About Alan Ball

Over 30 years in real estate and related business in Santa Fe, NM.

Every dog has his day

…said someone, once upon a time. I am not going to research the origination of that saying, but it sounds like something Mark Twain or Will Rogers would have said. Or possibly Richard Nixon. And so we find ourselves in the third quarter of the year with continued improvement in sales results and still very reasonable interest rates. The town is heaving with visitors and activity, although most Realtors I know want more showings on their listings. I guess I do also, because homes need to be viewed before they will be purchased. Where to begin? When Amazon starts selling homes from their website, then we will know this dog had his day.

Look at the numbers in the spreadsheets available on the left side of these pages. In all price ranges, the average months to sell has dropped from 9.68 to 7.38 in just the last year. In the popular one half to one million range, the drop was more dramatic, going from 15.46 months on average a year ago to 10.56 months on average now. The absorption rate, which is what we call that calculation, is faster when inventory is lower and sales are up; both of which have happened just since last year. This is a trend line that I have consistently been tracking since we found ourselves in the gutter after the bubble burst. You know that bubble? The bubble that had many believing homes never go down in value and often go up by double digits every year. Everyone was wrong. Competition existed on who saw the crash coming first, but nobody escaped without serious damage. Some are still in recovery. Just now we can say we have almost reached the level of activity we saw prior to the crash and that bursting bubble. Only this time we are on a solid foundation as to value instead of seeing high appreciation unsupported by the large majority of sales. If you spend $750,000 on a home today, it is not likely to go down in value in the near future, unless we are in a nuclear war with seas rising a foot a year and anarchy is the law of the streets. Will it go up in value? Maybe someday, but that depends on you the owner.

Fears of overspending on a home should be all but erased, although it’s still possible to pay too much. No question there are plenty of homes listed for sale where the asking price exceeds the likely final sales price. But buyers have become extremely price aware that price has to be resolved first, then the other issues (location, condition, style) can fall quickly into place. All the sayings about there being a home for every buyer and a seat for every butt will be tested as we move forward with less inventory and a fairly strong influx of buyers. Some buyers become disenchanted once they examine our metropolis and others feel the prices are not justified. But some just have to have it as their own. And we can accommodate those newcomers. Changes happen slowly in an area with such long history. Affordable housing has been a headline seeking a response since I came here in the early 1980s. And likely before that. We still have that problem; witness all the manufactured and mobile homes in every rural quadrant of Santa Fe County and beyond. Last I heard, about 50% of all homes in New Mexico were not site built, but were moved onto the site on a trailer.

This market is healthy, wealthy and wise, to coin another phrase. Or like an old boss of mine (while I lived in Denver) said of himself, “fat, dumb and happy”. Those are things one could aspire to, I suppose.

Get your house while you can, while there is an inventory to choose from. The builders we need to build homes are trying hard to risk speculative home starts and I hope they are amply rewarded. We need more of those in all price ranges. In the meantime, learn your dog some new tricks.

The cat wearing the hat

Your time spent online is yours alone, taking advantage of all the sources and distractions available. This can include reading current news stories, fake or otherwise. It could be sports scores or it could be health advice and new developments in human happiness. A cure for insomnia and relief for those with ingrown toe nails is out there also. Shopping can make you feel better sometimes. You might have to dig for a while or drill deeper than you thought at first, but sooner or later you can find almost anything you want to find on the WWW. Have dinner shipped to your doorstep. I will come by to dine with you.

If you have children and a spouse, and/or friends you connect with daily, its possible your online addiction could limit how much you have to give to those relationships. Maybe they are supporting your habit until you wise up and start participating in life with them again. Online addiction might be only surpassed by opioid addictions. Possibly the others are just as addicted and have not yet realized it; too distracted in their own way to notice your absence and fried brain and bloodshot eyes.

At times, I don’t want to look at the screen, but am willing to listen to the audio of an interview from a TV show, or a TED talk or podcast that dips into a subject of interest to me. Closing ones eyes can feel so liberating in a time of device screen paralysis. Unplugging from the short term pleasure of the skimpy rewards that being online gives you is not easy. I dropped off of Facebook months ago, after many more months of almost no activity or visits. Too many posts of kittens? Yes and too many nonsensical rants about Amurica and who has the right to believe what. I admit to getting news briefs from Twitter, in bites I can digest and at a time I want to take them in.

