Your Big Bear Lakefront Real Estate Blog

An up-to-date resource for lakefront market reports, news, and infomation...

July 1, 2017

2017 First Half Big Bear Real Estate Market Report

We're halfway through 2017 and the market has been growing as predicted; single digit appreciation with strong buyer interest and low home inventory resulting in continued price gains.

Sales are up 12% over last year with 513 Big Bear homes sold in the first half of 2017. Home inventory is down with there currently being 529 homes for sale compared to 625 last year at this time.

When comparing Big Bear home sales from the first half of 2016 to that of 2017, we saw the average and median home price rise 5% and 3% to $307,511 and $298,492 respectively. Meanwhile, the average and median price per square foot rose 5% and 4% to $204 and $200 respectively.

The average Days On Market dropped slightly from 105 days in 2016 to 100 days in 2017, while the median Days On Market stayed even at a very low 65 days.

The sales price to list price ratio also stayed steady around 97.5% with sellers conceding 2.5% off list price at the time of sale on average.

So the market remains strong and prices keep rising. With interest rates still around 4% and the overall economy doing well, things are looking for for the second half of 2017!

Posted in Market Reports
June 28, 2017

Local Appraiser Explains Flaws Using Price Per Square Foot Comparison In Big Bear

One of the most common questions we get as realtors from buyers and sellers is about the price per square foot when comparing properties to derive value. One of our most experienced and respected local appraisers, Rick Hackney, explains the flaws in making comparisons using price per square foot and points out why it is even less accurate using this measure in the Big Bear real estate market.


Why Doesn't a Big Bear Appraiser Use Price Per Square Foot to Determine Value


"What is the price per sq ft?"  I get this question often from realtors and homeowners.  Because this is a common method of comparison, I thought I would explain how appraisers view this approach to value.


The price per sq ft is the most familiar method of comparison that many people are aware of.   Remember that everything about the property is summed up in the price per sf, including the lot size, view, age, quality, condition, and other features, all lumped together into a price per sf.  Because of this, it is important to select sales that are very similar to the home you are appraising and from the same neighborhood.


If you have a home with a 2 car garage, or a larger lot size, or superior view and are comparing it to a home with none of these features, the accuracy of your estimate will be reduced.  This is also true if you look at a home that is significantly larger than yours, even though all other features are equal, because a larger home will typically sell for less per sf.  This is the principle of diminishing returns that states the more square footage you add the less value you get for the extra area.


Homes in Big Bear were individually built on vacant lots from back in the 1920's to the present.  You have large and small, old and new, custom and basic construction mixed together within the same tract or neighborhood.  As a result, the price per sq ft method of valuation is unreliable.  The exception to this is the Maple Ridge tract across from the Big Bear High School, because these are similar in age, lot size, only a limited number of models exist and the design and features are very similar.  There are variables, primarily limited to upgrades of exterior siding and interior finish work.  This area is one of the few in Big Bear, that is similar to tract housing, found down the hill. 


Price per sq ft may be a good indicator of value for tract housing.  Appraisers however, are required by lenders to select recent sales "comps", in close proximity to the house being appraised, with as many similarities as possible.  Instead of calculating price per sq ft for these comps, lenders require that each sale be adjusted for differences, including, lot size, view, quality of construction, condition of improvements, bedroom/bath count, living area, garages, etc.  The appraiser is required to be geographically competent and to have researched the area regarding market reaction (how buyers react) to these differences and make adjustments accordingly.


I hope this sheds some light on how appraisers estimate value and why they don't rely on price per sq ft.  If you have any questions, I will do my best to answer them.  I can be reached at 909 866-4225.


Best Wishes,



Rick Hackney

Posted in Other
June 4, 2017

Big Bear Real Estate Numbers for May 2017

Comparing real estate data from May 2016 to May 2017, the number of Big Bear home sales were up a whopping 38% this year.

Although sales increased significantly, prices measures were mixed. The average sales price for Big Bear homes was down 2.5% to $295,828 while the median rose 3% to $260,000. The average price per square foot was down 2% to $212 while the median rose 7.5% to $209.

The average Days On Market rose from 90 days to 110 days while the sales price-to-list price ratio stayed about the same at 97%.

Looking at a year-to-date comparison, sales so far in 2017 are up 12% over the same time period last year with 488 Big Bear homes sold.

The average sale price is up 3% to $304,193 while the median also showed a 3% increase to $255,000. The average price per square foot rose 5% to $210 while the median also rose 5% to $204.

Days on market stayed exactly the same at 108 days while the sales price-to-list price ratio stayed even at 97%.

Being only 1 month away from half way through 2017, the Big Bear Real Estate market has continued to flourish. The big jump in sales coupled with low inventory is sure to keep prices moving in the positive direction.

Posted in Market Reports
May 15, 2017

Big Bear Real Estate Seeing Seasonal Increase In LIstings

As yet another summer approaches, we are now seeing our annual rise in the number of Big Bear homes for sale. Every spring brings more listings as the busy summer season approaches.

