Mammoth Real Estate Sales Report, July 7, 2019

Huge Holiday Crowd Moves Out And A Busy Summer Is On!

Market Summary:   June 23 — July 7

The Mammoth Lakes MLS is reporting 12 real estate closings ranging from a low of $419,000 to a high of $1,600,000. This period last year there were 13 closing in Mammoth Lakes. Of the 12 escrow closings, all 12 were financeable properties and nine (9) were conventionally financed. There were two (2) residential closings in the $1.4-1.6M range. There were two (2) high-end Snowcreek closings. The 10-year Treasury settled just slightly lower at 2.048%. Lenders are reporting that 30-year rates are 3/4 point less than a year ago (which were already low).

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end the condominium inventory is up nine (9) to 118. There were 32 new condo listings in the period and one (1) is already in escrow. There was another surge of listings before the holiday weekend. This is all quite normal in the Mammoth market. There were several new Snowcreek 5 units listed (that has been a hot segment). There are now 35 condos listed under $400,0000. This time last year there were 99 condos on the Mammoth market. 

Single Family Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes rose by 15 to 55. The new inventory includes a couple of low-end home that are seriously compromised. And a nearly $6M home in Greyhawk that is quite spectacular. And some of the new listings we saw last summer. This time last year there were 48 homes on the market. 

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is up eight (8) to 64 at period’s end. Of the 64 properties in “pending,” there are 28 in “Active Under Contract” status (formerly “back-up”). The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) is up 15 to 94.  This time last year the respective numbers were 61 and 92. The Mammoth real estate market has a healthy appearance. And for the most part we are still selling at values around 80% of the 2006 peak.

Market Updates and News

The protracted 4th of July weekend was packed with visitors and second homeowners. Having the 4th fall on a Thursday is great for the tourism business. The parade was maybe the most well-attended ever. I’m not sure it could be much better. And the weather is finally cooperating. Mammoth will now flow into what should be a very busy summer. The ever growing and popular Food & Wine event is next weekend. In the past, the post 4th weekend was the massive Jazz Jubilee event. But much of that very fun-loving crowd has moved-on to the afterlife. I wonder if the Mammoth Margarita Festival (Aug. 9-10 this year) will ever fade? And is there a Cannabis Festival in our future? 

While the Lakes Basin still has significant patches and piles of snow, the weather was somewhat warmer and overall access was good for the holiday period. And there was a crowd. The lakes, creek and falls are all at, or near capacity or more. With the advent of electric and pedal-assist bicycles, traffic on the Lake Mary Road bikepath and in the Lakes Basin has grown by multiples. The access down into Red’s Meadow and Rainbow Falls is now open. And hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail are being warned to avoid certain stretches due to high run-off. Visible work has begun at Canyon Lodge and The Mill. The plan is to spend another $10M on the Canyon Lodge interior making major food and beverage and retail upgrades. At The Mill the plan is to add another 50 interior seats and other amenities. Clearly, the Alterra business plan is to sell all of the IKON Pass holders plenty of on-hill services including gourmet food and as much fancy coffee and alcohol as possible. They will be successful no doubt.   What is missing so far is any work on Chair 16/Canyon Express. The original word was that it would be replaced this summer. But no official word or work that I can find. This lift isn’t one that I ride very often, but I did this past winter a few times just to envision the potential new re-alignment and termination. The existing termination point is tight for such a heavily used chairlift. With the natural terrain and other chairlifts in close proximity the answer doesn’t appear obvious. Maybe they’ve decided it would be better to finally finish the Village and Eagle Gondola system and leave Canyon Express the way it is. One can only dream. 

After a major holiday period I am astonished at how many people are riding bikes without helmets. Especially people on “assisted” bikes going much faster than normal, and down hill. Mammoth Hospital’s ad campaign for the past two summers has been “Wear a helmet, we can fix everything else.”…So a little personal story. Ten years ago I spent a very coherent day in the ICU at the excellent Renown hospital in Reno. The patient in the room next to me was screaming wildly and incoherently at the nurses, and all through the night. It was bizarre to say the least. My attendant male nurse was a skier/rock climber type who lived in Truckee. He told me that the patient next door was a young man who fell off a mountain bike without a helmet and had severe brain damage. He told me that he would likely be in that type of state the rest of his life. God help him. Wear a helmet. 

