Market Summary: September 30 – October 14
The Mammoth MLS is reporting 13 closings in the past two weeks in Mammoth Lakes ranging from a low of $96,000 to a high of $1,065,000. The sales data reports two (2) REO/bank owned property closings and two (2) short sale closings. For the period, more than half the closings were over the $300,000 mark.
At the period’s end there are 161 condominiums listed for sale, a decrease of three (3) over the previous newsletter. The inventory of single-family homes increased by two to 57. Residential lots listed for sale decreased by three to 40. Yes, a little movement in residential lots, actual properties going to escrow.
The total number of properties in “pending” (under contract) in Mammoth Lakes stayed even at 83. Of the 83 properties in “pending,” 25 are “contingent short sales” and 14 are in “back-up” status, or actively looking for back-up offers (as I’ve said before, these listing agents aren’t real confident with the strength or commitment of the buyers in the “back-up” transactions). The total number of pendings in the aggregate Mammoth MLS (which includes outlying areas) increased by two to 112.
Market Updates and News
The Mammoth real estate market continues to plug along. The inventory and sales numbers are consistent, but certainly on the low side. Condo and home inventories remain at an unusually low number for this time of year but they have been within a 5% range for months. Most buyers can’t find what they are looking for and when they do there is competition. Many sellers are still holding out for higher prices. The “promise” by the banks of faster short sales has become a false promise. The foreclosure pace has increased slightly, but many trustee’s sales continue to be postponed and postponed. And more and more trustee’s sales are postponed due to bankruptcy (and not the Town’s).
Now that the Town’s settlement with MLLA and Hot Creek has been announced the dirty work of carving out the money to pay for it is well on it’s way. The immediate proposed cuts were mainly to the police force. After years of hearing about extravagant police salaries, benefit packages and over employment, the Council apparently felt this was a good time and place to air it all out. The police are defending their value ad nauseam, the public is panicked for their safety, and on and on. It is quite a valuable public exercise. For further reading go to any or all of the local news outlets; plenty of letters written by local police officers and officials and from the public.
Meanwhile, the Council has recently put out a Survey to ask for the public’s opinion about the Restructuring Plan (new budget). The Survey can be found at the Town’s Website. Even though it is for “residents” I would think they would welcome input from anybody willing to give it, especially property owners or prospective property owners.
The way I read all of this is the Council is now looking for a way to raise or implement taxes that will be founded on perceived public needs and desires. A couple of ways already floated; a recreation tax of 1% on lift tickets and other recreation admissions, and /or a $150 annual parcel tax on every real estate parcel in Mammoth (there are approx. 12,000). Or a substantial tax on every airline ticket that flows through Mammoth airport (the anti-airport crowd likes that one).
And while all of these ideas are being tossed around there is a new and organized faction looking to overturn the Mammoth Lakes ordinance prohibiting nightly rentals in single family neighborhoods as part of the Restructuring Plan. An opposing group (with many long-time residents) has already formed and become vocal about opposing. Unlike Sacramento and Washington DC, at least Mammoth is talking about their problems and trying to do something about it. I’m working on a larger discussion of all of this, and how it may effect real estate, which will appear soon on my blogsite.
An REO sale of a 2 bedroom / 1 bath condo for $96,000. Why noteworthy? Well, I’ve babbled on about “crash pads” and many potential buyers think real estate values on the low-end of the condo market are too high, but here is a classic example. Most Mammoth property owners would have looked at this property and said “I wouldn’t let my dog stay in that condo.” Well, this is the bottom of the market, and it’s a hundred grand.
There are other sales of note, namely in Snowcreek. The values of the bigger units in Snowcreek Phase 5 are coming down while the value of the smaller units are stable or rising slightly. And recent sales show the values for the tradition 2 bedroom + loft townhomes in Snowcreek Phases 1 and 2 are quite stable.
But ultimately I’m seeing more of a mixed bag; some “good” buys and some not-so-good buys. There are buyers spending $1M (cash) for homes that really make me scratch my head. And there is a slow but increasing volume of foreign buyers in the market.
Other Real Estate News
The fall brings thoughts of skiing (and maybe fishing) but it also brings property taxes to the forefront. The Mono County Assessment Appeals Board will begin hearing appeals this month and they are scheduled through the spring. These are always enlightening and sometimes entertaining. The appeals process has been overloaded the past few years with the dramatic decline in real estate values. It has been an unprecedented time to be on the Board. But certainly worthwhile for a serious real estate broker. And even though we currently don’t have a sitting Assessor, the office is diligent about processing appeals and reviews.
And new property tax bills have come in the mail the last couple of weeks and I’ve been receiving calls from clients who believe their assessed values are too high. What to do? Or can you give me some sales data? First, the deadline to file an appeal is November 30, so get on it. Here is the necessary information to file an Application/Appeal. Give the real estate agent who sold you your property a call and ask them to send you three good sales “comps.” They can do this while you are on the phone with them via email right out of our local MLS. Odds are very good you will never have to attend a formal appeal to get your adjustment (quite frankly you don’t want to end up in a formal hearing). If you do speak with someone in the County offices be sure to keep track of who you talked to.
I have also been told that Mammoth property owners have received mailers from a local real estate agent offering appeals assistance in exchange for “half of the tax savings.” In my opinion you don’t need this service, it is actually quite easy. You just need to be accurate and patient. And as an aside, that real estate agent is the girlfriend of a long-time Mammoth appraiser and the current Mammoth mayor… lol.
And while we all anxiously wait for the first serious snowstorm, I noticed that it is not too late to purchase an MVP ski pass… only $729 until Oct. 22. That’s only $70 more than I paid a few months ago. That’s a good deal if you missed the spring purchase. So come buy a ski pass and a new Mammoth home… you aren’t getting any younger!
Thanks for reading!
** Closed sales data is compiled from in-house files and public records.