The Lake Officially Opens April 1st!


The lake officially opens April 1st….below is a quick article from Kathie Portie of the Big Bear Grizzly….the Marinas are ready!

Marinas Ready to Set Sail

Spring is here and the lake is waking up. Temperatures are rising and the fish are starting to move. The Big Bear Municipal Water District is getting ready for anglers and boaters to take advantage of the great weather.

The MWD planted 10,000 pounds of baby trout on March 19 and is busy building a new and improved larger fish cage to grow the next shipment of fish from California Fish and Wildlife.

Public launch ramps are also gearing up for official opening. The Carol Morrison Public Launch, more commonly known as the East Ramp, will open for early season hours daily beginning Wednesday, April 1. Hours are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. The Duane Boyer Public Launch, or West Ramp, remains closed until May 7.For more information, call the East Ramp at 909-866-5200 or the MWD at 909-866-5796.

Following suit, several marinas have already opened or are planning to open in the next week. Shelly Fengler, owner of Big Bear Marina, is excited about the upcoming season. “Our goal is to open April 1,” Fengler said. “It will be a soft opening because it’s on a Wednesday. But we will have boats available to rent by that weekend.”

Rental options at Big Bear Marina include pontoons, fishing boats, kayaks and paddleboards. “We have fuel available for purchase, fishing licenses and a full pro shop,” Fengler said.
Big Bear Marina is at 500 Paine Court, Big Bear Lake. For more information, call 909-866-3218.

Captain John’s Fawn Harbor & Marina also opens April 1 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Manager Serena Saunders said Captain John’s has the largest fleet of nonmotorized rentals including canoes, kayaks and paddleboards. Boat tours are available on Captain John’s special electric boats. Call 909-866-6478 for more information. Captain John’s Fawn Harbor & Marina is at 39369 North Shore Drive in Fawnskin.

Several marinas already open include Pine Knot Landing and Holloway’s Marina. The Miss Liberty Tour Boat has run all winter at Pine Knot Landing.Pine Knot Landing is at 439 Pine Knot Ave., Big Bear Lake. For more information, call 909-878-5750.Holloway’s Pirate Ship is scheduled to set sail for boat tours Saturday, March 28, according to employee Maria Da Re.  Holloway’s is at 398 Edgemoor Road, Big Bear Lake. For more information, call 909-866-5706.

Pleasure Point Marina will be available for boat and slip rentals the week of April 6. Office manager Jesi Pujda said the marina is also in the process of arranging a partnership with a new charter fishing concession.

Pleasure Point Marina is at 603 Landlock Landing, Big Bear Lake. For more information, call 909-866-2455.

Warm Winter Affecting Lake Levels in Big Bear Lake

Grout Bay january 3 2014

Here’s a quick article from Katherine Davis-Young of the Big Bear Grizzly regarding the lack of precipitation this Winter…not a big surprise, but it’s definitely a concern heading into the Summer boating season.

Water Woes

Warm Winter Leaves Lake Levels Low for Summer

Water in Big Bear Lake evaporated as much this February as it does in an average June, according to Big Bear Municipal Water District General Manager Mike Stephenson. That’s something Stephenson, who has worked for the district since 1996, has not seen before.

“I’ve seen the levels off, but not this much in a February,” Stephenson said. “February was extremely hot, warm, windy and dry. The evaporation just went crazy.”

During an average February, about 200 acre-feet of water will evaporate from the lake. This year, it was closer to 1,200, Stephenson said.

“It was scary because when you start getting summer-like evaporation in the winter, you say ‘jeez, where are we going to end up this year,’” Stephenson said.

The lake is about 11 feet down from full, and Stephenson expects it could dip about 3 feet lower throughout summer and fall if there are no major weather events to bring more water into the lake. Big Bear Lake did receive more precipitation this November, December and January than the previous winter, according to National Weather Service records, but the lake level is still lower than it was at this time last year.

“Just because you receive precipitation, it doesn’t mean it will make it to the lake,” Stephenson said, adding that the past three years have had among the lowest amounts of inflow into the lake for any three-year period on record.

