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.

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.

Lot sales up 10%

2017 saw a modest increase in residential lot sales in Santa Fe city and county reporting to the MLS database for the Santa Fe Assoc of Realtors. 2016 showed a total of 194 sales while 2015 showed 175. This is “modest” since we are still light years behind the volume of sales we experienced thru most of the last decade, topping out above 490 unit sales for six consecutive years ending in 2006. Since then it has been a dogfight just to be relevant and to be optimistic.

Lot sales trend down if people are not buying lots to build. Lot sales trend down when investors are uncertain of the values of lots year after year. Having been burned once or twice on a lot purchase, investors are standing on the sidelines waiting for a more stable and solid market and valuations. There are still a large number of lot sales (of the modest total we are reporting today) that show a sales price BELOW what that seller paid years ago. Would they reinvest in another lot? Without knowing which way the market was going? Not likely.

So any increase in lot sales is likely directly tied to a modest increase in future home owners actually buying the lot they want to build on in the near future. And we are not seeing a large increase in new construction across the board so new homes is not yet a thing we can get excited about. But the shift seems to be underway that will prove up an increase in lot sales again this year and beyond. One might feel that a 10% increase is great, but when you look at where we have been, it feels like a replacement bandage on the one that has been applied in the past. Healing is still taking place.

Please note the following breakdown and analysis of the 2017 lot sales numbers:

Sold prices ranged from $29K to $435K in Las Campanas, with 10 of the 20 lowest priced lot sales of the group of 194 sales. A total of 48 lots sold in Las Campanas.

Of all sales and in various price categories, please note:

91 sales below $100,000. 44 sales between $100K and $150K. 21 sales between 150K and $200K and 22 sales between $200K and $300K. There were 12 sales at or above $300K including one of a subdivision of 15 lots and one super premium lot in a highly desirable part of town that sold well above $1 million.   Average sold price= $142,429    Median sold price= $105,000

Compare to 2006:  561 lots were sold averaging $240K per lot (almost $100K higher than 2016 avg).

Thanks for visiting this blog site and do us all a favor: buy a lot today and build a new home on it. We need the activity and the inventory.  Happy 2017

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.

That mesa is flat

Table tops show their tilt if you put a round object on them and things roll off in the same direction every time. Maybe one of the legs is short? Mesas look oh so level and flat from a distance and then up close you can see small rises and low points that make you wonder how your eyes deceived you earlier. But compared to any landscape in New Mexico, the mesas are pretty flat, you know?

Same description of our market behavior recently. The year is very nearly identical to last year and little time remains to expect large changes. In a good news bad news viewing, the upper end has seen an increase in units sold. And the middle price range I report on also has improved while seeing a drop in inventory. The general range of $500K to $1 million might offer a below average selection of inventory right now. At least it is not as bad as the selection under $500K and even under $300K where quality and volume of inventory is very limited.

This year has been a disappointment for many sellers. A recent tour of homes for sale with a buyer couple revealed some quality inventory that I was surprised to see still available; maybe because the number of buyers did not increase this year. There are some homes for sale now that should have sold 2-3 months ago. But apparently they did not sell as of yet due to the lack of growth in buyer traffic. Buyers can still locate what seem to be good deals in all price ranges if they are diligent and proactive. The lower the price the more competitive it might be so a buyer of a home below $500K is wise to have the ability to move quickly on an offer and have loan applications already processed. Sellers will sell to a buyer that needs a mortgage but they will want that buyer to be ready with their pre-qualification letter.

2016 was a year of many surprises, even with a flat market. And I am not going to start a conversation about the national election because I would certainly find someone who did not agree with me. The consensus seems to be: let us stay focused on real estate in this blog. If your take on our market is different from mine, you have the right to have a different opinion and I will defend your right to have a different conclusion about results than I might have. If you tell me I am wrong, I might not vote for you next time because I am a sensitive new-age guy after all.

