Mammoth Real Estate Sales Report January 31, 2016

Market Summary: January 17 – January 31

The Mammoth MLS is reporting 13 real estate closings in Mammoth Lakes for the two week period ranging from a low of $100,000 to a high of $1,395,000. Of the 13 closings, only nine (9) were financeable properties and seven (7) were financed. The 13 closings were an unusual mix of vacant land (including a rare multi-unit lot), more mid-range condos and one home (the high) in Gray Bear. There were no REO/bank owned property closings and no short sale closings reported. This period last year reported 15 closings.

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end the condominium inventory is up again by five (5) to 142. Again, very unusual to see the condo inventory rising in January. There were 16 bonafide new condo listings in the period. But this period last year there were 155 condos on the market.

Single Family Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes is up two (2) to 53. Much of the same but a handful of price reductions. A year ago there were 52 homes on the market. Twelve of the homes currently on the market were on the market this period a year ago.

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is down one (1) to 45 at period’s end. Of the 45 properties in “pending,” two (2) are “contingent short sale” and 25 are in “back-up” status. This time last year there were 58 properties under contract in Mannish Lakes. The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) is up one (1) for the period to 62, last year 78.

Market Updates and News

The front page article in last week’s issue of The Sheet reported that Mammoth businesses were experiencing phenomenal levels of business the past 45 days. I hear it and see it everywhere I go. The major retailers with decades of experience are especially impressed. But the reservation people are reporting very high occupancy levels too. I can attest that the inquiries for real estate are very high for this time of year. And every afternoon I am greatly entertained as I get to watch the rush for happy hour seats at the Mammoth Tavern. This marks my 35th January living in Mammoth and it sure seemed like the busiest ever.

More Storms, Great Skiing And Mammoth Reports a Very Busy January!!

The ski conditions are excellent but have been all over he board the past two weeks; from storms to fresh powder to an almost spring-like day last Thursday. This weekend’s “atmospheric river” made for low visibility skiing but will cover even more terrain and will certainly add more water content to the Sierra range. The next week is forecasted to be sunny so another crowd may build. Super Bowl weekend is traditionally light on tourism but the ski condition and weather should be excellent. We’ll see.

Mammoth Mountain is sure sending mixed messages. They mailed and distributed thousands of their new “Mammoth” Magazine this past week. Included is a full page ad for Sierra Star golf course. The banner reads “Elevate Your Game.” The lower banner states “Book your tee time today.” Just when Mammoth CEO Rusty Gregory has announced he wants to close the course because he is tired of losing a few hundred thousand dollars a year.

The other sad aspect of the nice magazine is that it was produced in Boulder, CO. Quite frankly, the graphic design and layout isn’t the same quality as many of Mammoth’s publication produced by local artist and writers. It doesn’t come close to the beautiful publications produced for many years by the Mammoth Times and Wally Hofmann and Laura Patterson.

The Ski Area also announced (via press release) the “Mammoth SKYBOX”…..a “new private premier club created especially to meet the needs of today’s business leadership to prioritize authentic experiences and an outdoor lifestyle.” The is something brand new. But Sierra Star is being promoted as part of the package. We’ll be watching this evolve. Can’t wait to see who runs this show……the press release does say they will be providing heli-skiing. The problem; elitism never seems to go over too well in Mammoth.

The first official public workshop for the new ice rink facility re-location to Mammoth Creek Park West was held last Friday. It is now the “MUF” or multi-use facility. The proponents are wild dead-set about having a grand opening for this facility on Halloween 2017. But this is just the start of what could be a long environmental process. The Town staff presented three site plans that weren’t much different. And it is clear from their “limitations” that know they have a limited budget. The plans include 125 parking spaces.

There are many issues to mitigate with this plan, maybe too many. Noise is the big one. And the cost to mitigate could become overwhelming. They appear to be trying to cram too much on a small space. And with old-time residential neighbors right on the property line, the NIMBYS will come out in force.

There are some funny things already; the ice skaters (hockey players) are emphatic they want to be able “take in the view” while on the ice. So they want an openness to the facility and to take in the mountain views. I thought they were suppose to watch the puck, and the other players and the goal. What happened to “keep your eye on the goal.” They appear to want to play hockey and sightsee at the same time. At least they haven’t asked for free beer yet.