The lake fared a little better in March than February, Stephenson said. Cooler temperatures and a little snow helped slow the rate of evaporation. Lake levels steadied for a few days as snow melted, though they are beginning to decline again. Stephenson doesn’t expect to see much more runoff making it into the lake without more precipitation.

“There’s nothing left in the watershed,” Stephenson said. “(The rain and snow that fell this winter) already pretty much went into the ground or it’s already in the lake.” He added that the unmelted snow still on Big Bear’s ski slopes is “not enough to matter.”

Right now it would take more than 9 billion gallons of water to fill the lake, Stephenson said.

Even in the worst drought in California history, things could be worse. Stephenson said last year the MWD spent more than $1.2 million on its agreement to buy water for Bear Valley Mutual Water Company rather than releasing water from the lake to the company. That has prevented the lake levels from falling much lower. “Without that agreement we’d be in really, really big trouble right now,” Stephenson said.

Stephenson also pointed out that, the lake has been lower than its current level in years past, and the local economy has made do.

“I’m actually not nervous. The lake will recreate wonderfully, the launch ramp will be in full operation, the marinas aren’t going to suffer a lot,” Stephenson said.

Serena Saunders, of Captain John’s Fawn Harbor & Marina, said she will likely have to move docks out farther, but she plans to just keep following the water. “That’s really the only thing we can do,” Saunders said. “It’s tough, but it’s a cycle that’s happened in Big Bear before and we’ve made it through. We’ll still be open and ready for business. This summer will be just as fun as any other summer,” she said.

Leo McCarthy, general manager and harbor master at Pine Knot Marina, said the business will definitely be making adjustments, but said, “It’s a crapshoot, you never know what the weather will bring.”

Stephenson estimates it would take about two more dry years before the lake dipped 17 feet below full, like it did in 2004. Until that happens, he said he’ll stay optimistic.

“There’s still a lot of lake out there,” he said.

Trout Derbies on Hiatus

Madison fishing

Trout Derbies on Hiatus

Written by Kathie Portie of the Big Bear Grizzly

Big Bear’s spring outdoor sports calendar was lightened considerably this past week. Two of the Valley’s largest trout tournaments—the May Trout Classic and Fishin’ for 50K—will not take place in 2015.

The Jim Hall Memorial May Trout Classic is the oldest and most successful of the two tournaments, having enjoyed 32 years of existence. The 2015 tourney was slated for May 16-17 until event organizers decided to pull the plug, at least for this year.

In a letter from event organizers, Jason Hall explained the factors that led to the decision. “… we find ourselves in litigation over an incident that occurred in the 2013 May Trout Classic,” Hall wrote. “Our current insurance company, Scottsdale, has still not made a decision as to whether or not they will defend us. They have allowed many deadlines to pass to respond to the court, and we have had to retain our own attorney at the expense of the Trout Classic. This may eventually deplete our startup funds irreparably.”

Hall went on to say that they have been unable to secure new insurance at an affordable price in time for the 2015 event. “The mission of the May Trout Classic has been to maintain Big Bear Lake as a premier trout fishery by planting trophy sized fish each year,” Hall wrote. “We are making every effort to resume this event for 2016.”

“This is not a goodbye, but just so long for a while,” Hall concluded.

According to the Big Bear Events Resource Office, the May Trout Classic contributed between $85,000 and $100,000 to the local economy in 2012 and 2013. According to Rick Bates, Events Resource Office director, Fishin’ for 50K primarily attracted visiting anglers who contributed an estimated $210,000 into the local economy in 2014.

Fishin’ for 50K was scheduled for early June, sponsored by the Big Bear Visitor’s Bureau, formerly known as the Big Bear Lake Resort Association. According to Visitors Bureau spokesman Dan McKernan, the organization is heavily involved with the Amgen Tour of California Big Bear Time Trial in May and the Outdoor Writers Association of California Conference in June. Adding the trout derby responsibilities was proving difficult to manage. But it’s not the only reason the trout derby is going on hiatus, McKernan said.

“We need to take a rest,” McKernan said. “We’re going to freshen it up for 2016. We want to give a fresh new look and new focus for next year.” The plan is to bring it back in 2016, he said.