If I were a video or digital picture artist there are more venues than there are grains of sand. I could post a shot of each piece of toast I consume, with butter or not. I could post pix of my drive to my office, my walk from the parking lot to the office building, and my coworkers standing in my office door complaining about their current state of affairs. It might be fun to share photos of places I have been if only I were a more accomplished artist with a camera. I have photos of beautiful sandy beaches, castles on hilltops, amazing historic ruins only recently excavated, a beach wedding service, a farmers market in a foreign city, plus the selfies with me in all manner of dress and mood. How much fun can a person have?

In words it is left to the reader to paint the picture with a push and a tug from the writer. I write about real estate in this blog, touching on social issues that affect real property directly or indirectly. I occasionally rant about the things I see going on, but also realize if I rant then you are ranting too. Send me yours if it will balance things out between us. Words and numbers are the primary focus of my blog and I hope those numbers are easy to understand and useful to you. They continue to improve just a little bit each month and our residential real estate market in Santa Fe has solid footing and is almost completely finished clearing out the deadwood of foreclosures and short sales. The days of the super bargain are probably gone, even though those were not really bargains after all.

How many calls have I gotten from someone who sees a pretty photo of the front of a home that is listed at $220.000 with over 2000 square feet and 4 bedrooms plus a garage? Why is it so cheap? Well, the actual condition of the property is why. When you see a home in our MLS database that looks too good to be true, it has probably already been picked over by many people with similar ideas. How can I buy this and fix it up a little and flip it for a quick profit? An example where there was enough profit for two buyers went as follows:  First buyer purchased out of foreclosure around $120K and did minor touch up and painting. Sold it for $150K in a couple of months. Then Second buyer did more work to the home, leased it out for a couple of years and then sold it for $215K. Two parties made a few dollars on that one property. Today it is likely worth $250K and might be sold for that if the current owners wanted to sell.

So the cat with the hat is fun and entertaining. So are the Epic Fail clips. Reading Paul Krugman opinion columns online can be educational. Observing the White House roller coaster would be a hoot if it was not so disturbing. Seeing how your stocks are doing is fun as can be lately as the stock market breaks new ground almost daily. And seeing what your neighbor’s house is selling for is also interesting. Focus on what sells, not what is for sale. A for sale home priced at $500K does not inform you nearly as much as the home down the street that sold last month for $445K. Or the one around the corner that sold in May for $467K. Asking price is a suggestion. No more no less. The owner suggests your written offer to purchase should match the asking price or come as close to that number as possible in order for them to respond to the offer in a meaningful way. Ignoring an offer is also meaningful but in a different way.

Santa Fe sellers still collectively hold out a candle of hope that their home will sell quickly and for full price. But history, recent history being the only type that matters here, shows only the lower end price range homes in and around Santa Fe sell quickly and for full or almost full price. Why do other markets do things differently? In a recent referral of a listing ($280K range) in a Phoenix suburb, the broker I contacted did extensive market research and had the sellers do some work to the home before marketing it. Then the first day it was for sale was an advertised open house and 30 people came. Four offers came out of those visits and the one that won the bidding war paid about $11,000 more than asking price. The home closed on time and everyone was happy.

What is the difference between that market and ours? Here the seller and listing broker will price the home somewhere between 3% and 12% above what it will likely sell for. Then they battle to get people in the home and interested in the property. Time goes by and the broker and seller discuss a price reduction. When that hits the internet there is a flurry of activity on the home; some showings and some phone calls with questions about details of the home. But no offer comes and so after a few more months, another price reduction is entered into the system and another flurry of activity starts. Each time the new price is entered, a new group of prospects shows up online or in person. Once the asking price gets really close to the eventual sales price, then negotiations begin and serious contract preparation commences. A meeting of the minds occurs and escrow begins. Once all issues are resolved the closing can occur. And everyone is happy we hope. But maybe the seller waiting say nine months to sell and could have received the same net proceeds in two months had the first asking price been closer to the actual value. And we know that the actual value is what someone will pay for it, not what the seller has invested in it or what they hope to get. I hope to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower someday but I am OK if it does not happen. Sellers maybe should find a way to be OK with a faster sale instead of the same results after many months of anxious waiting and blaming the listing broker. It takes an honest assessment of the market and a Realtor willing to tell the truth to the seller.

