Strong, stronger, strongest

We can cheer and smile just a bit as we continue to build on a strong year, the strongest in many years, and stronger than we have had the pleasure to brag about for some time… The unit sales numbers for Santa Fe residential real estate are running at or above a 10% increase over last years unit sales numbers. That’s some news you can smile about.

Various spreadsheets and charts are available for your review if you enjoy digging into the historical trends and current versus prior tallies. Look on the left margin and select the report(s) you are interested in. Try the Third Quarter chart and note the increases in the 1 Million plus price range, 2016 and then 2017. That is a 42% increase. The entire Quarter, including all homes in the sample, went up 13.6% this year compared to last year.

Inventory is actually pretty low in the more affordable price ranges, with barely over 4 months of product  (using my absorption rate formula), while the overall market inventory to be absorbed, using the current rate of sales, is only 7 months. That is within shouting distance of a “balanced market” and based on recorded history in Santa Fe residential real estate, it IS now a balanced market here. While we have lagged other cities in our part of the US, we are healthy and solid in our growth lines without wild fluctuations that later could result in another bubble bursting… I can almost make a prediction, but I will not because I am careful not to, that we will not see prices and home values going down anytime soon.

But will they go up? Now that we are in balance and not very many new homes are being built to meet the demand for the smell of fresh sawdust, we are likely to start seeing actual price appreciation by mid 2018. It could come sooner but we are entering the cooler months and our winter time sales are usually slower; not as robust as summer and fall. Are you looking for a promise that homes will go up in value next year? That’s what you want? Anyone who promises anything like that is certifiable crazy but it very well could happen. I would be delighted to see some consistent across the board appreciation finally.

Get your deals while it’s still 2017 if you know what I mean. Next year could see the sellers tighten up and be less flexible on price and terms, knowing their home is one of only a few available with the quality and location everyone wants. The beautiful adobe in the more distant hills may not notice the market changes as those homes are less compliant with popular buyer location desires. Sellers, plan now to begin your marketing for next year. Buyers, get your pencils sharpened for the deal you want before next spring brings highly optimistic sellers to the dance. Or just buy or sell when you are ready to pull the trigger. Deciding when to do something based on market trends is not always profitable. Better to do things that work for your lifestyle and schedule than following what the masses are trying to do.

The day of the week of the month of the year

The charts and spreadsheets available to you on this blog site are now updated to include sales and inventory as of the end of August 2017. Eight months into the 2017 books and we are running a nice and tidy 12.3% above last years numbers in unit sales for Santa Fe city and county. That is music to many ears. To finally have consistent growth and improvement in our market is a welcome milestone. Remember all real estate is local and each home and neighborhood have distinct characteristics.

Nobody said it would be easy and it has not been easy to climb out of the deep hole that the economic crisis put all of us into. But we have succeeded and are not planning to fall back in anytime soon. There was a place and time (maybe around 2009 and 2010) when I firmly believed that residential real estate could lead us out of the real estate downturn, the tremendous loss of personal financial wealth and “loss of savings in the form of home equity” that we experienced.

It would have taken a mea culpa from the big banks (the ones too big to fail) accepting the millions of bad loans they had on their books as truly bad loans. It would have taken them swallowing a huge pill of write-offs, effectively lowering the principal balance of millions of home loans by tens of thousands of dollars. And all for what? To be done with the depression years sooner? They got bailed out (at least the ones that did not close up shop) so what did they care? The personal health and well-being of the CEOs and stockholders of those big banks would have had to admit to stupidity and white-collar crime, but it would have gotten things upright in a much faster timeframe.

No it did not happen. They took the bailout terms and never admitted guilt. They foreclosed on millions of Americans who were lied to when they bought homes they could not afford. The big banks profited when the loans were made and got insurance on most of the loans that failed to payoff in full. Those consumers that were innocent and actually qualified for the home loans they took out still suffered because of all the other junk and debris around them. Homes were sold for $400K that were worth $325K. When the home buyer moved in, the appraiser said it was worth $400K. But after the 3rd year of fixed payments, when the monthly debt service doubled or tripled, then the owner had a home worth more like $300K or $325K so if they owed $350K, what were they supposed to do?

I know of many that lived through the storm and did not abandon their homes and declare bankruptcy and/or sign a deed in lieu of foreclosure. They kept paying every month and yes, sooner or later the balance came down enough that they no longer owed more than the home was worth. It took ten years or possibly longer. And the entire time they had no increase in net worth and spent every cent they made keeping the payments up and not taking vacations.

What is your recollection? Here is mine. I am a little bitter about the dishonesty at the top of the money pyramid, and also a bit proud that I did not cave in and deed my home to the bank when it was worth less than I owed against it. Now that its finally worth what I paid for it in 2001, I am selling it. Maybe the money I spent on a new roof, new stucco and other necessary things is offset by the deduction of mortgage interest? I sincerely doubt it, but will do the math if it will help me accept 16 years of ownership and upkeep just to have nothing to show for it now.

