Most people see wildlife in Mammoth Lakes in the summer and fall, but the local fauna are around year-round. Mammoth Lakes is home to bears, coyotes, deer, mountain lions, and more. Keeping yourself safe and practicing good wildlife etiquette will help keep the animals safe.

We regularly hear about animals having to be put down because of humans intervening with Mother Nature. You might have heard about Yellowstone tourists putting a bison calf in their car or trying to ride a deer. And in California, wild animals are falling victim to death more because of access to food and garbage.

Bear Safety

The Town of Mammoth Lakes uses bear-proof dumpsters. If you’re using one, always be sure to clip the bear-resistant latch when you’re done. Don’t leave anything scented (even lotions, sunscreen, gum, mints, etc.) in your car — bears have great noses and have been known to pry car doors open to get to scented items. They can do quite a bit of damage once they’re inside your car too.

If you’re camping in the Eastern Sierra, you’ll need to properly stash your food and trash as bears and other animals are attracted to anything edible or smelly. Most established campgrounds in the Eastern Sierra have beer-proof storage boxes at each site. If you’re backpacking, you’ll need to take a bear-proof food canister with you. Always clean up and properly store food and garbage immediately after meals. Bears can smell food cooking from 3-4 miles away.

If you have children, teach them what to do if they encounter a bear. Never approach or touch a bear, even a bear cub. If you see a bear, don’t run. Instead, just let it be. If it sees you and still comes toward you, face the animal, make noise, and try to appear as large as possible. The black bears that call Mammoth home are typically afraid of people and prefer to leave you alone. If you see a bear cub, move on — you don’t want to be between a mother and her cub.

“There’s more misinformation about black bears than accurate information,” says Steve Searles, a local bear expert, in an article from a few years ago. 

Black bears subsist mostly on seeds, berries and other vegetarian items — don’t leave bird seed out as this is a major draw for them. They’re generally gentle creatures, and you’re much more likely to be struck by lightning than be attacked by a black bear. There aren’t any grizzly bears or brown bears in the Sierra Nevada, although the resident black bears may be brown or blonde in color. There’s no need to carry bear spray in this area, and it’s actually prohibited in Yosemite National Park and some other areas. The biggest concern with bears locally is their desire to get into your food.

Other Wildlife Safety

Photo by Josh Wray for Visit Mammoth

The Eastern Sierra is home to many mule deer, and you might see them while hiking or driving through the area. Keep an eye out for signs on Highway 395 about migrating deer. Drive extra cautiously and always keep your eyes on the road, especially when you see these signs. When hiking, remember that mule deer can be spooked easily, so give them plenty of space, and never try to touch or feed a deer.

In the high alpine, the Eastern Sierra is home to bighorn sheep, but these beautiful creatures are rarely spotted. If you see them, give them plenty of space too.

You’ll probably never see a mountain lion, but if you do, don’t run. The National Park Service has good information about mountain lion encounters. It’s much more likely that you’ll see a coyote. Leave coyotes alone and give them plenty of space, but if they approach you, make loud noises, and if you’re on skis or have poles, bang your poles together.


Most visitors and residents in Mammoth Lakes have no issues with wildlife. If you practice proper food storage and give wild animals plenty of space, they’ll happily coexist with us. Be sure to take a moment to appreciate a wildlife encounter if you have one!


More resources:

I work with a lot of people buying second homes or vacation homes in Mammoth Lakes. The question I get most often is “how do I find a good property management company?”

Whether you’re looking for someone to keep an eye on your home when you’re away or planning to rent your property to vacationers, finding a trustworthy and reputable property manager is a must. I always recommend setting up a meeting with potential property managers and asking these questions.

1. What percentage do you take for the management fee and what does it include?

Figuring out which property management company is “worth it” is a complicated process since they all do things a bit differently. Some will advertise a low fee but may “nickel and dime you” as things come up, so it can add up and be more expensive than a company with a higher fee up front. A company with a higher fee may include marketing, maintenance work, cleaning, and more. Be sure to ask what other charges you’ll face as an owner. Most property management companies will have pricing documentation you can read through to learn more.

