Mammoth Real Estate Sales Report, April 12, 2020

Mammoth Gets Good Snow and Everyone Is Told To Stay Home!

Market Summary:   March 29 — April 12

The Mammoth Lakes MLS is reporting seven (7) real estate closings for the period ranging from a low of $285,000 to a high of $717,500.  Of the seven (7) escrow closings, all seven were financeable properties and all seven were conventionally financed. The 10-year Treasury yield ended the period almost even at .729%. Now that the Federal Reserve is systematically bailing everything and everyone out, the mortgage market is settling down. One of my favorite loan officers told me that “rates are getting better day-by-day.” But he is referring to the 30-year conforming rate. From what I can see they are being quoted in the low 3% range. The vacation home market should be a little higher. It appears the 10-year and mortgage rates are back realigning to each other. Super low rates alone could help save the real estate market. The jumbo loan market (above $529,000 here in Mammoth) is a different story. Many lenders have temporarily suspended or severely restricted these loans. Some local agents seem panicked over this situation. But this too shall pass, or not. The Fed will likely see to it. I’m sure the lobbying is intense. Time and stability.

Condominium Inventory

At the period’s end the condominium inventory is down 13 to 81. Overall inventory is declining as owners are simply pulling their listed properties off the market. There was one (1) new condo listing during the period and it is a horrible property in many respects. Sorry, no one should buy it. One of the worst locations in all of Mammoth. What shall be interesting in the coming weeks and months are any new condo listings that are priced significantly below the most recent comparable sales or exhibiting strong seller motivation. Based on calls and emails, I can assure you that there are buyers looking for deals in the local real estate market.

Single Family Inventory

The inventory of single-family homes is down eight (8) to 32. That includes a few properties that fell out of escrow and are now back in the inventory. There were no “new” residential listings in the period. And plenty of cancellations.

Pending Transactions

The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes is down 12 to 37 at period’s end. But that includes 18 Obsidian Villas and Creekhouse townhomes under construction or to-be-built. I’m expecting a rash of cancellations in this segment of the market but they might not be accurately reported to keep these new developments in “support mode.”  Of the 37 properties in “pending,” there are 15 in “Active Under Contract” status (formerly “back-up”). But at this point it doesn’t matter, escrows with all contingencies removed are still canceling. Good luck fighting over deposits (I know of at least one such case).  The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) is down 11 to 53.

Market Updates and News

 I hit 34 years of full-time real estate sales in Mammoth Lakes this month. Where does time go? Amazingly, through all of the craziness including massive winter storm cycles, earthquakes of all sizes and swarms, recessions, successive drought years, Town “bankruptcy” and much more, I have never experienced a period of market stall and quiet like the present. It should be the perfect time to go on an extended vacation. But…..  

Mammoth Mountain is reporting over 10 feet of new snow since it closed on March 15. If it weren’t for the lockdown and the Ski Area closure, Mammoth would have been packed during this period with eager skiers and snowboarders. There were many ignoring the “avoid high risk activity” warning and making tracks on the Sherwins. The snowmobilers certainly weren’t staying at home. The new snow is certainly welcome. It will push the need for landscape irrigation and the fire danger back a month or so. That is a blessing. Prior to the most recent storms, 2020 was being reported as one of the Top 10 Worst snowpacks in California (recorded) history.  

Mammoth Hospital continues to echo the previous calls by the Mono County Health Dept. and Mammoth Lakes Tourism (MLT) for visitors and second homeowners to stay away. There are some that appear to be ignoring this, but very few. Many local residents are getting testy over the situation with some calling for mandatory resident checks at the bottom of Hwy. 203.  Others are stating that the non-cooperative second homeowners “will be remembered.” I see the police cruising around. I think they are hoping it doesn’t turn violent. I’ve never seen Mammoth so territorial, but maybe for good reason. All told, the people of Mammoth have done a great job staying home, especially considering how outdoor oriented they are.   

Meanwhile, the official virus count for Mono County has remained rather stable at 19-21 the past week. At one point the Hospital stated they had “not one inpatient” at the time. But the local health care professionals are saying the next two weeks are critical here. Mammoth has had one death from the virus, a popular long-time local resident who immigrated from Chile. He was likely infected delivering pizzas. Very sad. I wonder how many people he infected?  

I posted a Mammoth Real Estate Q&A last week on how all of this may impact the short term rental condos and business in Mammoth Lakes. I may have been overly optimistic for the upcoming summer business season. But we’ll just have to see. The summer’s most popular event, Bluesapalooza, has been canceled for this summer. The incredibly popular Mule Days (Bishop, Memorial Day Weekend) has also been canceled. There are now rumors many of the campgrounds and trails will not be opened (based on the fire danger this could be a good thing). And Mammoth Mountain’s summer facilities may be shuttered for the whole summer. Incredibly, the area still has plenty to offer. Bishop golf course was reported to be rather packed this last week. Mammoth air service may be canceled for the winter of 20-21.  