Bless all of us as we approach the holiday season and remember there are many people less fortunate than the rest of us. Cold weather is difficult to bear without adequate shelter and nourishment. Be kind and be truthful and be thinking of ways to spend money on real estate soon or you might find a lump of coal in your stocking.

Mi Casa es Su Casa

Third quarter sales figures are in for the Santa Fe residential real estate market, and pardon us if they look almost exactly like the 2015 figures, because they are much the same. We are on the mesa top where it not only looks flat, it is flat. Compare one month, one quarter or an annual rolling total and you will see that our growth in sales units has leveled off to the point that there is no real growth.

Median home sale prices have inched upwards a bit. That can be good for sellers wanting a larger piece of pie leftover after the ravages of contract negotiations and objections. It can make it slightly more competitive for buyers, although that trend is not building any momentum. It is reality that flat is the new normal right now. Variations from a year ago are so small one can barely see change in progress.

But sales are still sales and we enjoyed them to the tune of more than 1950 sales in the most recent complete 12 month cycle. This reflects home sales in Santa Fe city and county. The additional areas our Realtor Association serves (Los Alamos, Espanola, Pecos, etc) includes additional sales adding about 10% to the numbers you will see in the Absorption Rate charts available within this blog site.

It’s a horse race, someone said

The race is on and the unpopular candidates have less than 60 days remaining to garner the required votes to move into the White House in January. Where will you be in January? Possibly enjoying a ski run or watching NFL playoff games cheering on the Clevelands? Or maybe escaping the winter cold and eating seafood on the beach in Mexico? Most of us will be working to provide a safe and warm home for our loved ones and wondering what the next POTUS will be like. Entertaining or scary? Stable or confused? Traditional or innovative? Seems like we really should vote so we can have a say in it.

Our local contest is to see if we can surpass 2015 in residential sales when the wrap is complete on 2016. So far, we can brag about the best single month (August) of unit sales in over 10 years. That is layered on top of zero change, year over year, for the first six months, giving us a splash of confidence with a few more months of results to come…

The monthly residential sales total of 222 units is the most in any single month since July 2006. We averaged 233 a month for the entire year of 2005, so our 2016 monthly average of units sold year to date seems pale when you realize it is only 165. One good month does not boost us enough to counter the flat year we are experiencing, but it is still fun to report we had our best month in over 10 years.

As about 75% of sales are concentrated below $500K, our average sales price has been hovering around $420K to $450K for the last 8 years. 2015 average sold price ($425,331) was still below 8 of the last 12 years.

None of this should be news to anyone paying attention. The trend lines have slowly evolved from an overheated real estate industry ten years ago (with aggressive liar loans and adjustable rates the norm) through a deep trough of pain and foreclosures to now a more stable yet still recovering market. We are not in Denver or Dallas, where sales are fast and sellers are happy. Santa Fe does not always follow national trends and while many experts will tell you home prices are going up and the rate of homeownership is on the rise, it is hard to reveal that exact status here, without facts in support. Yes, the lower price ranges are doing fairly well and they include most sales; so maybe we should be happy? Fact is, we saw the crash last decade as a correction of a real estate industry that was out of control; people buying homes that did not have verifiable incomes and/or a track record of credit. And they put very little money down, so when the going got tough, they had no real equity to work to protect. Today’s market has underlying strength. Nobody can get a loan if they don’t pass the test.

The Santa Fe residential real estate market is steady and predictable and that may be a good thing. Yes we have holes in our bucket and yet we have numerous reasons to think its a wonderful place to live. Many want to build a wall to keep it from growing further, while others readily admit their claim on the area is as tenuous as the wind and scarce as the rain. When you hear “born here all my life” do you chuckle at the grammar or recall that you might have changed someone else’s hometown in a way they do not appreciate? A newcomer makes it her town too. There is room for all of us and hopefully enough water. Now if we can get some victory gardens growing and balance our governmental budgets without such a high dependency on oil and gas, we can be said to be making progress. I am pretty sure the sun shines here almost every day. Or is progress something to fear and distrust? Should we move forward or return to another time when we were great? I can recall that I was great when I won a few swimming races as a child, and aced a few school tests in my teens. And I have progressed since then. Now I have a blog.

