Monthly Archives: October 2016

Contracting

Looking for Contracting work? Here are a few helpful tips:

Do you want to remodel your kitchen, or maybe upgrade your bathroom? Well, it’s quite possible that you are in need of a Licensed Contractor. By California’s definition, a contractor is someone who does over $500 in labor and material improvements to your property.

What does it take to become a Licensed Contractor? Licensees must pass a state exam, carry a $15,000 bond, have four years of experience/ supervised work, and meet other requirements to acquire a license. Licensees must not only prove that they know their specific contracting skill(s) but also know contracting law. You can look up a licensee Here using their license # to see if any complaints have been filed and other info about their license.

There are 44 different contracting specialties from a General Contractor to a Solar Contractor. To see all the types of contractors Click Here. A general contractor is one who practices multiple skills and must use at least 2 unrelated skills on a job where a specialty contractor can focus on their expertise.

Looking to be an owner-builder? It is important to understand the risks involved. You need to know how to pull building permits, understand your responsibilities, and ultimately realize that the integrity of your project lies with you. Click Here to view more tips and warning for owner-builders. Also, the town of Mammoth requires you sign a Owner-Builder Declaration to ensure you assume the responsibilities.

Using a licensed contractor protects you against fraud, faulty construction, and protection if you are unsatisfied with the work. Also, if people are on your property who is liable if an injury occurs? It is up to the property owner to hire someone who they can hold accountable. To view other benefits of hiring a contractor visit http://www.cslb.ca.gov/.

California law states that property managers (i.e. for Mammoth condo complexes) are required to have a license if they are doing jobs over $500, even if it is just routine maintenance. Also, the closest enforcement agency is in Fresno. They rarely visit Mammoth to check out work sites. However, the best protection as a property owner is to look up a contractor yourself Here.

**Most of this information applies to both general and specialty contractors.

— Joel Turner

Market Minute + First Snow

Mother Nature has been flirting with us here in Mammoth and has given us a nice little dusting (actually more than a dusting) to whet our appetites for the upcoming winter.  It’s been a stunning summer and fall here in Mammoth Lakes and we’re all hoping for another good winter to follow last season.

As far as the real estate market goes, it has remained steady.  As typically happens this time of year, we have seen condo inventory fall as properties go into escrow and those that haven’t sold decide to hang on for one more year and pull their properties off the market.  The number of condos on the market at one point this summer got up to around 170 and we are now at 129 condos on the market.  Properties that are priced well seem to be selling and we are even getting multiple offers in certain situations (not all).  There are currently 38 condos in escrow.  We think it’s fair to say that it’s neither a buyer’s nor a seller’s market but rather a good market for both…again, as long as the properties are well priced.  To put these numbers in perspective, at one point in the last decade or so we had well over 300 condos listed for sale.  At another point (at the peak when properties were being purchase sight unseen) we were down to about 35 or so.

Single family homes aren’t seeing as much activity but are still moving if priced well.  We currently have 64 single family homes on the market and 11 homes in escrow.  There are definitely some good deals to be had and we’re seeing some locals try to get into the real estate market as first time home buyers or even upgrading from a condo or smaller home.  If you already own a home in Mammoth, time to make sure your heat is turned up to prevent pipes from freezing.

With the Mountain opening day right around the corner, it’s time to make sure you’ve got your equipment ready to go!  And THINK SNOW!!!!!!

Vacasa

The New Kid In Town

Vacasa Vacation Rental Management

There are several very good local rental management companies to choose from, like Mammoth Rental by Owner, Mammoth Reservations, (and more here: www.MammothLakesResources.com).  Vacasa, with nine properties under management so far, is among the newest.

Vacasa provides the returns of listing your property on a site like VRBO.com or Airbnb.com, but with none of the hassle. They are a full service company that takes care of everything from bookings and housekeeping to making sure the propane tank on your BBQ remains filled.

What really sets Vacasa apart from other local property management companies is their financial guarantee.