In “brainstorming” the project two additional items were put on the wish list; a dog park and tennis courts. I love absurdities. Mammoth is one giant dog park, just look around. We need a dedicated dog park?? And Mammoth has municipal tennis courts and they are rarely played on. And many of the 1970’s condo projects have tennis courts. They are best used for snow storage….

Last January the U.S. Grand Prix freestyle ski and snowboard event was totally stormed out and canceled. Last weekend it almost was. The participants were here training that whole week but then the weekend storm rolled in. They completed the event on Sunday. It aired on national television yesterday and Mammoth looked gorgeous with plenty of fresh snow.

Noteworthy Sales

Some vacant land sales and closings which is almost bizarre considering the time of year and that they are buried in snow. The residential lot at 511 Canyon Blvd. finally sold for $100,000 even. This lot had been on the market for years with different agents. It is a north facing and up sloping lot on a busy street in winter. I’m sure the buyer thinks they got a steal. But when they have to pay an extra $100K plus for engineering and retaining walls and massive foundations it won’t make much sense. And once the home is all completed there won’t be any place to put the snow from the driveway because the lot goes upward and is already piled in snow. And then the ice…

Speaking of Canyon Blvd., I was driving down it last last week and the Town road crews were working feverishly to clear the storm drains of ice because the run off coming down the street was flowing out into the street (like it has for decades). The problem is that flow eventually freezes and turns into big sheets of ice. This has been going on for years. But the Town just replaced all of the storm drains and road grade just two summer ago. They just learned that they still have to clear the storm drains when the weather warms. Water, ice and freezing are dynamic problems in this environment. So much for “solving” the problem.

The last (and probably worst) of the ~$600K home that were on the market all last summer closed for $590,000.

I’m always trying to figure out the value of a view. A 4 bedrooms unit in phase II of 1849 closed for $610,000. Marginal unit (needing remodeling) with a fantastic view. In this case the buyer paid close to $200K for the view.

Two Snowcreek units closed at solid prices for the sellers.

Other Real Estate News

Potential sellers of Mammoth real estate often say they are “interviewing” agents. I’ve been interviewed a number of times in the last couple of months. But I find many sellers don’t even know what the right interview questions are. So I try to help them.

Technology has changed some of the critical aspects of listing property. The local MLS is the direct link to almost all of the websites where the property will be seen. That includes all of the local brokers and agents sites, sites like Realtor.com or REMAX.com and all sorts of new websites that are stripping off information in legal and illegal ways (everybody wants a piece of the real estate marketing action). And in Mammoth, the local MLS does not direct-feed to Zillow, so local agents need to be sure to input their properties to Zillow.

The photos, virtual tour and remarks need absolute attention. So many agents think a few marginal photos shot with their cell phone will suffice. It won’t. Consumers just skip past those listings. And I can tell you first-hand that digital photography can make even junky properties look good. If the agent isn’t uploading a large set of quality photos then they should be fired. Next comes a video virtual tour. Consumers love them regardless of their quality. But the key is they can freeze the video at any time and look at details. And it gives the “flow” of the property like still photography can’t.

Next are the “remarks.” These are the written comments about the property that ride with the photos and video to all of the websites that describes the property. Many agents think a couple of sentences works (more laziness)…..Whether it is detail description or flowery prose it is critical to describe what the photos and video don’t.

Another important listing feature here in Mammoth deals with access. There are some agents in Mammoth that don’t even own lockboxes. They “cost too much.” But modern agents use computerized lockboxes that record who accessed the property and when. There are times when agents need permission to access the property, but making a selling agent drive across town and go through a drill to get a key is unacceptable (I did this twice last week). That isn’t providing the seller the best opportunity to have the property shown. Seller’s have little knowledge about how important that is. Especially in an impulsive real estate market like Mammoth.

Another interview question; do you answer your phone? or do you call agents back to answer their questions? It is amazing how deals can come together when agents actually talk to each other.

And another good one; how good (or experienced) are you at negotiation? ….that’s a long discussion, one for another day.

Thanks for reading!

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