2. How long is the contract term?

Your situation might change over time, so it’s good to know how long you’re locked in for. You might decide you want to manage the property yourself if you live in Mammoth Lakes, or you might want to move to a different company. Most property management companies work on annual contracts but include 30-day cancellation clauses. Be sure to ask about their cancellation policy if you need to leave the company before your contract is up.

3. How do I book my own stays?

Many property management companies in Mammoth Lakes will have some sort of online portal you can log into to book your own stay. This keeps everything orderly for you and the property manager. Since it’s your property, you can visit whenever you want, but it can be tricky if it’s already booked when you decide you want to come to Mammoth Lakes — especially during busy holiday times.

If the property management company will be handling all of the cleaning, figure out what the owner cleaning fee will be when you stay there. To make sure they maintain a specific cleaning standard, companies won’t usually allow you to clean the property on your own after using it.

4. What are your minimum requirements for stocking my property?

silverware in a drawer in a silverware divider

All property management companies have some requirements about what you have to have in your rental property. Visitors to Mammoth Lakes might book a condo or a home instead of a hotel room because of the kitchen and common area spaces, so having everything guests need is key. Your property management company will likely require a fully-stocked kitchen, but they may also require you have things like a hairdryer, an iron and ironing board, a flashlight and trash bags. Request a list from the companies you talk to. 

5. What kind of liability insurance do I need?

If you plan to rent your home to vacationers, you’ll need liability insurance. Your property management company will likely require proof of this as well, but it’s a good idea to ask them for their specific requirements. While you may have homeowners insurance already, this usually leaves coverage gaps when the property is used by vacationers. I recommend Mammoth Insurance to help you navigate your insurance needs for your vacation rental property.

6. What’s your maintenance policy?

Property management companies all vary in what they consider “normal wear and tear.” If you’re not careful, excessive maintenance expenses can fall to you. Ask the property management company up front what their maintenance policy is. Some will have policies that if it’s less than a certain amount, the company can repair it without seeking your permission. The goal in hiring a property management company is to reduce your stress and worry about the property, so the maintenance policy is important.

7. How do you capture the VRBO and Airbnb market?

Especially in the Mammoth Lakes vacation rental market, VRBO and Airbnb are huge traffic drivers. Many vacationers prefer to search these sites than those of local companies. Most property management companies in Mammoth Lakes have strategies to capture this market — they might even list their properties on these forums. Be sure to ask how they’re addressing this.

8. Are you local, regional, or national?

atlas map of the United States opened to a page where you can see the whole country

There are pros and cons to the size of the property management company you choose. National and regional companies likely have larger mailing lists and more robust marketing programs. Local companies may give you easier access to the owner or manager of the company if issues arise. As long as the company has multiple other properties in Mammoth Lakes, they should know the local area and have the tools to deal with whatever comes up. Whether they’re local or national, make sure they have a local contact for you and for guests.

9. What are your other properties like?

While Airbnb and VRBO capture a lot of the market, some vacationers are looking for a certain style of vacation rental. Some property management companies focus on luxury rentals, while others don’t have many requirements and offer all ranges of rental quality. Always ask what other properties the company manages. You can usually learn a lot about their other properties by searching their online listings.

10. Are you available 24/7?

Hiring a property management company should give you peace of mind. If you’re still on the hook to deal with emergencies, you might feel like you’re wasting your money. If you want to be fully hands-off with your vacation rental property, ask the company if they handle everything 24/7.


If you want to learn more about buying a vacation rental property in Mammoth Lakes, download my Ultimate Home Buyer’s Guide or contact me.


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Have you watched Marie Kondo’s hit Netflix series Tidying Up yet? Marie encourages her viewers to minimize their possessions and only keep the items that “spark joy” for them. Inspired by Marie, these organization tips will make your home life easier and can actually increase the value of your home.

Boost bathroom storage capacity.