Some sellers are not in a rush. Those people have alternative motivations and timelines. They might have $1,200,000 into a property and have already bitten several bullets to get the asking price down to $950K, while in everyone’s heart the final sold price will be closer to $850K. Is this normal for our market? Yes it is. Many examples are out there that are similar to the above recap. A buyer’s task is to separate out the highly motivated sellers from the ones that are just testing the market. Like the wolf going after the slow and slightly lost calf in Yellowstone, buyers will find the seller that wants to make a deal today and is not willing to wait 6 months. If you want to be that seller, that buyers surround and attack, price is your primary weapon. Price it to sell or price it to sit and look pretty. You can find your place in a magazine and wish they used different photos or you can be at the Bank depositing your sale proceeds.

When I get a cat I am going to get him a hat. Until then thanks for stopping by this blog site and feel free to use the statistics with proper attribution. You can disagree or you can do what many others do, use this information as if its your own. Then get a good nights sleep. And turn off your phone.

Where are you going?

Predictions are risky and can be very embarrassing if you are wildly incorrect. But they are free to all comers. Anyone can predict the sky will fall or who will win the next election. There is not really a penalty for being wrong, is there? I will tell you where we are going if you promise not to remind me when later it is determined that I was wrong in my predictions. We have a deal?

Santa Fe real estate will continue to be a fairly good bargain when compared with many resort and historically significant cities in the Southwestern US. While Santa Fe residential real estate might be considered expensive compared to other NM cities, it is not at all like other NM cities, so direct comparison is not always helpful.

We will continue to have a shortage of newly built quality homes for sale while the dance of fiscally healthy home builders and construction lenders keeps spec home building artificially low. There may be barely enough inventory under $500K to keep abreast of demand, but so few new homes are being built in the upper price ranges that the choices for a buyer are limited to someone else’s idea of luxurious living. Or a ‘new to Santa Fe’ buyer could choose to build what they want, as many do after looking at the choices.

Water will still be a precious commodity for all of us anywhere near Santa Fe. This is true of the entire Colorado Plateau and east to Texas. We will experience ongoing drought conditions and water conservation will be more important than ever, as newcomers try to find their place in the City Different. Alternative energy sources will increase in usage and homes will increasingly be powered by sunlight. Geothermal and wind generated energy should also prosper. While our public electric utility tries to limit the acceptance of solar energy to replace their coal burning contracts, the public will demand it both for cost and the demonstrable effect on our climate.

This area will continue to struggle to convince its young people to stick around as the bling and glitter of big cities will still be a strong lure. Until we have free city-wide high-speed internet and more affordable housing for young adults, we will have a net loss of census numbers in our population of residents between 20 and 40. The effect of  the aging of our population will make the gap between the haves and the have-nots even wider. Born here all my life citizens will see more and more money flow into the community for the sole use of the wealthy second home buyers and residents that dip their toes in the water but do not become immersed in Santa Fe. They will bring it but not really spend it here. We will always have good choices for fine dining and luxury lodging for visitors yet Santa Feans with jobs will have to pay for parking and fail to get decent health care from most employers. Being the land of manana means it will not likely turn into a major conflict here, but the divide will be felt acutely by those getting by with less.

Your wait person at the next restaurant you dine at will still have a higher university degree and will continue to ask you if you are still working on that while you have your fork in your hand and a mouthful of food. There will be a public outcry about wait staff refilling water glasses without asking. Why don’t we just start paying 10 cents a glass, or maybe a quarter. No free refills.

Santa Fe will become a regional center for the admiration and worship of the Siberian Elm tree, a truly invasive weed/tree that sucks more water out of the earth than all the pinion and juniper combined. The shade these weeds provide will once again come up short when compared to the cost of loss of water in the ground and root damage to plumbing and pavement. The last person to agree to cut down such a tree on their property will also be the first person to call for the lowering of property taxes and better schools for youngsters. Confusion will reign as education about the value and importance of types of trees becomes mandatory for property owners. Flat roofs will continue to leak.

Our state will put a Democrat into the Governor’s office next time around. We are in a cycle and the current Gov, a Republican, is wrapping up her 2nd term so its time to change again. No matter who gets in, that person will get a second four-year term unless it is discovered that they hired immediate family members for important positions, who failed to disclose meetings with Texans in their paperwork.

The Aamodt (water rights) lawsuit will be settled someday, much to the distaste of everyone involved. Nobody will be happy about the terms and conditions of said settlement, yet life will go on and water restrictions will remain.

