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Buying a Resort and Second Home in Mammoth Lakes

September 29, 2014

Real Estate

Buying a Resort and Second Home in Mammoth Lakes

ca map with mammothThe resort town of Mammoth Lakes is located approximately 5-6 hours away from major cities such as Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and San Francisco. A large percentage of buyers looking to purchase a second home in Mammoth Lakes live in these areas.

The Mammoth Lakes real estate market typically sees more homes go on the market between Spring/Summer, and Fall/Winter, to coincide with the main tourist seasons.  With a dismal winter ski season at the beginning of 2013/2014, the upcoming season is looking to have a major impact on the local housing market once the first snows fall, and the mountains open for skiing.

Many homeowners held onto their properties this year, while waiting for the winter rebound this fall.  This winter’s ski season and snow fall will tell a lot for the Mammoth Lakes real estate market.

As the graph below clearly shows, the average median home price is climbing compared to years’ past.

1st Qtr 2014 Home Sales


Important things to consider when buying your main or second home in Mammoth lakes:

Orientation: What way is the home facing? If north-facing, the snow and ice will take much longer to melt than a south-facing home.  A south-facing home will also help to heat your home and cut down on heating costs.  If you are viewing the property when there is no snow, it is a good idea to request photos when snow is visible.  This will give you the opportunity to see how the snow around the property accumulates and where excess snow is stored.

Year built: If this is to be a second home for you and your family, you want to consider what year the home was built.  Anything built before 1980 likely will have built-in maintenance and upgrades needed simply because of the age of the home and the beatings the weather (and often vacation renters) will have put on it.  Although many older properties have been upgraded, there are still a significant number still sporting dated decor (ie. formica, orange carpet).  For single family homes factor in replacement costs for roof, siding, plumbing, etc. in an older home.  In addition, compliance with the new local fireplace ordinance is not optional and applies to many older properties.

Condo or Single Family Home: Do you plan on renting out the property when you are not in Mammoth?  If you plan on renting for short-term vacation rentals you are pretty much eliminating the majority of single family homes.  Many people are not aware most single family homes cannot be rented out on a nightly basis — only some areas within the Town of Mammoth Lakes are zoned transient rentals. Next, consider maintenance of the property.  Maintaining property at 8000’ elevation is a little different than sea level.  Owning a condo means you pay monthly Home Owners Association (HOA) dues and in most cases snow is removed in the driveway (parking lot), walkways and areas in front of fire hydrants.   In addition, consider roof snow/ice removal and prevention of frozen pipes which is usually handled by the management company.

Owning a single family residence means you must take care of these maintenance concerns yourself.  You can hire a management company and be responsible for finding the company, negotiating the contract and making sure the work gets done.

Resort Zoned: Is the area or subdivision you are considering buying in zoned “Resort?”  This special zoning allows for “nightly” rentals of your property if you are purchasing this as a second home to rent out at the times you are not staying in it.  As mentioned previously, the majority of single family homes cannot be rented nightly but there are some condos also zoned for no nightly rentals.  If you plan on spending most of your time in your new home, you may also not want to live in an area zoned “resort” because of the allowance of nightly rentals.

With all there is to do in Mammoth Lakes, purchasing your second home in Mammoth will have you coming back again and again, whether you are staying for a short time or a long time.

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