About Paul Oster

I provide one-on-one service helping people make great real estate decisions.

Knowledge is power, and knowledge about the local real estate industry goes a long way. My clients appreciate my decades of experience in the industry, breadth of local knowledge, and ability to counsel them on a variety of real estate-related issues that go beyond just the home purchase or sale.

As a second generation real estate broker in California, I learned the fundamentals of real estate at an early age. But real estate is a never ending subject of study. Through this blog, I enjoy sharing the study with you so you can make great real estate decisions and investments.

I have an “old school” approach to real estate and tell it like it is.

Paul Oster

Moving to Mammoth

I moved to Mammoth Lakes in 1981 as a 22-year-old graduate from UCLA. I had worked as the head waiter at the Charthouse in Marina del Ray, and their newest restaurant was opening in Mammoth.

It was the perfect opportunity for someone who had battled and beat lymphatic cancer in college and wasn’t quite ready for the “real world.” I was lucky to get the job, and I’ve called Mammoth Lakes home ever since.

A long real estate history

Living in Mammoth in the 1980s as a 20-something was wild, but I had a gnawing drive to create something more out of my Mammoth life. I decided to follow in my father’s footsteps and get into real estate brokerage.

I worked for several years at a long-standing Main Street brokerage before attending a RE/MAX management training in Denver, CO in 1990 and becoming a franchisee.

In the 1990s and 2000s, I built, owned and managed one of the largest real estate brokerages in Mammoth Lakes, and I supervised dozens of brokers and agents and thousands of real estate transactions. At the peak of the last real estate boom, my company regularly competed for #1 in Mammoth sales.

While building and managing the company, I remained an actively-selling broker who represented both buyers and sellers of Mammoth area real estate. My father warned me never to stop working with buyers and sellers.

Throughout my real estate career, I’ve known some of the oldest, best and most experienced brokers in Mammoth Lakes and learned a lot from them. I had several agents on the early Intrawest sales team that primed and rode the boom of the 2000s. My cumulative experience and knowledge over the years proves invaluable to buyers and sellers.

Since 2008, I’ve been very active in the REO/foreclosure business and have represented numerous banks and servicing companies.

For many years I’ve been considered “a broker’s broker.” My real estate style is one of candid realism mixed with a hint of contrarian.

I often remind myself of what Ben Franklin said, “Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.”

Serving in public office

My partial degree in public administration drove me to appointed public office — I would never want to campaign for elected office. I have served as a public official in Mammoth Lakes and Mono County for more than 25 years.

My experience as a Planning Commissioner for the Town of Mammoth Lakes from 1990-1998 gave me unmatched knowledge of the resort planning process. This is where all the groundwork was laid for the Mammoth of today.

The 1990s were the most intense period of planning in Mammoth’s history. Mammoth Lakes wanted to grow from a newly incorporated small town to a world class destination resort.

Here are a few of the projects I was involved with during my term as Planning Commissioner:

  • The North Village Specific Plan (and EIRs)
  • Extensive public hearings to devise & approve the town’s sign ordinance
  • The Lodestar (Sierra Star) Master Plan (and EIR)
  • Hearings & final approvals for Sierra Star Golf Course
  • The town’s first real General Plan and EIR
  • The Bluffs plan and EIRs & approval of the Bluffs Assessment District
  • The Eagle Base Specific Plan and downzoning of the Juniper Springs property (and EIRs)
  • Hearings & approvals for Juniper Springs Lodge, the first condo-hotel property in Mammoth Lakes
  • Extensive hearings on the Old Mammoth Road redevelopment and assessment district (the first of many)
  • The Airport Master Plan (and EIR)
  • The Mammoth Bikeway Plan (and EIR)
  • The Mammoth Lakes Affordable Housing Plan (and EIR)
  • Public hearings & approval of Mammoth’s original wood stove ordinance
  • Other subdivisions/EIRs including Juniper Ridge, Starwood and Snowcreek Phase 5
  • The original College Master Plan
  • The original Visitor’s Center Plan

During my time on the Planning Commission, I also served on the board (and was chair) of the Mono County Arts Council. This began the process of educating Mammoth locals and visitors about public art. In 1995, we captured the Chamber Music of America grant that brought the Felici Trio to Mammoth Lakes.

Property taxation experience

I’ve been on the Mono County Property Tax Appeals board since 2004 and currently serve as the chair. This experience has given me great insight into the California property tax rules and laws and the Assessor’s operations.

The rise and fall (and rise again) of property values in the past 17 years has taught me a lot about California property taxation. In my time on this board, I’ve worked with five different Tax Assessors.

Hearing the property tax appeals from throughout the county gives me additional insight into the real estate of the county.

The decline in values from 2008 to 2015 brought forward many appeals, reassessments and “Prop. 8 reductions.” The appeals range from alfalfa fields in north county to the Starwood acquisition of Mammoth Mountain in 2005.

One very rewarding side benefit is the ability it’s given me to counsel my clients through the appeals process and, in turn, save them thousands of dollars in property tax expenses.

What I’m up to today

Today I prefer a smaller company that utilizes my cumulative experience and knowledge and allows me to focus my work on one-on-one interactions with Mammoth Lakes home buyers and sellers, so my RE/MAX office still exists but in a much smaller capacity.

I’m trying to re-balance from 30 years of being an 80-hours-per-week workaholic.

I still work full-time but try to spend more time outdoors in the Sierra, especially doing my favorite activities, skiing and mountain biking. I’ve always believed that regular skiing on Mammoth Mountain is critical to knowing this community.

In the future, I may do more hiking and fly fishing. My escape from Mammoth is being on the warm Pacific Ocean chasing large tuna and wahoo.

I recently moved my office to a more streamlined space and have established a modern cafe-style office. My primary passion remains helping kind people find and design their perfect piece of the Mammoth dream.

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