On a wider perspective, the EU seems to be in a pickle as its various member nations go through troublesome and confusing times. Many want isolation while others realize there is power and safety in alliances. It seems a macho/bully sort of demand for going it alone – making Bosnia great again – while denigrating every other country and ally. The soft/sensitive side of national leaders admit we cannot do it as islands; we need our connections and our friends to make everything great again. And what is the definition of great again exactly? A time when the old white guys had unlimited power and commanded everyone else’s life, or a time when we were all innocent and desperate standing in soup lines in the 1930s? What decade do you wish we could return to? In the 1950s I was young and naive. Life was good and I had a bicycle and rode it everywhere in a 10 mile radius of home. I knew where the candy counter was too.

In the 50 states, turmoil is the rule right now. Elected officials are getting hell from their constituents when they talk about voting for a health care bill that takes away care from many. The concept of national health care seems impossible yet it is carried out successfully in many countries with fewer resources. Bipartisan and fair for all; then figure it out. If controls on Pharma and the medical world are necessary, that is the price to pay to cover everyone. Or if you believe that those that cannot afford health care should do without, please track a suffering person without care and add up how the emergency room and numerous public services actually spend money caring for that person. Preventative work is almost always better than treating the sickness once it takes hold. And there is more…

The average American may or may not agree if we should stay in the Paris Accord (climate change fears) and carry the burden of moving swiftly and completely into a sustainable style of living. Yet we have strong evidence that a refocus on alternate energy and reusable materials can be economically viable. If Big Oil has power, we will utterly fail to take action until the best we can do is stay alive with filters and masks and be afraid to step out in public lest the lepers and zombies get close to us. Each person needs to ethically figure it out for themselves. If some are waiting for a voice to guide them, that voice is not yet on the scene. It will probably be someone who is only 9 years old today. When did you realize you are using more than your fair share? And why is that OK with the rest of us?

Caring for those in need is not mandatory in our current world. Yet choosing not to care for people who desperately need assistance is basically telling them to get lost; go off and die somewhere far away. I don’t think we are in a postapocalyptic world in which we need to be heavily armed against invaders who want to raid our food storage and steal our clean water. Are you hoarding gold? Will that feed your children? What fuels the paranoia dominating those that have plenty over those going without? What are they afraid of? The revolution that some fear will be much messier if it is made up of starving people fighting for food instead of those with full bellies that just want better education and free mass transit. Pick your battles, I suppose. Are some afraid that if everyone had plenty to eat and access to health care then the world would be out of balance?

In the future, blogs will be blogs and real estate will be real estate. You might own real property, build a shelter and stock it with two years worth of food and water. But then what cable channel will you watch when the two coasts are obliterated and the less populated states have the survivors? Wyoming and Montana have lots of empty spaces where bombs will not fall and disease and armed insurgents will never capture territory. And yet…    Who is going to do your yard work? Will you need to dry clean anything? Is Blue Apron still around? What do I do with my golf membership?

Predictions are risky and since no large wager of money is on the line, I can handle being wrong if it turns out that way. But I prefer to be right. Maybe you do also. It’s probably human nature to desire and hope that things turn out the way you want them to. What some people seem to want just scares the hell out of me. Should I get over it or speak up?

A success story

The Santa Fe residential real estate market has come through some difficult times (no kidding!) and survived with a bright future and a solid foundation for growth and prosperity. Overall the market is somewhat balanced, with the usual strong and weak pockets. One who wishes to sell a home should find enough of a pool of buyers to make a deal. Prospects who are considering our area will have a reasonable amount of inventory to shop.

As always, the monthly statistics will be posted by the 10th of the following month, so May 2017 and year to date results will be available by June 10th. If you choose to follow this blog you will get an email when I post them, or just come back around the 10th for the good news; things are looking good!

Thank you

The Saga of Elk Mountain

Once upon a time, the lands around here were explored by people from other parts of the world, including from parts of Europe where they have to put names on everything. And many times explorers and adventurers, representing the King or Queen or POTUS of their homelands would attach the name of that royal personage or their own name on a large piece of land or body of water. Lake Louise, Mount Ranier, Bering Straits, Jamestown, Queens and even a little burg (larger back then) known as Elizabethtown in the Romero Valley of New Mexico.

Well, as luck would have it, the Europeans coming into what would become New Mexico gave some names to some of the mountains around here such as Wheeler Peak but the use of proper names was not so strong as many others were named for existing conditions, such as Trampas, Vallecito and Truchas. I mean, those are connected to things and events and beliefs, but not so much proper names. Then the mountain east of the Pecos River Canyon a low and massive hump of land with a barely discernible peak from below, but long deep snow cover in the winter, came to be called Elk Mountain. Now I am not a betting man but I believe at least 31 states of our 50 have a hill or mountain by that name. And that’s fine because names of things are used over and over in different areas and locations. Imagine my surprise when as a young boy I found out that the Broadway I lived on in Fremont Nebraska was not the biggest well-known Broadway around.