“If another vacation rental firm currently manages your home, we guarantee that you will earn more during your first year with Vacasa. If you currently manage your home by yourself, we guarantee that you will earn at least as much with Vacasa managing your home, even after our management fee. If not, we will refund the difference, up to the full amount of our management fee”

A company that is so confident they can beat the competition that they will refund the difference if they don’t? I wanted to know how they could make such a claim. I spoke with local Vacasa Manager Emma Romo Haisten about it. She explained to me that Vacasa is able to beat the returns of other companies by utilizing new technology. They have an advanced algorithm and a ‘rates analysis team’ that help set the prices for each rental each night. This helps owners earn more by keeping their rental booked more often at the appropriate rate, similar to how a hotel room or an airline flight is booked. Prices rise or drop with demand.

Even though it is an international company that has won awards from the BBB, Vacasa hires a local team in each city it is in. They have a local manager, reservationist, handymen, and housekeepers. They say on their website, “We hire the best housekeepers in each destination, and we retain them by offering a year-round living wage and plenty of advancement opportunities in an industry known for its seasonal fluctuations.”

They also post all of their listings on VRBO.com as well as their own site, to attract new guests that may not have heard of Vacasa yet. Another neat feature- even if you don’t own property yet, you can request an income projection for the unit you’re interested in to give you an idea for how much money you could make by renting the property through Vacasa. Property management, welcome to the 21st century!

We here at The Dennis Cox + Tara Peterson Group are interested to see how Vacasa does in our local market. Right now they are only managing nine rentals in Mammoth and are working to build their team. How will they stack up against the well-established property management companies in our area?  Would you be willing to try a company that is new to our area?

Interested in learning more? You can check out vacasa.com or contact Emma directly at Emma.Haisten@vacasa.com

And check out their article in Forbes at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/brucerogers/2016/04/08/eric-breon-builds-vacasa-vacation-rental-service-into-high-growth-business/#1121a6776622
By Shelby Pracht

NEW WATER-CONSERVING FIXTURE LAW

NEW LAW AFFECTING ALL CALIF. HOMEOWNERS AS OF 1/1/2017

Requires Water-Conserving Plumbing Fixtures

 

There is a new law rushing at us that takes effect January 1, 2017 which requires all homeowners in California to have water conserving plumbing fixtures.  Did you catch that?  All homeowners.  Not just when you sell your home (i.e. “point of sale”), but simply if you own property as of 1/1/17.

If you own a single family residence in CA as of Jan 1st, you will be outside of the law if you have any of these non-compliant plumbing fixtures:

  • Any toilet manufactured to use more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush.
  • Any urinal manufactured to use more than one gallon of water per flush.
  • Any showerhead manufactured to have a flow capacity of more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute.
  • Any interior faucet that emits more than 2.2 gallons of water per minute.

Once I heard this, I rushed to my toilets and saw that they all use 1.6 gallons per flush…phew.  And I don’t know how many homes have urinals, but I have yet to hold a bucket under my showerhead with a stopwatch to calculate the gpm.

However, if you own a home that was built after 1/1/1992, your toilets are probably okay since California has required low-flow toilets for new construction since this date.  And the law actually only applies to homes built before 1/1/1994, so homes that are less than 23 years old are okay!

And get this…condos are exempt!  The law reads “single family residential property” and condominiums are not SFR’s!  Will the law be expanded to include condos?  I predict that they will.  In Mammoth Lakes, I count about 4,540 condominium units built before 1992…that’s a lot of toilets.  As an aside, the law states that multifamily and commercial properties do not need to comply until 1/1/19.

Policing: How will this law be policed?  I find it hard to believe that a state agency will be going door to door to measure your fixture flow rates.  Real Estate law currently requires that when you sell your home, you must disclose the presence of any water conserving plumbing fixtures.  (Realtors love it when they do this…effectively making us the police.)  The Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement form (“TDS”), which all sellers must fill out and provide to buyers during escrow, currently has a box to check if you have “Water-Conserving Plumbing Fixtures.”

An attorney from the California Association of Realtors believes that the Seller Property Questionnaire (SPQ) form will be revised by the end of 2016 to include a question that may be stated this way: “Are you (Seller) aware of any noncompliant plumbing fixtures?”  And if a Seller checks “Yes,” they are required to explain further.  So, if you remodeled a few of your bathrooms but still have one old bathroom with a high-flow toilet, you must disclose that it is non-compliant.