When was the last time you cleaned out your bathroom cupboards? If it’s been a while, take everything out and consider each item. Toss any old or expired products. As for all those hotel soaps, shower caps and shampoos you’ve gathered over the years, donate them to your local homeless shelter. If your vanity has drawers, consider adding organizers for things like makeup and jewelry. You can install roll-out shelves or baskets in deep cabinets to maximize the space. As for the walls, consider mounting open shelves to store towels. A cabinet over the toilet can give additional room for supplies. All of these projects will give your bathroom a more custom feel, and minor bathroom remodeling projects tend to see a great return at resale.

Upgrade your laundry room.

Follow the same process in your laundry room — only keep what you actually use. Consider putting in a mix of cubbies and cabinets with doors so you can store detergents and other cleaning supplies. If you have space, a divided hamper or a nice set of laundry baskets can make the laundry process much simpler. Install a hanging rod or drying rack and a flat work surface for folding and ironing clothes. Let’s be honest, we all take a good look at the laundry room when shopping for a new home!

Fully utilize your basement or attic.

well organized jars of craft supplies including string and pencils

Basements and attics are notorious for becoming dumping grounds for clutter. First things first: do a thorough clean out of things you no longer need. If it’s not a family heirloom or memory, or if you haven’t used it in two years, donate it! Then think about how you can better use your basement space to meet your family’s needs. You could install cabinets and a table to make it into a craft room, or you could turn the space into a game room with a media center and ping-pong table. Add a cedar closet to your attic and use it as off-season storage space. Investing in your basement or attic will add more functional space for your family, but it can also deliver a solid return on investment when you sell your home.

Customize your closets.

I know, I know… I hate cleaning out my closet too! But doing this twice a year really does keep things more organized. Marie Kondo suggests creating a designated space for each type of clothing: high hanging rods for dresses and long jackets, lower rods for skirts and shirts, and shelves for folded clothes like jeans. Add racks for shoes, drawers for jewelry, hooks for hats, and shelves for handbags. A well-equipped closet can be a major draw for buyers — especially in Mammoth Lakes where everyone has tons of snow clothes and outdoor toys to store. It’ll make your life easier while also helping with resale value.

Install built-in bookcases and cabinets.

a pretty bookshelf well organized by color

Built-in furniture adds functionality and storage to a room while giving it a high-end look. Custom cabinets can be used in a living room to display media equipment and provide hidden storage. Built-in bookshelves can turn an empty room into a lovely office space. But remember not to go too custom — a design that only fits your taste can be a turn off to future buyers. Select standard sizes and classic finishes to appeal to a broad range of tastes.

Equip your garage.

Believe it or not, even if they’re fortunate enough to have a garage, some people in Mammoth Lakes don’t park their cars in their garages. The space can get filled up with snowmobiles, bikes, wood pellets or firewood. Consider adding organizational systems to keep your garage organized — hooks for hanging bikes, firewood holders or racks to stack pellets in, etc. A small rack to store yard tools can clear a lot of floor space, and a workbench lined with pegboard can keep tools neatly organized. Future buyers will want to see a garage space that serves as storage and a non-snowy parking place.

Cleaning and organizing your house is no fun, but the payoff is huge. It feels good to donate items to your local thrift store (I like Second Chance Thrift Shop and The Cast Off) — the proceeds from your donations will go to worthy causes and you’ll have an easier time navigating your space. PLUS you’ll be boosting your resale value in the meantime!


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From summer vacations to winter holidays, every season offers a great excuse to put off our to-do list. But neglecting home maintenance can be a major mistake.

Small problems can become big ones quickly and may be far more expensive to fix. Plus, properties that aren’t well-maintained can lose 10 percent of their appraised value. Especially in Mammoth Lakes where the snow, wind and sun can be hard on properties, year-round maintenance is crucial.

If you spend just a few hours each season maintaining your Mammoth Lakes home, you can actually increase its value by one percent annually. Plus, if you decide to sell, you won’t have a mile-long to-do list to get ready. Here’s what we suggest for maintaining your Mammoth Lakes home throughout the year:



granite domes in Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park


a view looking up at bright orange aspen trees in the fall with blue sky


a skier skis down a hill with a chairlift and snowy pine trees in the background

It doesn’t take much time to keep your Mammoth Lakes condo or house in good shape throughout the year. Take time each season to make a plan for the season ahead so you know what’s coming up and can budget accordingly.