The current administration in Washington DC often talks about the need to bring better broadband services into rural communities. How spoiled we are here in Mammoth! Back in 2013 we were excited to see fiber optic lines being laidinto Mammoth Lakes. Today, we pay plenty for the service but we have forgotten what it was like to not have it. Streaming anything? Forget it. Unreliable cell service? Constant. Upload a video? Plan your day around it. And on and on. The anticipated telecommuter migration has happened to some extent. It has made it easier for many local residents to work from home. But many second homeowners really value the level of internet service. Many doctors have told me they can spend “an extra day” because they can now review imaging while they are here in Mammoth. And that equates to more time on the slopes. Many other second homeowners just need to be connected at a high level. It has worked very well for this rural community. 

And my Real Estate Q&A “The Sprung Solution…” appears in this weekend’s edition of The Sheet. I’ve already had numerous email comments. Not everybody was out playing and partying all weekend. 

Noteworthy Sales

The interesting divergence between homes and condos continues. The sale of a smaller home on Sugar Pine Drive for $615,000. This home was owned back in the 1990’s by one of my now retired former associates. So I know the home fairly well. It is located on a quiet residential street between Eagle and the Village. The positioning of the structure gives it wonderful solar exposure. It is smaller (1500 square feet) with a 1-car garage but really livable and efficient space. The listing started much higher but this is what the market will bear. Remodeled condos of the same size and vintage will bring approximately the same market value.

Conversely,  a  2 bedroom / 2 bath corner unit in White Mountain Lodge that sits over a very noisy intersection closed for $627,000. And it is a long walk down the hallway from the elevator bays.

In total, three residential properties in the ~$700,000 range closed. This segment of the market was very quiet in the second half of 2018. Now it is active.


Favorite New Listing For The Period!

This is as close to the Village that you can get and be in the popular Knolls neighborhood. And there is Forest Service land in between. This is a 3 bedroom + den + formal dining room / 2.5 bath home with a 2-car garage. Corner lot. The floorplan is opposite of most Mammoth floorplans; the bedrooms are all located on the upper floor and the living, kitchen, den and dining room are all on the first floor. There are three separate entrances to the first floor. The home features forced air heating, and a gas fireplace and a freestanding wood burning stove. Excellent open parking and snow storage. This is a great opportunity for a buyer looking for a more traditional home in Mammoth.   
Listed at only $787,000

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Other Real Estate News

 I continue to be impressed with the work of the people at the Strong Townswebsite. Not all of it applies to Mammoth but much of what is discussed is dialog that needs to happen here in Mammoth Lakes. Especially for the younger generations that will increasingly be making the community decisions and haven’t spent decades looking at it. Strong Towns has even moved into some intriguing podcasts too. Here are some of the more recent basic concepts that are of interest and how they apply to Mammoth;

• Bulldozing historic buildings to replace them with “modern” structures is so naive. This is/was the Town planner’s solution for Main St. and Old Mammoth Road redevelopment. All while the existing property owners could barely afford to maintain what they already have. And the planners wanted understructure parking for all of these new buildings — that basically doubles the cost of construction. In the past 36 months Mammoth has experienced good snow and a solid flow of discretionary tourism dollars. And guess what? These properties have undergone greater occupancy, serious improvement and real business synergy. All with preserving some of the funk that may someday be (or is) Mammoth’s trademark.  In retrospect, tearing down all of the historic buildings in North Village led us to the current Village. The special events that occurred in that vicinity before the redevelopment were just as vibrant as the ones today. But the area sure does produce a lot more bed tax, and sales tax. And let’s not forget that all of it was completed during a major economic boom that we may never see again. The Specific Plan area is still very short the projected real estate development. It needs at least another 1,000 to 1,500 beds. We’ll see if the new interests can pull it off. 

• Small town governments need discipline. Resources are limited. There is no “build it and they will come” magic solution to success. It takes…

• “Incrementalism” is a concept that is coming back around. Basically, communities need to just take the next best smallest step. For instance, the Town can’t even execute on maintaining the Old Mammoth Road assessment district landscape and hardscape. They’re always trying to do something “amazing” (like red concrete sidewalks?). If they just did the next smallest step over a series of years it would just evolve. Get the small things right and you earn the right to do bigger things.

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Thanks for reading!

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