The lesson that a home is not an ATM is not that difficult to learn. I never treated my home like an ATM. I used equity to pay for roof and stucco and other things the property required. The tough love that homes do not always go up in value is something I still see people struggle with. They expect their home to be worth more in the years after they purchased it. But in Santa Fe residential real estate, is that a reasonable expectation? Ask your friendly Realtor to help you arrive at a market value. No rules apply evenly to all property.

Remembering the tragic events of Sept 11, 2001 brings humility and respect to front of mind. We only are handed this one life and we should live it to the fullest every day. With hurricanes bringing pain and suffering to so many millions, being thankful for what we have is an everyday event. And if we can help others we are better people for taking action. We all have so much to share.

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.

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.

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

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.

Home sales up 3.3%

The results of 2016 data as reported to the Santa Fe Association of Realtors show a single digit increase in unit sales year over year: 2016 compared to 2015. The headline is the number:  3.3% increase. Overall the total dollar volume also went up, a decent number of 6.44%. The average sales price went up also; but only 3.03%. These numbers and the relevant spreadsheet is available for you to review by selecting it in the right margin (Monthly Residential Solds) which applies to homes, condos, townhouses & modular within the County (and City) of Santa Fe, NM.

Nobody can or should complain about a positive trend in unit sales, correct? The prior year over year (2015 vs 2014) showed up with a 7.8% increase. So we slowed down it seems. The actual increase in unit sales shows up as follows:  2014= 1824  —  2015= 1967  —  2016= 2032, which means the unit count increased by 143 for 2015 and by 65 for 2016. We did slow down a little bit.

That grand total of 2032 units sold in 2016 is still 27% below what we peaked at in 2005, during those red-hot years of liar loans, free and easy money, no doc no cry deals, etc. Still you will find plenty of homes that are worth what someone paid 10 years ago, assuming the did the normal upkeep and did not add-on or do a major remodel and update.

Land sales were hot then too. Many lots were sold in the last decade that still would not bring what was paid for them way back when real estate was great. Shall we make real estate great again? MREGA? Or maybe shorten it to MEGA? That sounds more poetic. Make realEstate Great Again. MEGA – Yeah, we just created a new ad campaign!

Some say the majority of last year witnessed buyers sitting on the fence awaiting the results of the national election. They were hesitant to make their move until they knew what direction the country (and interest rates too?) were headed in. Those same buyers might have had another excuse such as an ingrown toenail so that may have just been a convenient one to latch on to. And now that they waited, what is going on? It seems interest rates are climbing. This blog site does not track interest rates carefully as that information is almost everywhere online, but looking them up might illustrate that waiting was a mistake (if you need mortgage money). Does that mean 2017 will be better? Rising interest rates typically mean fewer buyers can buy so if 2017 is going to meet or surpass 2016, we have some work to do. Get out there and sell a home today.

If you are studying the Santa Fe residential real estate market in-depth, this site has a great deal of historical information you are free to access anytime. No future trends are predicted here. You are allowed to print pages and share them. I do not ask for compensation, but do request that you not brazenly plagiarise my statistics and pass them off as your own hard work. If you do quote me, please do so accurately and fairly. If you do not like the information and wished it showed more sales, that is not my fault and blaming me will only make you look worse. Yes, I have been blamed for being too influential on our market results. The concept is bizarre as if I spoke with a large number of sellers and/or buyers and said things that caused them to change the way they went about doing business in local real estate. Honestly I have lots of opinions (as everyone does) and am not hesitant to share them, but I try to let the hot air escape, staying primarily focused on the facts. It is a fact that there is going to be 12 months this year. I will report on each and every one of them. You can come back as often as you wish.

Sending you our best wishes

…for a great year in 2017. May the numbers you visualize show up on time and may the results you desire come true. Ending 2016 with a solid number of sold homes over the prior 12 months, in excess of the 2000 level, is gratifying and it seems to prove we are on solid ground and not backsliding.

Your image of how you think our market should look is important. It seems we should be in agreement on the following statements. You may not agree, but then we don’t have to be in full agreement.

Interest rates are climbing and will continue to climb during the year. This always means a slight slowdown in buyers purchasing homes. The higher the rates go the more of a slowdown we can expect. It is simple mathematics, not voodoo or blind faith.

New construction seems to be picking up, helping with a dearth of inventory in the lower price ranges, taking pressure off the 40-year-old homes to satisfy the needs of today’s buyers of affordable dwellings. Proposed apartments seem to be quickly approved now also and that will also affect the lower priced inventory as people will have a bit more choice. Of course we hope they buy instead of rent. That is the standard Realtor belief: that everyone should be a homeowner.

The City of Santa Fe seems to be committed to providing high-speed internet access and updated airport facilities (maybe I am dreaming) which experts believe are sure-fire ways to stimulate economic development and entrepreneurial activity. When a business opens and stimulates everything around it (as Meow Wolf seems to be doing), economic development is no longer a mystery. Oh if only we could have ten copies of Meow Wolf please! Proximity is important in real estate. Walking distance is a growing asset in residential real estate. So is being near Meow Wolf, the Plaza and several other locations such as the Dale Ball Trails, shopping centers and schools.