Local marinas are expected to feel the pinch. Bait, gear, licenses and boat rentals are items visiting anglers often purchase from the local marinas. Leo McCarthy, manager of Pine Knot Landing, said the bulk of his business comes during the boating season rather than from fishing tournaments, but could see that it would affect others such as Big Bear Marina. Attempts to contact other marinas by The Grizzly were unsuccessful as most offices are closed until April.

Anglers may feel the pinch as well. The Big Bear Municipal Water District depends on tournament entry fees to help with fish plants. MWD General Manager Mike Stephenson said it’s probably too late to get anything organized to replace the two lost tourneys for the spring. When asked if the MWD could perhaps host a tourney, Stephenson said it’s something he hopes the MWD board will consider, or at least discuss the options.

Several other tournaments are still on the 2015 calendar including Aaron’s Bass Tournament, the Carp RoundUp and the TroutfesT.

“We still have the October TroutfesT holding on,” Stephenson said.“They are working on their paperwork right now.”

1st Quarter Big Bear Lakefront Update

As we look at sales in 2015 I think it’s important to take a look at the fluctuating water levels along Big Bear Lake.  I believe this is having an impact in the number of sales (or lack thereof) along the lakefront in Big Bear.

Big Bear Lake Levels

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 4.22.26 PM

As you can tell from the graph above,  we are currently at the lowest level in about a decade (purple line).  The measurement as of March 9th, 2015 was 61’5” at Big Bear Dam.  That’s 10’10” below full!

But I wouldn’t fret.  If you look at 2005 (blue line), our lake level went up from 59.86 feet, to 70.07 feet in just 6 months….so  eventually it will go back up and it might only take one good wet season.  It doesn’t look like it’s going to happen this year but I think we can all agree that it would be nice to get some precipitation and fill up the lake.

Now let’s talk about sales in 2015.  Right now we have 14 lakefront homes currently on the market.  We have 2 closed sales in the first quarter of 2015, and we have 3 pending sales.  With such low inventory and low water levels I anticipate fewer sales in 2015.  The buyers are out there, but they seem to be on the fence…waiting for the “right” property to come on the market.

Big Bear Lakefront Home at                                  39274 Waterview                                                   (Sale #1 in 2015)39274 Waterview

I really liked the open living room on this one.  Huge native stone fireplace and there was nice lake views from every room.  The one drawback was the access in and out off of Waterview.  It’s a shared driveway where the neighbors share the cost of plowing.  Difficult to maneuver even a mid-sized SUV in and out.   Below are the statistics of this lakefront sale.

Information Regarding this Lakefront Home Sale at 39274 Waterview

List Price: $1,290,000
Sales Price: $1,255,000
List Price to Sales Price Ratio: 97%
Days On Market: 371
Sold Price per Square Foot: $440.66
Sale Date: 2/20/2015

Photos of this Lakefront Home at             39274 Waterview

2140081_3 2140081_5 2140081_4 2140081_6 2140081_7 2140081_8 39274 Waterview

Big Bear Lakefront Home at                         39537 Lake Drive                                                      (Sale #2 in 2015)

39537 Lake Drive

This property was all about the outdoor living.  It had a beautiful lush lawn running down to the lake.  Nicely landscaped with a spa on the back patio.  I image that’s what the new owners fell in love with this lakefront property.

The inside of the home was a very “unique” floor plan…meaning it didn’t flow like your newer constructions of today with the massive great rooms.  This was a little more choppy.  The seller did make some nice upgrades.  New roof, new interior, new bathrooms, new kitchen and cork flooring.

Information Regarding this Lakefront Home Sale at 39537 Lake Drive

List Price: $1,350,000
Sales Price: $1,295,000
List Price to Sales Price Ratio: 96%
Days On Market: 174
Sold Price per Square Foot: $522.18
Sale Date: 3/13/2015

Photos of this Lakefront Home at             39537 Lake Drive

2142104_3 2142104_4 2142104_5 2142104_8 2142104_7 2142104_6 2142104_2

If you’re in the market for a lakefront home in Big Bear, feel free to contact me.  I’m a full time real estate agent that has been studying the lakefront market for more than a decade and am passionate about helping my clients.  I look forward to hearing from you.


