costs simply went parabolic—roofs, trucking and excessive man hours. HOA boards had to make decisions to replenish funds taken from either operating or reserve funds. These special assessments ranged from $2,000 to $12,000 per unit. Most were spread out several months to minimize the financial impact to owners. These assessments are now paid, and these assessments may have actually caused some owners to sell. 

Besides the actual physical plant repairs, many HOAs and other property owners are rethinking various aspects of their projects including their snow removal schemes. Labor costs (including the required insurance and bonding) have soared so attempting to reduce the onsite labor cost is becoming an important strategy. This includes snow removal and landscape. In the past 15 years many condo projects have moved to utilizing Bobcat/skid steer equipment for an increasing amount of snow management (and today almost all single-family driveway snow removal is completed with this equipment). This trend has accelerated after the winter of 2023. 

A major expense of the big winter was roof shoveling. It is labor intensive and even more expensive on a per hour basis. It is a necessary evil to protect buildings from having structural damage. Local property managers are acutely aware of, and almost paranoid about, excessive roof snow loads on their client’s properties. Any repairs in this area can be extremely expensive with prolonged time delays (re-engineering). Mammoth’s structures are engineered and built to meet snowload and seismic requirements, but too much is too much. Just think about how the older properties in town have survived the major winters of the past. But there aren’t any easy solutions for too much snow on a property’s roof other than getting bodies up there to remove it. A re-roof project should always consider protecting from heavy snow loads, but the sheer weight of the snow is impossible to mitigate. The heaviest of winters can surely bust the snow removal budget. It has proven to be difficult to plan and budget for.

And then there is the subject of insurance.The majority of HOA properties in Mammoth made insurance claims as a result of the winter of 2023. But so far, these claims haven’t exacerbated the existing insurance crisis. In theory, the “state of emergency” prevents the insurance companies from using these claims in a derogatory fashion. But we’ll see. Recent policy renewals are coming in higher, but not in multiples. I am aware of policy cancellations of single-family and multi-family properties. Some of these canceled owners are being given up to 12 months of notice. Meanwhile, various projects around town continue to struggle with major increases in their insurance premiums. This started prior to the winter of 2023 and includes some of the modern built properties.         

The winter of 2023 also drove some owners straight out of town. Other single-family owners decided they were more comfortable owning a condo with better management coverage. We saw most of this movement in the second half of 2023 and today it is down to a trickle of the current real estate market. The winter of 2023 also has some old-timers (both permanent residents and second homeowners) considering “retirement” moves. Another big winter would have done it.

Besides the impacts to local real estate, the one really noticeable byproduct of the winter of 2023 is seen in the regional lakes, both north and south. The lakes to the north are as full as anyone can remember. It is almost worth the drive to see how full Grant Lake is, and Mono Lake, and even Topaz. Drivers from the south see it at Owens Dry Lake, which is half full. Most of the dust mitigation measures created over the last decade are now underwater. And in the last week, Crowley Lake has rarely looked so good. 

And lastly, I’ve searched around various FEMA related websites. I’ve tried to see if anyone (locally) really got any FEMA money. There were local property owners who were applying. FEMA was here for months (with two armed guards at the door). Many of us decided they were basically on vacation here. The information I can find is that they paid out $71 million for the “CA winter storm” state of emergency. But unlike the PPP loans, there is no individual or businesses identified receiving payouts. It appears most of the money went to State and local government agencies, mostly for road and infrastructure repairs. 

 

Thanks for reading!

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

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