Now begins the saga as Elk Mountain has been properly named for many a year, but then politics sometimes gets in the middle of things and ruins them completely. Or improves them if you are of a certain ethnic or gender based group that depends on laws (borne out of political angst) to get to live your life in our bent out of shape country. Just last night I heard a guy say, on TV (a hallowed soap box from which to spread rumors and lies), that we are not a nation of immigrants but we are a WHITE nation. Wow, what box did that guy crawl out of? And what about Elephant Butte?

So the people sitting in Washington said one day that they had a compunction to honor some of their favorite sons-in-law (Kushner?) and sons of the Third Wife (Barron?) so the renaming began in earnest. Lake-of-the-Woods became Flynn Pond. Georgia was retitled Jaredland. The Smoky Mountains became Ivanka’s Ridge and so on and so on. Then they started seeing things named after animals and old Native American names, which they knew they could ignore because no descendants held any power over the 45 Regime and they would have little resistance. So Lake Peak, just above little Santa Fe, became Pence Mountain and Elk Mountain became Davidduke Hill. After several years of this renaming process the people were so confused and left in the dark that some of the information did not get circulated on a timely basis and National Park maps, for which there was no budget, started coming out with the new names. It was a tedious process to pore over those maps to find out what had been changed. There was an element of disbelief when many landmarks and lakes and streams and mountains and cities and states all of a sudden were named something else.

And who pray tell would represent the Elks, except maybe that old group of beer drinking guys that have clubs all over the country (Elks Lodges, each with a distinct charter and number) and all of the actual elk that live and propagate on those same mountains (except where they have been hunted out completely). Well, as fate would dictate, the Elks Lodge guys were not well enough organized to make a difference but the elk animals were very upset. They started dodging bullets and arrows with abandon and refusing to be shot for antler trophies and meat. The cost to the people who hunt elk was tremendous and the lack of meat on the table was a big wakeup call to all. And the elk, without the process of elimination that comes from being hunted, grew in population to where they were asking about homesteading on new lands and setting up new elk villages all over the place, even near Tucson and El Paso and areas where they were not expected.

This situation became a huge news item and of course many were confused because they thought it might be fake news and all. But it was the real deal. The story got even more weird when all the bald guys in American go up in arms because of all the mountains with Baldy in the name (and there were quite a few) that were renamed after 45’s various resorts and golf courses around the globe. Bald guys are not the type to offend and slight, let me tell you. So stay tuned for the Baldy Saga coming to a movie house near you.

Whats good for the goose

The story behind our fair and historic city is a long and romantic one. It is also filled with assorted groups claiming Northern New Mexico with swords and knives and later being overthrown. The dirt we grow our roses in has been governed by several nations and has been subject to differing methods of land ownership verification over the last 400 plus years. Today one gets a title insurance policy when one buys real property, most of the time. On occasion a family transfer occurs and title is not researched and insurance is not purchased because there is a presumption of clear title on behalf of the family’s elders.

You can trust anyone you want, but it is usually a good idea to verify what they are telling you; check on what they are selling you. While there are rarely title insurance claims filed, probably because the title companies do excellent research, there are too often bad feelings and threats of lawsuits after a simple real estate transaction. Many times that has to do with someones perception of what a Realtor is supposed to do or say, or what the seller did or did not disclose. A leaky roof is a very bad thing to discover in your new (to you) home, but it happens to the best of us. As we rarely get rain and or snow to test the integrity of our roofing systems, months can go by without a drop of moisture while the tar or foam or aluminum flashing holding out the moisture is failing slowly but surely. Then when we get a big wet late April snow storm, it may feel as if the seller was dishonest in not disclosing a roof leak. But did it ever leak before? That is a difficult question to answer with 100% accuracy. Some sellers might not be honest but I would submit to you that most are.

So buy a home and ask lots of questions, get lots of inspections, order and read lots of reports so when you walk in the door for the first time as the owner, there won’t be surprises and disappointments. Buying a home is not the time to save a couple hundred by choosing not to investigate the quality of the construction of your new dwelling.