Then what?  Is the Seller required to upgrade the fixture(s) before the close of escrow?  Not necessarily.  The TDS pg 2 says, “Installation of a listed appliance, device, or amenity is not a precondition of sale or transfer of the dwelling.”  So, it will probably be left up to the Buyer and Seller to negotiate this.  If it is realized early, it can be built into the list price and disclosed in the listing that “Buyer shall be responsible for compliance with water-conserving plumbing fixture state law.”  Or, it could be asked for by Buyers after the home inspection – which brings up the question about how or even if home inspectors will test these fixtures.

The current corollary to this law is the requirement for all property owners to have carbon monoxide detectors in their dwelling.  If a property does not have them, Buyers or their lenders will often request that the Seller install them before close of escrow.  Sellers do not usually mind because these devices are not too expensive (sometimes we agents end up taking care of it out of our pockets).

If Buyers do ask for Seller to bring noncompliant fixtures into compliance before close of escrow, this is a much bigger ticket item, and even if a Seller did agree, the Seller will most likely install the cheapest fixtures available.  I predict that Buyers are going to ask for a credit so that they can upgrade the appliance to their liking after the close of escrow (and many Buyers may just pocket the money and not even make the modifications).

I called the Mammoth Community Water District to ask about enforcement and they do not currently have an enforcement program in place, nor do they know if they will even be responsible for enforcement.  They have called both the state and the Town of Mammoth Lakes but have not gotten any concrete info.  Sounds like this law is not on many people’s radar yet.

However, the MCWD does have a generous rebate program in place to help incentivize us to upgrade our toilets and showerheads (http://www.mcwd.dst.ca.us/rebates.html).

Other resources:

So for now, just be aware this law is coming at us quickly, but is not clear how it will be enforced.  It will be interesting to see how the real estate market reacts/adjusts to the latest ordinance affecting our largest asset(s).

– By Dennis Cox

Coffee in Mammoth

Where to Cozy Up with the Best Coffee this Fall

“Why yes, I’ll take the pumpkin spice everything, thank you.”

sawada-coffee-image-for-blog

Cool Temps and Warm Coffee

Fall is a beautiful time in the Eastern Sierra. The temperatures are dropping, the leaves are changing, and it just smells like autumn. Nothing can rival the fall color hikes and drives that the Eastside has to offer this time of year. Except maybe snuggling up with a warm cup of coffee afterward.

Drink Local

While I enjoy a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks as much as the next guy, taking the time to seek out some local brews will be well worth your time. All coffee shops offer hi-speed wi-fi, so you can get some work done or lazily browse through some real estate listings! If your style is…..

Modern Industrial Chic

Check out the newest local coffee shop, Black Velvet Coffee. It’s located in the Mammoth Luxury outlets and they roast their own beans (which you can purchase to take home!) They also do wine tastings, and serve waffles. Yes, waffles; little scrumptious waffles that make the whole place smell delicious. The exposed metal and concrete design makes the place feel very hip and fun.

 

Eclectic and Colorful

Stellar Brew is for you. The bright blue building on Main St. is hard to miss. Now is the perfect time to sit out on their patio and enjoy the sunshine. The local artwork and jewelry displayed are not the only reason that Stellar Brew is the favorite hangout for local hikers and climbers- they offer an incredible array of breakfast and lunch options on top of the delicious drinks and smoothies. Their baked goods rival the best in town (the cinnamon rolls are to die for) and they offer lots of options for those with food allergies and sensitivities. Don’t miss their pumpkin pie chai this time of year!

 

Classic and Cozy

Looney Bean is always a good bet. With a location in Mammoth and in Bishop, you can’t go wrong snuggling up by the fireplace and feeling the Looney Love. Looney Bean also roasts their own coffee and the company has been around making friends in the coffee world since 1992. Worked up a sweat on your hike? Go with their cold brew coffee. Believe me, your taste buds will thank you.

Don’t worry if you are a creature of habit, Mammoth has two Starbucks locations (In the Village at Mammoth and the Minaret Mall next to Vons) where you can grab your usual. Cheers to leaf-peeping and delicious coffee – and keep an eye out for me snuggled in the corner with a book and a latte!

-Shelby Pracht