Getting a Loan for your Lakefront Property in Big Bear? Make sure you’re prepared for possible delays


Below is an informative article I recently read from the LA Times regarding a tweak in Fannie Mae’s appraisal process which they will be implementing over the next couple of weeks.  Critics claim that adding an additional step to the appraisal process will; a) lead to more expensive appraisals; and b) favor lower valued comparables which will complicate the process and make it harder for an appraiser to justify the value.  It might not seem like a big deal but with low inventory and fewer sales along the lake it could pose a problem if you plan on getting a loan for your lakefront purchase.  As always, the key is being informed and being proactive with your lender.

New Fannie Mae Program Could Bust Deals, Appraisers Say

Could a controversial new program set for launch nationwide this month by giant mortgage investor Fannie Mae lead to slower and costlier home sale closings and more disputes over prices between sellers and buyers — busting deals when the appraised value comes in below what the parties agreed to in the contract?

Fannie Mae doesn’t think so, but many appraisers are worried that the new program might mess up the marketplace. Here’s a quick overview of the issue and what it could mean to you as a seller or buyer:

Starting Jan. 26, Fannie Mae plans to offer mortgage lenders access to proprietary home valuation databases that they can use to assess the accuracy of and risks posed by the reports submitted by appraisers. The Fannie data will flag possible errors in the appraiser’s work before the lender commits to fund the loan, score the appraisal for overall risk of inaccuracy and may provide as many as 20 alternative “comps” — properties in the area that have sold recently and are roughly comparable to the house the lender is considering approving for financing but were not used by the appraiser.

Lenders can then forward Fannie’s alternative comps and risk scores to the appraiser or the management company that hired the appraiser requesting explanations and changes to the appraisal.

Professional appraisers rely on comps as key indicators for value. If houses “A” and “B” in the neighborhood sold within the last three months for $250,000 and are similar in size and features to the house under consideration by the lender, the appraisal should come in close to that number, absent any dramatic recent marketplace changes.

But if the appraiser values the house at the contract price of $300,000 agreed by the seller and buyer, the valuation may be judged too high. Excessive valuations create the risk of future losses to lenders and investors if the borrower defaults and the house goes to foreclosure.

On its face, the new Fannie program appears unassailable. Lenders and investors have an inherent right to be sure the appraisals they use for their funding decisions are accurate. If Fannie has developed a high-tech tool to help lenders spot risky appraisals upfront, where’s the problem?

Start with delays to closings and higher costs.

Appraisers say if they have to justify piecemeal why they chose the comps for their valuation rather than those selected by Fannie’s computers, it will add days — a week or more in extreme cases — to closing times. Meanwhile, sellers and buyers who had planned on dates for moving may suddenly find themselves knocked off track because the appraisal report was flagged. Realtors’ commission payouts also will be delayed.

Mike Turner, an appraiser in Northridge, told me it will be “an utter waste of time” if he has to explain point by point why he didn’t use the comps supplied by Fannie.

Pat Turner, an appraiser in Richmond, Va., and no relation to Mike, told me appraisers will have to raise their fees to compensate for the additional time.

“You think I’m going to do this for free?” he asked. “Hell no!” He predicted that his per-job fee could jump $150 to $200 or more simply because of Fannie’s new program — all paid for by consumers at settlement.

Another problem: Fannie Mae won’t give appraisers access to the “black box” databases it uses to produce risk-rating scores. A national petition sponsored by the Illinois Coalition of Appraisal Professionals is now circulating, demanding transparency.

Critics such as Mike Turner charge that Fannie’s data will not be able to recognize differences between adjacent neighborhoods — a key factor in valuations — because it is based on census tract groupings, which may include mixes of lower-priced and higher-priced homes from different neighborhoods. He believes that the risk-rating system inevitably will be biased toward lower-priced comparables — something he says appraisers “will figure out quickly” — and will therefore reward appraisers who choose less costly properties for their comps.

“Lower-risk comps will tend to kill deals,” he predicts, forcing sellers and buyers into needless disputes when appraisals come in below the agreed contract price.

Fannie says appraisers’ concerns are overblown and that if widespread problems arise it will make adjustments.

Andrew Wilson, a Fannie spokesman, denied that the system will be biased to the downside.

“It’s going to flag mistakes,” he said, “and frankly everybody should want that.”