This weekend’s issue The Sheet explored what the Town should be doing in expectation of the formidable drop in TOT revenues (the short term rental ban has been extended to June 22). Thankfully the town has a significant stash of cash in the “rainy day” fund and other reserves. Some of that was pledged to the Ice Rink/Rec Center project. That may be put on hold. It may not survive this new era of social distancing either. Maybe an outdoor rink will make more sense for the future. The Town also has experience in “cutting back” from the bankruptcy period earlier in this decade. The Town crews have been out filling potholes in the past two weeks.   

Alterra announced they are making a 50% reduction in the capital expenditure programs that were slated for this summer. No word yet on how this will affect the projects slated for Mammoth Mountain including new six-pack chairs at 1 and 16, expansion of snowmaking and the addition at The Mill.   During the period the ski town of Telluride in Colorado announced that the whole town was going to be tested for the virus. Like Mammoth, it is basically like a cul-de-sac so it seems feasible. There was strong community buy-in. But the testing program was cancelled on Tuesday because the the test provider simply couldn’t process the tests. There were approximately 6,000 tests taken but less than one-third have been processed. The town was even accused of making it a “publicity stunt”. Now it appears the town of Jackson (Jackson Hole) in Wyoming will attempt to do a town-wide testing.  

On the Airbnb side, the company petitioned the country of Canada for a bailout including employment benefits for Airbnb hosts, deferred bed taxes and deferred income taxes. The Parliament gave an adamant “No”….  And AirDNA’s new marketing is “Data to set you apart. Insights to keep you ahead”. They are releasing “forward looking data” that can give hosts the tools for success despite decreasing demand. AirDNA’s data over the next year shall be enlightening to see how the industry rebounds.  

As I sit at my desk penning this newsletter I see a variety of people out walking, jogging and riding bikes in the sunshine. Most do not have masks of any sort. Some are pushing baby strollers with extra kids in tow. And many are not local residents. People are clearly getting restless. This summer will be fascinating, hopefully for the good. I’m still betting it will be busy here in Mammoth. Like I said in my Q&A, Mammoth is about clean air and open space, and affordability, and can be easily accessed (or departed) via private car. These may be very important criteria for travelers in the immediate future. Hopefully everyone can stay healthy. And sane.

Noteworthy Sales

A top floor 1-bedroom at Aspen Creek closed for $285,000. These are nice units because they have vaulted ceilings and feel spacious. But they have almost no windows and this unit has no view. It has been on-and-off the market for years. It also has a ~$45,000 special assessment coming for siding, windows, etc..   

One of the last residential properties that had been on the market since last summer finally closed $717,500. This was a long-time local resident’s home located in the Knolls subdivision. They are relocating  to Montana. Good timing.

Favorite New Listing for the Period

Who would have ever guessed that there would only be one (1) new listing in the period and it wasn’t even worth discussing?? Bizarre. So how do I decide on the bi-weekly favorite? Obviously, I like promoting my own listings. Even though I love many aspects of the business, I still like earning a commission check. But when not self promoting, I select new listings that fundamentally make sense in the market; their locations, floorplans, features, condition, etc.. They are properties that also have good resale potential. Some are properties where I have a “blink” moment — you walk in and just know it is a great property. Sometimes selected properties sell before I can even place them here. Others sell shortly thereafter. I see it as a great opportunity to promote some properties and equally educate buyers and sellers about the market. Sometimes that is important…..

Listed for a song…

Other Real Estate News

As special events are being canceled and potential closures of public lands are being discussed, the question is; How should Mammoth participate in the critical re-opening of the economy and to our visitors? The tourism industry is reeling and the business people want to get back to work. But just watching Old Mammoth Road tells me non-residents want to be here, even though they are being told not to be here. And they are out-and-about. How are we going to balance protecting local residents and the local economy and the potential for an increased volume of visitors? It already appears we can’t shut them out. Is everybody going to be required to wear masks (most aren’t right now)? The public policy logistics, even on our small scale, seem impossible.    

With the current short term rental ban extended to June 22, there is sound messaging recognizing that the signifiant demand won’t occur until then. This is Mammoth’s typical tourism cycle. This basically coincides with the Mammoth Motocross which is the “start” event of summer. So far there is no notice of cancellation. The Mountain is probably trying to be hopeful. But what happens after June 22? Or will that be extended? What about the 4th of July parade? And all of the events that follow? Will Mammoth Lakes Tourism decide to turn the Stay at Home campaign into the Stay at Mammoth campaign?? I could see it. They have a history of driving excessive tourism into Mammoth.     

I appreciate this weekend’s edition of The Sheet for engaging the public officials of the past and present into this conversation. Otherwise they may bury their heads in the sand. Especially our Town Council. Like the rest of the country, this is a critical time to not only save lives but save the economy. But Mammoth could be inundated with visitors from all over in the coming months. There is no time for public policy arrogance. Pet projects will be shelved. This is dialog that needs to continue for a long time. I’m sure I’ll be part of it. And I’ll be reporting on it.     

Thanks for reading!  Stay home and stay healthy!    

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