Read more about owning a home in Mammoth Lakes.

My favorite thing about being a Mammoth Lakes realtor is getting to introduce people to their dream homes. When I meet a new client, I’m always reminded of my own search for a perfect home in Mammoth Lakes.

We bought our first Mammoth Lakes property in 2003. It was a second home for us. We loved visiting Mammoth Lakes, but we knew nothing about homeownership in a snowy mountain town.

From visiting over the years, we had a list of things we wanted: to be able to walk to the lift or gondola to go skiing, to have covered parking so we weren’t breaking our backs shoveling and to be able to rent it when we weren’t here. We were also looking for a turnkey property.

A spring view from a ski slope at Mammoth Mountain looking down at Eagle Lodge under the chairlift

Just like most potential buyers, we toured the town with a realtor. We ended up choosing a condo near Eagle Lodge. It was a great location with a beautiful view and lots of trees. My husband, John, wanted to sit on the deck and feel like he was in the mountains — it checked that box for him. It was a wonderful vacation home for us for many years.

When we made the leap to live here full time, the condo we bought in 2003 was suddenly too small. We ended up renting to see if we could really make it work living here full time. Living in Mammoth Lakes and visiting Mammoth Lakes are totally different. While renting, we were able to narrow down what we wanted in our next home:

A fall view of Snowcreek Golf Course with yellow trees and the Sherwin mountains behind

We found the perfect place for us—a newly constructed townhome in Snowcreek’s Creek House development. We have a two-car garage, just one set of stairs, a deck large enough for a BBQ, and a gas fireplace that I turn on with the press of a button. It feels like a dream come true.

When meeting with a new client, I always have them visualize what a property will look like in each season. I ask them what their partner or family is looking for—are they like John wanting to feel like they’re truly in the mountains, or are they dreaming of being neighbors with the chairlift? I tell them about my experience buying first as a second homeowner and then as a full-time resident and how I navigated the process.

And when we walk into the Mammoth Lakes home that happens to check all their boxes, the look on their face always reminds me of the excitement I felt when I found my own dream home.

Learn more about buying a home in Mammoth Lakes with my Ultimate Home Buyer’s Guide. Give me a call with any questions: (760) 914-4664.

Photos by Josh Wray for Visit Mammoth

  1. Update rain gutters: clogged gutters mean damage under roof tiles and along the foundation from improper drainage.  Clean them out often to prevent backups.
  2. New front doors and windows: a new entryway adds curb appeal, and energy efficient windows lower your heating and cooling bills.
  3. Re-caulk windows and doors: If you cannot afford to replace doors and windows, re-caulking will save hundreds of dollars in lost heat and air.  Caulk can harden, crack and shrink.
  4. Inspect and Repair the roof: check for ice, hail and water damage from winter.  Repairing minor damage now can save water damage later down the road.
  5. Schedule routine heating, ventilation and air conditioning maintenance: routine maintenance costs much less than emergencies down the road.
  6. Clean the dryer vent and check the dryer hose: a lint-filled dryer vent is not only not energy efficient but it is also a fire hazard.  The dryer lint can build up in the hose even if you clean out the lint trap after every load.
  7. Check the washing machine hoses: Washing machine hoses can crack over time, causing water damage, mold and more before being noticed.
  8. Install a new mailbox: A new mailbox not only adds curb-appeal, it can create a clean and welcoming look to the entrance.

If you would like a professional opinion about what could be enhanced or repaired on your property, give Sonja a call at 661-979-9000 or email her at [email protected].


Expect to see many of the same kitchen design preferences carry over into bathrooms this year, including two-tone cabinets, quartz countertops and brass fixtures.

  1. Neutral Tones

Neutral shades will continue to dominate in the master bathroom as homeowners seek a soothing and relaxing retreat atmosphere. But expect to see more options than just white. Shades of brown, grey, blue, green and tan will help to warm things up.