Some roof leaks, canale leaks, skylight leaks and other places water can get inside are only wet for a few hours, plenty of time for them to dry while we are at work or in Albuquerque shopping at Costco. Go away for a week and who knows what is going on inside your home. I have seen homes so large that I doubt the owners can physically see every inch of their home on the inside to even know if a leak exists. Vigilance is a good thing when you are fighting leaks, and other unwanted invasions.

The wisdom of owning a home usually is greater than leasing, but when your home requires a bunch of work just to bring it back to normal, it may feel like you are not doing the right thing to own a home. If you were leasing you could just call the landlord, right? Let’s hope you have a good landlord; most are good in my experience. But the money required to maintain a home is not somewhere to skimp and save. The true savings in home maintenance seem to be when the owner can do much of the work herself without having to call a professional. Painting, tile and grout, cleaning, re-sealing wood surfaces, are all known to be projects an owner can take on with confidence. Electrical and plumbing maybe require more journeyman help than Uncle Jimmy who is handy with a hammer. You must keep the home in good condition if you want it to maintain value. If you want it to increase in value, consider adding on with a quality addition, or remodeling key areas of your home, such as the kitchen.

If you were not up to speed on our particular market characteristics, appreciation of home values is still a story we will hope to write in the future. If you find a home that has grown in value over the last 5-7 years, either it was bought for a song and is now fixed up or the owner make improvements that added value. Just running the vacuum and washing windows will not make your home worth more money.

Funny how I can show a home to a couple that says they rarely cook and yet they are quick to criticize a home with an outdated or small kitchen. If I ask them why they care, they are slow to admit it makes an impression, good or bad, on their visitors and house guests. Hope springs eternal for the day when a homeowner stops trying to keep up with the Joneses and just lives a simple and happy life. Then there is the shock when they find out their home seems to be a mid-century modern with a certain panache that makes it “unique”. Speaking of styles what exactly is soft contemporary? Is that something you can define or put your finger on? Does it mean contemporary but that some of the hard and straight lines have curves in them? Someday I will catch up on the jargon. Still my fave is 5 minutes to the Plaza. The most fun a person can have when they live south of St. Michaels Drive and try to get to the Plaza from home in 5 minutes or less.

Take a gander at this: home sales continue to climb, with April sales for the month well above last year’s April. I will let you look it up in the attached spreadsheets so you can have that moment of joy when you see the numbers.

So now an important question for you. Please vote by your site visits over the next month. I have been contemplating making this website more about marketing my listings, if I happen to have any, than just dry and hard to understand numbers. What do you think? Would you still come by and visit if you had to look at some banner ads with my listings? Many have told me I should charge admission for access to the information herein. I would settle for an occasional commission check from selling one of my listings from a feature post with photos right here. If you are not happy with the changeover to a more “retail” appearance, then make me an offer and you can buy this very blog with its history and first page of Google pedigree. Is it for sale? Show me something that is not for sale and then I want it. Speaking of the goose, I want to visit the Bosque soon and see what birds are hanging out there. I hear January is the busiest month.

Enjoy the spring and coming summer as we live in a wonderful part of the world with little to distract us from the beauty of nature and the mixing bowl of the people of Santa Fe.

I like it like that

Three months in the books and 2017 looks promising indeed. One month (March) of homes sold was well above last year, and the first three months of the last several years show a steady positive trend line. The first quarter of 2015 and 2016 produced 395 home sales while this year same period shows us with 458, a healthy 16% increase. Will that continue? If it does continue, we will soon have that shortage of inventory that the rest of the country seems to be experiencing. That inventory shortage is not something to strive for; in fact we need new construction and some spec homes soon or we will suffer from the shortage that would result. Buyers will be hurt the worst as they will have less to choose from and prices will reflect the sellers market that would take over Santa Fe. Note I said would, because it is not here yet.

In some price ranges, the recent results show good strength and a continued improvement. I have been moaning about the fact that we are still in our “recovery” mode, but maybe just maybe this will be the year we truly get beyond the pain and loss of the last 10 years. Take a look at the latest rolling 12 month unit sales totals in most any price range… (the spreadsheets are on the left margin) …you will see the most recent number in unit sales is the highest in about 10 years. While we have not yet regained the ground we held from 2003 to 2006, we are fast approaching those levels of unit sales. There were times when a full recovery seemed a dream, but it might just come true. Keep pushing my friend!

After years of scraping the bottom, bouncing along the bottom, calling the bottom, fearing there may be no bottom to the real estate crisis, burst-bubble and final markdowns/meltdowns, it is exhilarating to now be able to report some positive news about Santa Fe area residential real estate. I like it like that.