Big Bear Home Inventory

You can see from the figure above that the uptick in home listings that we are now seeing is typical for this time of year and that the Big Bear real estate market tends to work on a somewhat predictable annual cycle. Since the bottom of the market in 2011, you can see how the inventory of Big Bear homes for sale has decreased and settled into a much more stable yearly cycle.

We will likely see the number of listings rise into July and August when an increased number of home sales will cause inventory to once again drop.

For buyers, I feel there is a buying "sweet spot" at this time of year when more listings flood the market yet the busy buying season is still a month or two away. Once summer is upon us, we will see far more prospective buyers in the market which makes purchasing more competitive. Because of this, not only will sellers likely concede less in negotiations, but multiple offer scenarios are more likely to occur.

So if you've been looking to buy a Big Bear home but have been frustrated at the lack of inventory, now is the time of year to keep a keen eye out and be ready to move fast when that home you've been looking for finally hits the market!

Posted in Market Reports
May 1, 2017

April 2017 Big Bear Real Estate Report


Good news! Comparing April of 2017 to last April, the number of sales are up, prices are up, days on market and sales price to list price ratio stayed about the same, while inventory of homes for sale remains low.

This April saw 88 Big Bear homes sold which is almost 8% higher than last year's 81 April closings.

The average and median sale prices of sold Big Bear homes are up 5% and 3% from last April to $298,941 and $259,250 respectively.

The average and median prices per square foot of sold Big Bear homes are up 16% and 8% to $229 and $214 respectively.

The average days on market rose slightly from 96 to 99 while the median rose slightly as well from 57 to 64.

The average sales price to list price ratio of sold Big Bear homes stayed steady at 97%, showing that sellers on average conceded about 3% off of their list price in negotiations.


Good news again! Comparing sales of Big Bear homes from January 1st to April 30th of last year to that of the same time period this year, we also see gains in all price measures.

Last year, there were 327 Big Bear homes sales through the end of April whereas this year that number rose about 6% to 345 closings.

The average and median sales prices of Big Bear homes rose 4% and 5% to $311,378 and 257,040 respectively.

The average and median prices per square foot of Big Bear homes gained 7% and 4% to $218 and $208 respectively.

Days on market is down slightly from 110 last year to 107 this year while the sales price to list price ratio stays steady at about 97%.

As for home inventory, there are currently 389 Big Bear homes listed for sale in the Big Bear MLS. Last year, there were 528. This unusually low supply of homes on the market suggests that the negotiation advantage leans towards the sellers.


With sales of Big Bear homes up and inventory of homes for sale remaining low, we are likely to see the Big Bear real estate market remain strong through the foreseeable future. Interest rates remain low and the economy of Southern California remains strong as well, while locally Big Bear lake's water levels have rise about 6 feet from last December's low point and our local resorts are in the process of being purchased by Aspen Ski Co.-KSL Capital Partners.

With all these positive forces affecting the market currently, things are looking good for Big Bear real estate! 


Posted in Market Reports
April 28, 2017

Aspen Ski CO - KSL Capital Partners In Process of Purchasing Big Bear Resorts

Big Bear - Aspen Ski CoJust a couple years after Mammoth Mountain purchased Big Bear's two local resorts, Bear Mountain and Snow summit, the mountains will likely be under new ownership by next winter as Aspen Ski Co. - KSL Capital Partners are in the process of buying Mammoth Mountain and it's other associated ski resorts.

Having seen a significant bump in visitorship after our local resorts were purchased by Mammoth in 2015, there is a local sense of optimism that the positive impact on Big Bear's economy will continue and improve as the new ownership has significantly more working capital than previous ownership had. This may finally bring the long awaited expansion and  improvements to our local resorts that many locals have been waiting for.

The impact of this purchase is likely to be a positive one for our local Big Bear real estate market. Like most big news of this nature, expectations of immediate price increases will almost certainly be exaggerated. But longer term, it is likely we will see home prices increase more than they would have otherwise assuming the purchase is completed this fall as expected.

How much will Big Bear homes prices increase? No one knows. But having been a resident of the valley for over 25 years, with the exception of the "fake", artificially-inflated conditions in the early 2000s, I can't remember the Big Bear real estate market being in a better position than it is right now.


Posted in Market Reports
April 18, 2017

Big Bear Real Estate Market Update - a quick look at inventory and demand...

It's mid-month when I usually take a look at the inventory of Big Bear homes for sale. Unlike the last few years at this time, we have very few Big Bear homes listed for sale right now. Take a look...

Home inventory is a good indicator of a market's direction. Economics 101 taught us that supply and demand dictate pricing. Home inventory is the supply of homes, and right now, that supply is low. That means that buyers have few homes to choose from so there will be more competition in purchasing what homes are on the market.

The other side of the equation is demand. Take a look at a short history of first quarter sales of Big Bear homes...

You can see that demand has increased quite steadily over the past few years.

So with supply of Big Bear homes for sale decreasing while demand for Big Bear homes is increasing, basic economics suggests that prices should continue to go up. Of course, there are other external factors that affect the fate of the Big Bear real estate market, but the basics of supply and demand leave me justifiably optimistic for the foreseeable future.