Cities Where The Housing Market Heats Up in the Fall

Fall in Big Bear

Quick article written by Katie Morell from regarding the vacation home market and specifically Big Bear.  I’ve noticed an uptick in sales this past month..I’m guessing it’s a combination of lower interest rates, the announcement of Big Bear Mountain Resorts (Snow Summit and Bear Mountain) being sold to Mammoth Mountain, and the time of year.

The start of the slow season for home search in most of the country began last month. But autumn is prime time for shopping in certain regions, mostly vacation areas in the mountains and forests.

House hunting is largely considered a seasonal sport, with springtime ranking as the best time to play. March typically kicks off the busy season, which extends through Labor Day, and is when the largest number of buyers circle, and the most homes go up for sale.

But depending on where you are house hunting, you may not realize that autumn can be an excellent time to buy and sell. Instead of slowing down in the fall, many regions of the country buck the national trend and experience high levels of activity, according to a new report on the seasonality of house hunting. The research reveals the cities where home buying and selling peaks, as well as significantly slows, during this time of year.

Fall Slow Down

Home shopping majorly slows in many warm climates and beach areas during the fall months. For example, in September and October Hawaii and Florida see a 10% dip below their annual averages. When looking at major metro areas, search activity drops the most in the South and Southwest. In the Cape Coral/Fort Myers, Florida, area, for example, it declines 18% in September and October compared to the annual average. Searches plummet 12% in Austin, Texas, and Phoenix, Arizona. In Charleston, South Carolina, hunting goes down 11%.

Big vacation destinations that see search activity slow include Punta Gorda, Naples/Marco Island and Key West.

The study also found that college towns have some of the lowest rates in the country for home searching during the autumn season – making it all the more important to lock in your housing before classes begin. College Station/Bryan, Texas, Columbia, Mo., and Iowa City, Iowa, are three university towns that see a big reduction in activity during this time of year.

Bucking the Trend

There are several areas of the country where activity actually picks up in the fall, and autumn is the busy season. These regions are typically near ski resorts in mountain and forest areas.

The county of Lincoln, NM, which is close to winter resort Ski Apache, sees a 16% jump in search activity during the fall when compared with the annual average. The area around Ellsworth, ME, known for a fun winter carnival, boasts 13% more searches.

Big Bear/Lake Arrowhead, a ski region located east of Los Angeles, also has a high number of house hunters in the fall, presumably preparing themselves for fun weekend days on the slopes and dinners by bustling fireplaces.

Other parts of the country don’t necessarily see a large increase in the fall, but instead chug along at their same springtime pace. This pattern emerges in some New England metro areas, including Peabody, Mass., and Worcester, Mass. Search activity in San Francisco also doesn’t change much in the fall, possibly because it includes some of the warmest months for the City by the Bay.


Replace the Shake: New Funds Available to Bring Roofs into Compliance

Wood Shake Roof
Wood Shake Roof

A quick and informative article from our local radio station (KBHR 93.3fm) regarding the wood shake replacement program.  See below.

We hear a lot about maintaining “defensible space” around our mountain homes for fire protection–and rightly so–but it’s only part of the picture. Besides the presence of burnable vegetation immediately adjacent to buildings, the ignitability of a home also depends on its roofing materials. In one study, the Stanford Research Institute found that 95 percent of homes with both nonflammable roofs and adequate vegetation clearance survived a wildfire.

In 2008, the City of Big Bear Lake declared that any structure with a wood shake or shingle roof would be considered a public nuisance. Replacing wooden roofs is expensive, but federal and state grants helped local property owners reduce the number of dangerous buildings from 525 to just 73 by last year.

Earlier this year, the California Office of Emergency Services notified City officials that an additional $150,000 would be available to help the remaining property owners take this important safety measure. On September 22, the Big Bear Lake City Council and the Fire Protection District worked out the details:

1).  All eligible property owners will be contacted by phone then mailed a certified letter containing a new grant application that states the offer and limitations;

2).  The homeowners will then have four weeks to apply for the grant funds; and

3).  The funds will be equally distributed to the eligible applicants who apply

Any questions can be directed to (909) 866-5832.

Related Articles:

Does your Big Bear Lake Cabin have a Wood Shake Roof? -The Tim Wood Group 1/4/2011