More or less what you expected

The first two months of 2017 are in the books and the numbers are fairly predictable for unit sales in all price ranges for the market area of Santa Fe NM and surrounds. Not much changes month to month anyway, but we are staying the course and building a solid foundation for future growth, should it occur. Help yourself to any of the spreadsheets available in this blog site and feel free to print and share with friends and foes alike. And possibly make your foes into friends.

The year may bring unsettled results if mortgage interest rates climb as expected. Nobody who predicts the future actually knows anything, so maybe stop listening to their rants and smooth talk. And if they did know anything, they are probably not saying what lies ahead for real estate in our City Different.

As we are now approaching the spring season (also known as Allergy Season, see prior posts), our market begins to heat up with most of the movement coming in the form of new listings appearing on the market. Over the last 8-10 years, many new listings were actually old listings that did not sell. Now we are nearly done with that old inventory and are chugging along with new sales matching up with new listings on a fair and balanced basis.

The current powers that be in our nation’s capitol have some folks thinking the future is uncertain. And those not it power, citizens and the loyal opposition, are confident the future is uncertain. Yes, but please confirm; it is always uncertain. Live life to the fullest, live every day as if it will be your last and dance like you actually had some dance training. Be friendly and be nice, get yourself healthy and if you decide to dig a bomb shelter to hide in when the bad guys come for your guns, consider stockpiling thousands of rounds of ammunition so you can kill everything that survives the Zombie Apocalypse and be the last person standing (along with your family) on the ground you love so dearly. Then call me and I will find you a new home to move into.

The differences between various beliefs and values that we read about and see online are at times as wide a gap as the difference between black and white. One side wishes the other did not exist. Of course one side would not exist without the other. If there were no black, there would be no white. All would be the same color. And yet when someone is able to voice what is truly important to them, despite the headlines and alternative facts, the same old things keep coming up. Health and happiness. Safety and security. Shelter and clean water. Stylish clothing and the best personal trainer. Fast internet and reality show entertainment. No wait… fast internet? Is that a bedrock value and need for people? Maybe so these days. I want what I want. I might also want what you have. If I am a bully and have money and ammunition, do I have the right to take what I want from you? You want what you want. Will you share what it is that is important to you? Willingly or only under threat of physical harm? Can we get along?

You can be as disgusted as the next person with what is going on out there in the Land of the Free. What are you doing about it? If you are unhappy are you looking for ways to right things that you perceive as wrong? Or are you just digging a deeper hole to hide in, hoping it all goes away? Our grand kids, some of you already have some, have the duty to ask us in the future what we did to mitigate rapid climate change and what we did to bring peace and understanding to different groups that seem constantly at odds . Is it OK with you if we are seeing species of animals and insects disappear faster than we can discover and study them? How do you know that the complete extinction of the pink tail blow fish in Southeast Asian waters will not lead to the end of life in our oceans as we know it? Is there a caring cell in your body or is it every man (or woman) for himself (or herself) and damn those that get in the way? Make America White Again? Really? Like your good old days? Good for whom?

Besides real property as opposed to personal property, what is real estate to you? The land is the earth and it has nurtured us to this point in history. Even in the high desert the land can support us. Like it or not we all came from Africa somewhere approaching 200,000 years ago. Check your DNA (I assume you might trust science and think DNA has value in amassing knowledge?) and find out where your distant ancestors came from. Mine migrated North out of Africa some 50-60,000 years ago and moved thru the Middle East, then migrated West finally settling in Europe. Then from the 1600s to the 1800s both sides of my parent’s families came over the ocean on big sailing ships to settle in the new land; a wild and woolly America. Both sides included many people who farmed and raised food and lived off of the land. How can you value a piece of fertile dirt that might sustain you while everyone buys sugary soda drinks and highly processed foods at the corner store known as IGA?

Get some dirt under your nails. Buy some land you can love and will spend time on, even better if it’s a long way from “town”.  Learn the night sky. If you can establish fruit trees and create garden space, you will form an attachment that is much stronger than steaming movies from Netflix or having a tamale at the local grill. Buy some land today. Give it to your heirs. If you are able to, buy enough that you can put some of it into a conservation easement and protect it from development forever. Why? So we might all benefit from seeing it in an undeveloped condition. The old natural look; no make up and no hair spray.

