Q: We had been in Mammoth throughout the holiday period and that we looked at some condos available for sale. We came away with the impression that Mammoth real estate is a great value today. We believe the years of drought suppressed values. What is your opinion?
A: Mammoth condos are often a good value once the ski conditions are wonderful. With snow comes enthusiasm. Alumni of the Intrawest sales teams will surely recall the phrase “Selling is the transfer of enthusiasm.” So snow equals enthusiasm equals the selling of property. But is Mammoth real estate property a good value with or without snow?
We can easily talk all about proposed developments, and who should own the Ski Area, increased air service and fancier ice rinks all you want. But quality snowpack to experience and recreate on is definitely the crème de la crème supporting the need for local real-estate. Especially since progressively more property owners are trying to maximize nightly rental income and the winter visitors are the “money” inside the equation. In that respect earlier times four drought winters have negatively impacted values.
Value is certainly subjective and subjected to multiple factors. Let’s look at other important dynamics affecting Mammoth’s real estate “value.”
The current drought period also has coincided with all the peak and eventual decline from the distressed property market. Foreclosures and short sales impacted real estate values in Mammoth up to around the nation. Foreclosures peaked inside the 2011-12 timeframe and short sales peaked shortly thereafter (and exactly how the us government intervened in all of that can be another column). The best “deals” (lowest prices) were can be found in this period. So the base of this past market cycle really occurred in addition to the beginning of the drought.
Additionally there is a large faction of mammoth real estate for sale who purchased or refinanced from the mid-2000s who definitely have been looking to liquidate but can’t afford the losing of their good credit score. To them a foreclosure or short sale has gone out-of-the-question. It will be the nature with this market. Many have watched real-estate values nudge upward previously few years and therefore are opting to sell. Several of these sellers actually have to set money to the purchase to close the escrow. Some are taking substantial loses (plus some are offsetting those loses with gains in their other investment areas).
Nevertheless the winding down of the distressed property cycle combined with the drought winters created an equilibrium available in the market. There has been enough supply and enough demand to maintain selling prices inside a stable range. There has been no gigantic push upward like numerous other markets in California. And as usual in Mammoth, there are several segments in the market which may have moved differently.
One of several market comparisons I like to make is exactly what a home 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 might be so many minute but critical variables. When closed sales come from the MLS I determine in the event the property sold back in the 2004-2007 timeframe. I try to ascertain if there are any significant improvements that have been completed to the property that would affect the calculation.
A lot of the sales that get caught in this comparison study reveal that the Mammoth industry is selling at 60 to 70 percent in the selling prices of your mid-2000s. And again there are several variables. The Intrawest developed and sold properties from that era generally have lower percentages (meaning they typically sold for higher market prices a decade ago). The lowest recent sale that we recall was 53%. At the very lowest of the market some were below 40% of their mid-2000 price level (most were foreclosure/REO properties). Around the opposite side there are a few Mammoth properties that happen to be selling slightly over 70% of the items they sold for within the peak period. Although the majority are in the 60 to 70% range.
You could surmise with this that the values only have rebounded modestly. And perhaps the drought winters had plenty related to it.
The drought winters also delayed a number of the Ski Area’s plans for development and expansion. The existing ownership seems destined to spend some money for capital improvements with money they realize as profits rather than utilize money they may borrow. So these improvements are already postponed through the drought winters. These Ski Area improvement projects always usually create some real estate property buzz (enthusiasm) and some increased demand. Investors always follow investors and investment.
The one thing that strikes me as odd is the Ski Area’s ownership owns a significant part of the remaining developable real-estate in Mammoth and yet they see no reason to take a little bit risk to stimulate the local values. But exactly what do I know? Sometimes it would appear that the environmentalists do run the show within Mammoth. The older I become the better I feel that may be that is a positive thing.
And lately it appears to be the the Ski Area’s owners have realized the “good value” of having the Town’s ice rink aligned with all of their real estate property. We’ll have to see.
A different way of assessing whether or not the local real-estate is actually a “good value” looks at what is being newly built; almost nothing. If values were overinflated there will be construction taking place everywhere. Today, clients who want a nice condo to acquire have to consider a unit which was built-in the 2000s or examine an issue that needs significant remodeling. Including the ones built-in the 2000s require some updating and many of the older ones are deserving of “to the studs” remodels. But either way the ultimate price-per-square foot will be close to the simple expense of today’s new and quality construction. And therefore doesn’t are the land or permits. Many people feel that properties selling “below replacement value” mean “good value.”
The sole product that has been newly built in the current market are a handful of homes in Sierra Star. These are generally single-family homes within the $900,000 to $1,500,000 range. This is a very strong segment in the Mammoth market and that cool product helps to satisfy the demand. From the 79 single-family home sales in 2015, 30 were priced in excess of $1million. Many buyers are seeing the “good value” within the new homes. Just look at all the factors. The lots are situated on probably the most gorgeous fairways from 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 create the whole equation work.
The equation comes with an experienced developer and builder with four decades of experience in Mammoth. The project may well be being run as efficiently and effectively as is possible while producing a very attractive finished home and neighborhood. The bonus for several owners is the fact the zoning allows nightly rentals. Along with the rental/revenue potential is apparently high. The complete package is incredibly attractive, specially when the discriminating new owners be able to select every one 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 recognize this. The California Civil Code (aka “Davis-Stirling”) requirements on HOAs have the associations running more professionally than before. This runs from accounting and reserve requirements to regular meetings and communications. For associations where virtually all owners are second homeowners, this is more important. And 64dexmpky drought has played a role too; local HOAs have saved on snow removal expenses previously few years and they also have been made to reconsidered their water and labor intensive landscaping.
And in case a buyer is looking to develop 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 anyone looking in this direction, this good value might be a “great value.”
Ultimately the “good value” criteria can be as different as the plethora of buyers and owners of Mammoth real estate property. The process is making the right match, and this 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 with the whole price spectrum. And it is never all about price.
So circling to the question, yes Mammoth remains a good value. The more it snows the higher the significance. So let it snow, let it snow, permit it to snow!