  1. Natural Elements

Natural materials are particularly hot right now in bathroom design. This includes the use of wood and stone on walls, cabinets, counters and back-splashes, as well as the incorporation of botanical design elements.

  1. Large Tiles

We expect to see a lot more large and slab-sized tiles in bathrooms, which have less grout so they are easier to clean and maintain. Wood-look porcelain tiles are also a favorite in wet areas, as they offer the warmth and rustic appeal of wood with the durability of tile.

  1. Stone Sinks

Sinks will continue to be an area where homeowners like to exhibit creativity, and hand-carved stone sinks are especially fashionable right now. These may be more suited to powder rooms, where functionality isn’t as crucial.

  1. Freestanding Tubs

There’s been a tub resurgence in bathroom design after years of preference for stand-alone showers. Modern tastes are gravitating toward freestanding tubs that serve as a showpiece for the bathroom.

  1. Smart Features

Smart technology has entered the bathroom with the addition of features like wireless shower speakers and high-tech toilets, as well as digital shower controls that automatically adjust to your preferences in temperature and spray intensity.


Style trends come and go, so don’t invest in the latest look unless you love it. That said, highly-personalized or outdated style choices can limit the appeal of your property for resale.

For major renovation projects, it’s always a good idea to stick to neutral colors and classic styles. It will give your remodel longevity and appeal to the greatest number of buyers when it comes time to sell. It will also give you flexibility to update your look in a few years without a total overhaul. Use non-permanent fixtures – like paint, furniture and accent pieces – to personalize the space and incorporate trendier choices.

If you’d like advice on a specific remodeling or design project, give Sonja a call at 661-979-9000 or email her at [email protected]. She is happy to offer insights and suggestions on how to maximize your return on investment and recommend local shops and service providers who may be able to assist you.


  1. Country Living –
  2. Elle Decor –
  3. Gates Interior Design –
  4. House Beautiful –
  5. Houzz –
  6. Kitchen and Bath Design News –
  7. Realty Times –
  8. Sebring Design Build –
  9. The Flooring Girl –
  10. Vogue –

While white kitchens will remain popular in 2018, expect to see more color this year in everything from cabinets to tile to appliances.

  1. Two-toned Cabinets

Two-toned cabinets are quickly overtaking the white-on-white look that has dominated kitchen design for the past few years. While white remains a classic, grey and bleached-wood cabinet variations are surging in popularity, along with darker neutrals like navy and green.

Kitchen design trends for 2018 

  1. Quartz Countertops

Granite reigned as the top countertop choice for many years, but quartz is now king. It’s highly durable, low-maintenance and comes in a wide variety of styles and colors. It’s also heat resistant, scratch resistant and non-porous (unlike granite and marble) so it doesn’t need to be sealed.

  1. Bold Backsplashes

After years of dominating backsplash design, the white subway tile is officially on its way out. Expect to see it replaced with more elaborate shapes, patterns, colors and textures. Tile that mimics the appearance of wood, concrete and wallpaper is also gaining in popularity.

Bold backsplashes

  1. Statement Sinks

While stainless steel and white porcelain are always safe bets, the trend is moving toward sinks that make more of a statement. Look for unexpected pops of color and materials like natural stone and copper. Touch-free faucets are expected to gain favor with homeowners this year, too.

  1. Brass is (Still) Back

Brass fixtures came back in a big way over the past couple of years and will continue to be a popular choice in 2018 along with matte black, black nickel, polished chrome and brushed nickel. Missing from the list? Rose gold, which is decidedly “out” this year.

multi-purpose islands and brass is back

  1. Multi-purpose Islands

Kitchen islands have evolved from simple prep-stations into the “workhorse” of the kitchen. Many feature sinks, built-in appliances and under-counter storage while also serving as a casual dining area. They have become the focal point of the kitchen, and we expect to see more of them in 2018 and beyond.

