Buying a Condo in Mammoth Lakes, CA

Condo Basics

There are 4 types of condos available for purchase in Mammoth Lakes:

  1. Condominium / Townhome – The first type listed is a whole ownership with conventional financing available.   In our market, nightly rentals may or may not be allowed in this type of condo.  Refer to the HOA docs for info.  These types of condos have the most flexibility with rentals and owner improvements.
  2. Condo-Hotel – The Condo-Hotel property type is specific to only a few properties in town including The Village at Mammoth, The Westin Monache and Juniper Springs Resort and a few others.  These properties offer whole ownership opportunities as well.  You would stay in the unit that you purchase when you use it for yourself.  These condos may have some restrictions as far as furnishings or décor requirements. They are specific to nightly rentals and providing rental income for the owners.  3/5/7 year ARM financing for these condos may be available with 30% down.  This type of lending is more stringent as far as borrower requirements. First time buyers should probably not waste their time applying for these loans.  The rule is that the condo must have a full kitchen to qualify for financing.
  3. Deed Restricted – Deed Restricted condos were new on the market in 2006 when the Town of Mammoth legislated that a certain number of local workforce housing units be made available to locals for purchase.  There may be down payment assistance available for locals through Mammoth Lakes Housing.  To purchase this type of property you would need to establish a work and residence history in the town.  These properties do not fluctuate in value with the open market, but are restricted as far as value changes.  They do not allow for nightly rentals or even long term rentals, but only owner occupancy.  Many of the deed restricted units have been converted in the recent years back to non-deed restricted units as the popularity of these waned with the downward trend in the real estate market from 2007-2012.
  4. Fractional Interest – Fractional ownership condos are available at the following condos: 80/50, Tallus and Mammoth Ski & Racquet Club.  They are offered in shares of 1/6 or 1/8 ownership.  When you purchase this type of condo, you are purchasing a set of weeks to be used by you or someone you designate.  You may or may not stay in the same condo unit that you own.  The weeks can be sold for rental income as well.  Usually you would split the HOA dues equally between all owners.  When purchasing on this type of condo, be aware that all owners must be in agreement before any modifications or updates can be made to the condo.  Many times these condos will have dated interiors, unless they are in one of the newer projects listed above.

There are about 113 different condo complexes in Mammoth Lakes currently, ranging from just a few units per association up to hundreds of units.  This property type comprises the majority of the sales that occur every year and generally has the greatest turnover of any property type.

There are a few building styles of condos in Mammoth Lakes to choose from:

Stacked apartment style, Townhome, Duplex, and Freestanding unit. During the last construction boom ending in 2006, many luxury condominiums were built.  The low end of the price range for condos currently in Mammoth Lakes is about $150,000 on average.  Prices range up to approximately $1.5M on the upper end.  The main factors in determining price are proximity to Mammoth Mountain, the gondola or ski lifts or U.S. Forest Service land or Mammoth trails systems, the style of condo, its condition and age.

Most of the older condos in town lack laundry in the unit, covered parking and gas heat.  Newer construction condos have gas stoves, forced air gas heat, underground parking, and shared or private garages.

When purchasing an older condominium it is important to be aware of the reserve study now required by the State of California, explaining the remaining life of the components of the common area building, such as siding, roof and plumbing.  The reserve study will be provided to you during the escrow process and gives a percentage of the needed reserves funded for the required improvements.  It is best if the condo association has a funding of at least 15% – 35% to be considered healthy.  Many of the condos built in the 1970’s-1980’s are now in the process of replacing these components and can have costly assessments if the reserves are not available within the HOA.  There are quite a few condominium complexes in Mammoth that have completed extensive exterior remodels now and are in great shape with healthy reserves and are a good buy currently.

HOA dues for Mammoth condos generally range somewhere between $350/mo – $1000/mo, usually depending on the size of the unit.  HOA dues usually cover the costs of: snow removal, water, grounds maintenance, management and sometimes heat, wireless internet and cable TV.