The world of foreclosures and short sales seems to be on the tail end of a long and painful run, though we will still see homes show up in both categories this year. The top broker in unit sales in this market several years ago was a specialist in foreclosures. That is not the case today, but our recovery is still a work in progress. Witness that many homes are not yet worth what someone paid for them nine or ten years ago. When you want a bargain, do you look at foreclosures first? Those days are about over with. So many buyers came away with huge headaches from trying to buy a foreclosure. And of course nobody made a profit except the lawyers (bless them and everyone) and the people doing the winterizing and the repair work.

2017 is going to be a watershed year for many due to unknown future events that some are looking forward to and others are living in fear about. Will Obamacare be repealed, or replaced? Will inflation take off and throw a wrench into our economic gears? How will the Tweeter-in-Chief rule the country? How will his supporters and his detractors heal wounds and work together in this coming year? Will they be able to work together at all? Will our citizens feel safe or will the threat of terrorism grow? Will our forgotten youth and disadvantaged groups be included or excluded in our uniquely American future? Will Christians be able to reconcile their religious beliefs with their demands for making America great again? Is the gap between the haves and the have-nots going to grow or shrink? Does it matter to you? Should it matter to anyone? Is TRUTH an endangered species? Will the Cowboys win the Super Bowl? These important, and not so important questions will be answered this year, maybe.

Please plan a return visit to this blog site on January 10th if you are interested in the most recent monthly numbers plus the 12 month studies of how the Santa Fe residential real estate market is doing. I am working on the annual report of residential lot sales, a 4th quarter report for homes and the rolling 12 month recap, which is showing total sales above the number of 2000 homes. This has been a long time in the making. Can we maintain 2000 plus this year? With your help it can be done.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumber

The guys and gals that fix your things are probably pretty good at it, or you might not return to them to fix whatever broke. The people who wait on you when you are dining out are probably attentive and courteous and provide excellent service (someone else does the cooking, not the wait staff) and that might be a large reason you go back to that place on a regular basis. Real estate has its ups and downs, along with a host of top-notch people mixed in with those that can barely explain the necessity of a survey. Who do you like to work with? Is it safe to assume you have a true professional at your side when you wheel and deal in real estate? Lets hope so.

What is the purpose of negotiating one of the most important financial moves of your life (buying a home) if you are going to throw caution to the wind and hire the rookie with little or no seasoning or the broker that cuts their fees to get your business, only to forget to tell you about some important deadlines during escrow. Yes, rookies can be great at their first few deals as a Realtor, or they can learn at your expense. Helping your Realtor understand the entire process might make you feel better and you quite likely will not end up in a lawsuit or in a pickle that you cannot escape from. But should you take that chance?

How about the role of ethical behavior in your dealings with that salesperson you hired? Does it even matter? Well, it might not matter in many deals. It’s possible there will not be an instance when your Realtor had a choice to make and sadly chose the unethical path. But what if they did make the wrong choice (I am equating unethical with wrong, by the way) and it affected you in a problematic way, or even cost you money? If you cannot think of an example of how this might affect you, the customer, in a negative way, ask your Realtor if they can describe an example. If they cannot, then you also might have reason for concern.

Every four years the national Realtor organization (NAR) requires all Realtors to have taken a two-hour course on Ethics. The four-year deadline is this year. Almost all of them have taken the course by now or are scheduled in the next week or two. If you fail to take the course, your Realtor status is suspended. If your favorite Realtor is suspended, what does that tell you? That they are a procrastinator or are not paying attention to requirements? What would that say about their ability to help you execute the terms of a purchase agreement with deadlines and contingencies on many items?

Simply failing to take an Ethics course does not make one unethical, of course! Some have taken the course and remained a bad actor in our industry, doing unethical things time after time; saying the wrong thing, failing to disclose material facts, forgetting to tell you about the new sewage treatment plant going in across the street from your retirement home. Lack of disclosure is one of the most frequent mistakes a Realtor can make. If you are a home buyer, rely on that person, but please take responsibility and do as much research as you feel is necessary to allow you to feel comfortable with the property you are buying.

Tweedle Dumber is licensed and practicing real estate sales every day. And I am calling them Dumber because they do not have the brains to figure out how to do business ethically and professionally. They may think that classes they are required to take are a waste of their time. They may think they already know everything. Hey, if I have been in and around real estate for nearly 35 years by now and am still learning every day, it might be because there is more to learn and the rules are always changing and market trends dictate learning new things every year. Find out if your chosen professional is in the good column or in the “bad” column. Then you can sleep at night.

“You learn something every day if you pay attention”  Ray LeBlond

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”   Albert Einstein

PS-  Newly updated real estate market stats will be published here by the 10th of this and every month.