  1. Black Stainless Steel

Black stainless steel is the hot new finish option for appliances, and it’s hitting the market in a big way. It offers a cutting-edge look and is easier to keep clean than traditional stainless steel. However, it’s harder to match finishes amongst different brands, so it’s probably only feasible as part of a complete appliance package.

appliance garages

  1. Appliance Garages

Appliance garages are counter-level compartments designed to house small appliances like blenders, toasters and stand mixers. They make it convenient to have these items readily accessible, without the look of a cluttered counter.

If you’d like advice on a specific remodelling or design project, give Sonja a call at 661-979-9000, or email her at [email protected]! We’re happy to offer our insights and suggestions on how to maximize your return on investment and recommend local shops and service providers who may be able to assist you.


  1. Country Living –
  2. Elle Decor –
  3. Gates Interior Design –
  4. com –
  5. House Beautiful –
  6. Houzz –
  7. Huffington Post –
  8. Kitchen and Bath Design News –
  9. com –
  10. com –
  11. Realty Times –



Home Design Trends for 2018



We frequently get questions from clients who are taking on decorating and remodeling projects and want to ensure their dollars are invested wisely.


Which looks will last for years to come, and which ones will feel dated quickly? What colors and styles are most popular among buyers in our area? How can I add the most value to my home?


So we’ve rounded up some of the hottest trends in home design to help guide you through the process. Whether you’ve planned a simple refresh or a full-scale renovation, making smart and informed design choices will help you maximize your return on investment … and minimize the chance of “remodeler’s remorse” down the road.





While 2017 was all about millennial pink, brass fixtures and bright white kitchens, this year we expect to see a move toward warmer, cozier elements throughout the home.


  1. Warm Colors


A cool color scheme has dominated home design in recent years, but this year warm neutrals like brown and tan are back, along with rich jewel tones. While the pastel craze of last year is still hanging on, expect to see alternative color palettes featuring deep, saturated shades of red, yellow, green and navy. Grey will remain popular, but in warmer tones, often referred to as “greige.”


Warm Colors


  1. Cozy Elements


Along with warmer colors, we can expect to see a shift from stark, modern design to cozier looks. Velvet upholstery, woven textures and natural elements, like wood and stone, will heat things up this year.


  1. Mixed Metals


It used to be considered gauche to mix finishes, however the look of mixed metals will be very big in 2018. Brass will continue to trend, along with matte black and classics like polished chrome and brushed nickel.



  1. Bold Patterns


Expect to see a lot of bright, bold patterns in the form of geometric shapes and graphic floral prints. These will be featured on everything from furniture to throw pillows to tile.


Bold Patterns


  1. Natural Elements


Look for the use of natural elements throughout the home, including wood, stone, plants, flowers and grass. Botanical patterns will also be seen in prints, wallpaper and upholstery. Concrete accents will complement these additions in an effort to bring the essence of the outdoors inside the home.


Natural elements


  1. Feature Walls


Also called an accent wall, a feature wall is one that exhibits a different color or design than the other walls in the room. Expect to see an increased use of feature walls showcasing rich paint colors, bold patterned wallpaper, and textures brought in through millwork and shiplap.


  1. Statement Lighting


Lighting will take center stage with distinctive fixtures, including local artisan and vintage pendants and chandeliers. And smart lighting technology will enable homeowners to customize their lighting experience based on time of day, activity and mood.


Statement Lighting


  1. Hardwood Floors


Hardwood floors will continue to dominate the market. The trend is toward either very dark stains paired with light-colored walls or light stains with darker walls. Greyish tones will remain popular, as will matte finishes, which are easier to maintain than high gloss. Expect to see frequent use of wider and longer wood planks, as well as distressed and wire-brushed finishes, which add texture and dimension.


  1. Smart Homes


Everything is getting “smarter” in homes, from locks and lights to thermostats and appliances. And with devices like Google Home and Amazon Alexa, you can control many of these with voice activation from a central hub. We will see continued integration of and advancements in smart-home technology in 2018.


To discuss your current home needs, contact Sonja at (661) 979-9000 or email her at [email protected].

Reasons For Installing Smart Devices,, Mammoth Lakes

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