Posted in Market Reports
April 13, 2017

2017 First Quarter Big Bear Real Estate Report

The number of Big Bear homes sold was up slightly in the first quarter of 2017 from 246 closings in the first quarter of last year to 257 this year.

Meanwhile, all four price measures showed appreciation as well. The average and median price of a Big Bear home rose 4% and 5% to $315,636 and $255,000 respectively. The average and median price per square foot gained 3.5% and 3% to $206 and $202 respectively.

The Days On Market stayed relatively the same with homes taking 110 days on average to sell while the sales price to list price ratio stayed steady at about 97%.

Mortgage rates are creeping up but are still in the remarkably low 4%-4.25% range. The inventory of homes for sale also remains historically low with there being 379 Big Bear homes for sale currently as compared to there being about 460 listings around this time last year.

As far as local news affecting the real estate market, a story broke yesterday that out local ski resorts, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, have entered and agreement to be purchased by an Aspen ski conglomerate in association with a capital investment group. This is likely very good news for Big Bear real estate as the new owners will have the resources to make the current ownership's 10 year development plan a reality. The effect of significant upgrades to the local resorts will likely be a hug benefit to the Big Bear real estate market. Pending approval, this deal should be finalized by the third quarter of this year.

With so few Big Bear homes listed for sale, with buyer demand staying strong, with interest rates still in the low 4% range, and with the new news about the pending purchase of our local mountains by big-time investors, my outlook for the foreseeable future for Big Bear real estate remains quite optimistic!




Posted in Market Reports
March 31, 2017

2017 First Quarter Lakefront Sales

Although we experienced our snowiest winter in quite some time, we still had a fair share of lakefront sales this winter as lakefront buyers anticipated higher water levels for Big Bear Lake this year. In fact, all four lakefront sales occurred this March as ski season is winding down and attention is turning toward the lake.

The first sale was 40074 Lakeview Drive. This shallow water 4 bed, 2 bath, 1216 square foot cabin was built in 1948 and is situated at the end of Mallard Lagoon. This property has a dock but the lake will need several more feet of water before it is floating. Having been listed several times over the past few years, this lakefront cabin listed for $499,900 and sold for $475,000 selling at $390 per square foot.

The next sale was 38967 Bayview Lane. This 4 bed, 3 bath, 2433 square foot lakefront sits on Boulder Bay with a dock currently in the water. Although built in 1974 and somewhat dated, this home has great lake views and spacious decking, complete with hot tub, from which to enjoy the great outdoors. Listed for $899,000 and selling for $860,000, this home closed at $353 per square foot.

The third Big Bear lakefront home sale was my listing at 743 Cove Drive. This 4 bed, 3 bath, 1719 square foot home has a unique octagon architecture style and is tucked among the boulders in a side cove off Boulder Bay. This home comes with a boat dock but the dock is currently beached. Also having been listed for a few years, this home was likely purchased in anticipation of future higher lake levels bringing greater appreciation. Listing at $779,000 and selling for $730,000, this home closed at $424 per square foot.

The most recent lakefront sale was 39475 North Shore Drive, a 3 bed, 2 bath, 1288 square foot home with a two car garage situated on a dry cove in the north shore town of Fawnskin. This was a probate sale in which I represented the buyer and seller. This was an investment opportunity in which a full lake would likely bring impressive returns. Listing at $525,000 and selling at $475,000, this home closed at $369 per square foot.

Considering the cold, wet winter we had and considering how difficult it was to show property this winter, I would consider the Big Bear lakefront real estate market off to a good start in 2017. As the snow in the surrounding mountains continues to melt and Big Bear lake continues to fill, I am certain we will see interest in lakefront homes increase towards summer.


March 31, 2017

Big Bear Lake's Water Levels Are Rising

Although we haven't had precipitation for a few weeks up here, Big Bear Lake is benefiting from the snow melt in the surrounding mountains with water levels rising 5 inches just last week. The previous week saw a 4 inch rise proceeded by a week with a 3 inch rise. So it seems that the snow is melting and feeding the lake at an increasing rate.

Overall, at 11 feet 10 inches from full, the lake has gained 5 feet 1 inch from it's low point last December. The big question on everyone's mind is how much snow is left in the surrounding mountains and how much will the lake levels rise when it melts. It's a tricky question. But the shaded, north-facing south shore slopes are still visibly covered in snow and the sun exposed slopes are still producing runoff at impressive rates.

This year's above average precipitation levels seem to have had a positive impact on Big Bear lakefront home sales. I think the wet winter put people's fears of continued drought to rest as I have heard a more optimistic tone from prospective waterfront buyers recently.

In fact, 3 of the last 4 lakefront homes to have sold so far this year were shallow water and still do not have dock access. This exemplifies the buyer optimism I mentioned as people are speculating about higher lake levels resulting in significant price appreciation.

Predicting the weather or what the market will do next is tricky. But there's no reason to doubt people's optimism about both moving forward.