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Things to Consider When Buying a Home in Mammoth Lakes, CA

Thinking about buying real estate in Mammoth Lakes, CA? Here are 5 things to consider first:


One of the most important things to consider when looking to buy a home in Mammoth Lakes is the orientation. If the front of the home is north-facing, the snow and ice will take much longer to melt than a property that has south-facing exposure. Making sure that the property you’re interested in has plenty of southern exposure and windows will not only help in keeping snow removal costs down, but will also keep your energy costs down. Passive solar is a free source of heating your property in the winter. A home that is nestled in the trees and doesn’t get much sunlight will stay much cooler in the winter and summer months.


Another important consideration to factor in when deciding to buy a home in Mammoth Lakes is the roof composition. Getting a homeowner’s insurance policy on a home that has a Cedar Shake roof is very difficult and expensive. Because of the high fire danger that Mammoth Lakes and surrounding areas have, insurance companies will charge a much higher premium to insure a property that has that type of roof. The best roof option you can go with in Mammoth that will require the least amount of maintenance and slough snow off is a metal roof.


Although most homes in Mammoth Lakes do have garages, many do not. If you are thinking about buying a home and are the “hearty” type that doesn’t mind digging out your car after a big snow storm (or like the exercise) then this won’t be an issue. However, Mammoth Lakes can get some very big storms and driving around town with an enormous pile of snow on the roof of your car will put strain on the suspension and engine of your car. It’s important to really think it through carefully as to whether you are up for the challenge of shoveling and digging out your car in the winter months.


The harsh and severe climate in Mammoth Lakes tends to take its toll on properties. If you’re looking at buying a much older home (prior to 1980), more than likely you will have some big ticket items that will surface in the future, such as replacing the wood siding, roof, plumbing, electrical… For this reason, potential buyers tend to lean towards newer homes or homes that have been remodeled. Make sure that you factor in replacement costs if considering a purchase of an older home or find out what the seller has done to maintain the property over the years.


Town of Mammoth Lakes Zoning Map

RESIDENTIAL SINGLE FAMILY: This type of zoning means that nightly rentals are prohibited per the Town of Mammoth Lakes (TOML). Up until recently, enforcement of this ordinance was left unchecked for many years. The TOML has employed staff to audit various websites such as VRBO.com (Vacation Rentals by Owner), Homeaway.com, Craig’s List, etc. to specifically look for Mammoth homeowners within this zoning who are advertising their properties for nightly rentals. Strict fines apply to those who are discovered. However, you are allowed to rent out your property for a minimum of thirty days or longer. There is a huge demand for residential seasonal rentals (especially in the winter), which could help offset some of your costs of ownership if you end up purchasing a single-family residence located within the “Residential” zone that prohibits nightly rentals.

RESORT: Currently there are six general areas that are zoned “Resort”, which are indicated by the pink shaded areas of the Zoning map via the link below. They are: Snowcreek, Meadow, Starwood, Sierra Star Golf course communities (including Crooked Pines), Juniper Springs Resort, and Juniper Ridge. This type of zoning may allow for nightly rentals, but prospective buyers should refer to the individual Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) of the homeowner’s association (HOA) to see if nightly rentals are permitted. For example, Starwood is zoned “Resort”, but the CC&Rs do not allow for nightly rentals. The same applies to Snowcreek Ranch & Snowcreek Fairway Ranch. This rule could be changed by a vote between the homeowners within those subdivisions, but most homeowners are opposed to changing the CC&Rs to allow transient rentals because of the noise, disruption, increased traffic and potential problems that most likely follow. At this time, the only subdivisions that do allow for nightly rentals are Crooked Pines (the homes located at the end of Lodestar Drive on the Sierra Star golf course) and Juniper Ridge, which is comprised of high-end, ski-in, ski-out homes in the Chair 15/Eagle Express area.

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