Thanks for reading and visiting. There is much to do and at times it seems like we are climbing up a very steep hill. But consider the views from the top. It will be worth the difficult ascent

You always hurt the one you love

When and if you ever choose to buy a home in the Santa Fe area, please consider treating yourself kindly and fairly and do the right thing for your family. Too many times a real estate transaction gets sideways because of poor communication or the lack of contact with customers. If you are interviewing buyer brokers to potentially work with, ask about the methods and timeliness of their communication habits. If you have a home listed for sale as a Realtor and you tell me you have not communicated with the owners of the home in more than a week’s time, I am concerned for your ability to do a great job for them.

Selling the home is the paramount task for a listing broker, but until it sells, is there not some minimum level of communication that should be reached? Would you put yourself in their position and think you would be perfectly happy without any communication for any period of time? How long would you be willing to wait between updates and reports of any interest or activity? A week seems to be about the longest tolerable time, to me. And what is that seller to the broker anyway? Are they not one of the most important business contacts they have while the listing is active? Realtors fight and claw to get listings, then amazingly drop the ball and stop the communication (why?) with their seller because they have no real news.

Being a seller of a home listed for sale is tough enough, with strangers walking through your bedroom and opening cabinet doors everywhere. No privacy and no taking a break from housecleaning and making it shine for a prospect. But if you are a seller and you know there have been showings of your home, or maybe there have not been many at all, should you expect an update or report from your chosen Realtor as to what they think is going on. Maybe as a minimum, the listing broker should share the feedback from the showings where feedback was provided. That can be invaluable and can lead to a serious consideration of the pricing and/or the condition of the home. When prospects continually say that they could not see the value of a home as it’s currently priced, that might mean its time to think about the price.

If I may be so bold as to speculate that your seller is someone you “love” — they are paying you a commission when their home sells — it seems they would be the last person you would want to hurt or treat badly. And yet it happens. And Realtors can hurt their buyers too, sometimes. A buyer who has chosen a Realtor to work with for assistance in purchasing a home should expect professional help and expertise. They should expect communication as befits the buyer’s agenda and timeline. Some buyer customers are going to buy in a couple of years. They likely do not expect weekly updates on our market conditions. How about the buyer that thinks they may be ready to purchase in the next 3 or 4 months? Seems like frequent communication would be in order. Don’t hurt the one you love; don’t hurt anyone, for that matter. But if you must choose because your time or energy is limited today, stay in touch with the ones you love. Days may feel long, but life can be unexpectedly short sometimes. Treat each day with respect, gratitude and appreciation.

Absorption Rate – Unplugged

A major focus of this blog site, along with statistics about the Santa Fe NM residential real estate market, is something called an Absorption Rate. On the left side of the site pages you will see the list of spreadsheets and charts available for review. Four of those charts are specific to Absorption Rates and they are in four price categories: all prices and then each of three smaller categories.

What does it mean if your home is approximately in the middle of the price range of $500K to $1 million? What it means is that there is an absorption rate that may apply should you attempt to sell your home. The rate uses averages so is no more precise that throwing a dart at a board, but it is very instructive if understood and factored in to how your home is marketed.

First, the chart for that price range shows four columns; inventory of homes for sale – total homes sold in that range over the last 12 months – average number of homes sold per month – average number of months it would take to sell all of the inventory (from the first column). This set of calculations presumes that only those presently for sale will actually sell and no new listings will come along in the mean time. It is a diminishing return sort of number, even though in reality, homes are withdrawn from the market and newly listed homes show up all the time.

Looking at the fourth column, the number of months entry; this is the approximate number of months it will take for those homes to sell. Let us say you have a home in that range and it is for sale. If the months count is 10 for example, one out of 10 homes will sell each month for 10 months. Each month 10 percent fewer homes will be for sale because they would have sold. A key question to ask yourself at this moment of clarity is: in which month do you want your home to sell? Maybe you are highly motivated and want yours to sell in month one or month two. Next I recommend looking at the other homes for sale in your price range and positioning yours to compare favorably with the competition. If you have a fairly “normal” home and it should be worth about $700,000, what is the asking price? If its much more than maybe $735K, what are you doing? Are you hoping a buyer will come along that cannot tell the difference between your home and another one that might be priced just above $700K?

The charts and graphs and spreadsheets herein are for your use and education. You are always welcome to share, print and quote the content with appropriate attribution. If you think I am an idiot and want to share your criticism, please feel free to contact me and I will try to incorporate your suggestions. There may be no other site that will give you the depth and breadth of information that this site offers. If you know of one, please let me know so I can take a look. I do like knowing what the competition is publishing.