Q: We were in Mammoth throughout the holiday period therefore we looked at some condos available for sale. We came away together with the impression that Mammoth property is a great value today. We think time of drought suppressed values. What is your opinion?
A: Mammoth condos are always a good value when the ski conditions are great. With snow comes enthusiasm. Alumni of the Intrawest sales teams will unquestionably recall the phrase “Selling will be the transfer of enthusiasm.” So snow equals enthusiasm equals the selling of real estate property. But is Mammoth real estate a great value with or without snow?
We can talk all about proposed developments, and who should own the Ski Area, increased air service and fancier ice rinks all we wish. But quality snowpack to perform and recreate on will be the crème de la crème supporting the value of local real-estate. Especially since progressively more home owners are attempting to maximize nightly rental income as well as the winter readers are the “money” inside the equation. In that respect the past four drought winters have negatively impacted values.
Value is certainly subjective and subjected to multiple factors. Let’s take a look at other important dynamics affecting Mammoth’s real estate property “value.”
The current drought period also has coincided with all the peak and eventual decline in the distressed property market. Foreclosures and short sales impacted real estate values within Mammoth as much as any place in the nation. Foreclosures peaked within the 2011-12 timeframe and short sales peaked shortly thereafter (and the way the federal government intervened in all of that can be another column). The best “deals” (lowest prices) were to be found in this period. So the bottom of this past market cycle really occurred along with the beginning of the drought.
Additionally there is a large faction of mammoth lake homes for sale who purchased or refinanced within the mid-2000s who have been looking to liquidate but can’t afford the loss of their good credit standing. On their behalf a foreclosure or short sale is out-of-the-question. It is the nature with this market. Many have watched real-estate values nudge upward before couple of years and they are deciding to sell. Several of these sellers actually have to place money in to the purchase to seal the escrow. Some take substantial loses (plus some are offsetting those loses with gains with their other investment areas).
But the winding down of the distressed property cycle combined with the drought winters created an equilibrium in the market. We have seen enough supply and enough demand to keep selling prices inside a stable range. We have seen no gigantic push upward like a lot of other markets in California. So when usual in Mammoth, there are numerous segments of your market which may have moved differently.
One of the market comparisons I like to make is what a property sold for from the mid-2000s peak market era compared to a recent sale. I only prefer to use exact same properties for that comparisons because there could be so many minute but critical variables. When closed sales come throughout the MLS I find out when the property sold in the 2004-2007 timeframe. I try to see if you can find any significant improvements that were done to your property that could impact the calculation.
A lot of the sales that get caught in this comparison study demonstrate that the Mammoth market is selling at 60 to 70 % from the selling prices in the mid-2000s. And again there are many variables. The Intrawest developed and sold properties from that era tend to have lower percentages (meaning they typically sold for higher market prices several years ago). The best recent sale that I recall was 53%. With the very lowest in the market some were below 40% of their mid-2000 price level (most were foreclosure/REO properties). In the opposite side there are many Mammoth properties which can be selling slightly over 70% of the they sold for from the peak period. Although the majority are in the 60 to 70% range.
You could surmise with this how the values have only rebounded modestly. And possibly the drought winters had plenty with regards to it.
The drought winters also delayed a number of the Ski Area’s plans for development and expansion. The current ownership seems destined to spend some money for capital improvements with money they realize as profits as an alternative to utilize money they could borrow. So these improvements are already postponed by the drought winters. These Ski Area improvement projects always tend to create some property buzz (enthusiasm) and some increased demand. Investors always follow investors and investment.
One thing that strikes me as odd is that the Ski Area’s ownership owns a substantial area of the remaining developable real-estate in Mammoth nevertheless they see no reason at all to adopt just a little risk to stimulate the local values. But exactly what do I understand? Sometimes it would appear that the environmentalists do run the show in Mammoth. The older I have the better I think which might be that is a a valuable thing.
And lately it appears the the Ski Area’s owners have realized the “good value” of obtaining the Town’s ice rink aligned with all of their real-estate. We’ll have to see.
Another way of assessing regardless of if the local property is actually a “good value” is looking at what is being newly built; almost nothing. If values were overinflated there can be construction taking place everywhere. Today, buyers who desire a nice condo to buy have to consider a unit which was internal the 2000s or examine a thing that needs significant remodeling. Even ones built-in the 2000s need some updating and most of the older ones are deserving of “to the studs” remodels. But in either case the greatest price-per-sq . ft . is going to be close to the simple price of today’s new and quality construction. Which doesn’t add the land or permits. Some individuals believe that properties selling “below replacement value” mean “good value.”
The sole product that is being newly built in the current market are a few homes in Sierra Star. They are single-family homes in the $900,000 to $1,500,000 range. This is a quite strong segment of your Mammoth market which new product is helping to satisfy the demand. In the 79 single-family home sales in 2015, 30 were priced in excess of $1million. Many buyers are seeing the “good value” from the new homes. Just look at every one of the factors. The lots are located on many of the most gorgeous fairways in the Sierra Star golf course. These parcels were previously slated for condominiums. But that market doesn’t exist. And so the land is likely being acquired at a cost that assists make the whole equation work.
The equation also includes a skilled developer and builder with 4 decades of experience in Mammoth. The project is most likely being run as efficiently and effectively as possible while making a very attractive finished home and neighborhood. The bonus for many owners would be the fact the zoning allows nightly rentals. And the rental/revenue potential is apparently very high. The entire package is very attractive, specially when the discriminating new owners be able to select each of the finishing touches.
Another “good value” factor will be the healthier state in the local condominium associations. Many buyers, owners and sellers might not exactly recognize this. The California Civil Code (aka “Davis-Stirling”) requirements on HOAs possess the associations running more professionally than in the past. This runs from accounting and reserve requirements to regular meetings and communications. For associations where virtually all owners are second homeowners, this can be much more important. And 64dexmpky drought has played a part too; local HOAs have saved on snow removal expenses in the past number of years and they also have been made to reconsidered their water and labor intensive landscaping.
And when a buyer looks to build their own personal home here in Mammoth, the vacant land market still offers excellent and relatively affordable opportunities. Mammoth remains land-locked so sprawl is unthinkable. As well as the hard costs of subdividing land remain high. So for all those looking in this direction, this the best value generally is a “great value.”
Ultimately the “good value” criteria is really as different as the plethora of buyers and people who own Mammoth property. The process is making the right match, and that isn’t always easy. But this is the job of a good agent or broker. And yes, some properties are clearly better values than others. And that is certainly true throughout the whole price spectrum. Which is never exactly about price.
So circling back to the question, yes Mammoth remains a good value. The greater it snows the better the benefit. So let it snow, let it snow, permit it to snow!