You don’t say

What is the background for putting a positive spin on things, even when the facts don’t indicate “things” are all that positive? Is it “the glass is half full” versus “the glass is half empty”? Possibly some folks keep beating the drum that everything is going up and growing and improving knowing they will be counterbalanced by someone else that counts the numbers and puts out a statistical report that shows an objective view. As you likely already know I am of the second school; putting numbers together that tell the story in facts and statistics instead of moods, desires and emotions. And yes I desire a growth in sales as much as anyone else. But wishing and hoping does not make it so. Maybe I could manifest progress by focusing my energy on having healthy shiny white teeth? Or channeling catching a huge fish next time.

We desire to see improvement, we want to get better, but what is going on? Why are sales numbers down in July of 2016 when we have had years of steady and solid growth coming out of the deep economic recession that began almost 10 years ago? July 2016 reports show 30 fewer home sales compared to the same month in 2015. The rolling 12 month count of home sales in all price ranges hit its lowest level in over 18 months. What is your take on the plateau we are on right now? Many blame the lack of inventory for the slower sales numbers. But how can we have 15 months of inventory in the 500K to 1 million segment and say there is a lack of inventory? Three out of four price range reports I publish here show a decrease in unit sales. And the inventory numbers since the 2012 year have been basically level, with slight variations up and down. We have almost exactly the same count of homes for sale in that price range now as we did in 2012 and 2013. Back then you will recall everyone said there was too much inventory. Now apparently their standards have changed and the same number now counts as too little.

The say what? …you don’t say aspect is: who is going to speak up when the market turns flat or turns downward? It is not the typical Realtor style to say the market is changing and slowing down. The usual gig is spouting a sales pitch that says things are getting better and you should get your house on the market now to take advantage. Or you should buy now before all the good homes are gone. Really? 368 listings in Sep 2013 and 371 listings now in August 2016? (between 500K and 1 million)…That is not even a 1% change per year for three years. What are people really saying when they say there is a lack of inventory? One of the first things I hear is it’s all old, shopworn and dated inventory that nobody wants to buy. That is not quite the same as saying there is a lack of inventory. You may be putting your own spin on things to claim the homes for sale are not worthy of your money; a subjective judgment about currently available homes.

What may be most rare is the correctly priced home that someone can afford to purchase & remodel with their final cost coming out fairly close to the newly created value, after the work was done and improvements were made. Plenty of examples exist of homes that are for sale and by most estimates, need substantial work to bring them into the 21st Century. Most buyers will not throw money at a home only to have it worth less than they put into it. For many years one could create equity by buying and remodeling, assuming it was done well and the improvements enhanced the home’s appeal and value. Maybe that is not that common in Santa Fe these days.

Does it matter what anyone says? What most matters is what people with money to spend on housing are doing. They are being quite selective and negotiating prices below asking price, for the most part. Buyers still have the balance of power on their side, except for the rare offering that is a beautiful home that is priced to sell from day one. How does one arrive at a price that fits that definition? “Priced to sell” is a groovy phrase with a good beat and you can dance to it. But where is the hit factory that comes up with these prices? Most Realtors can tell you the right dollar figure, but what is hard to understand is how they can take a hard look at today’s market and state with confidence that inventory is in short supply.

Is MAGIC or VOODOO required to know how to price a home? Not magic, but maybe a sober look at comparable sales with all subjective opinions left out of the formula. Can a seller truly think their home is the best one on the block only to have the proof show up in the resounding lack of interest when it’s listed for sale? Should a seller listen to their Realtor when they discuss the price? Maybe. Maybe not. Ask me for my designation of the two most comparable sales to your home and then tell me why yours is better. We can place a side bet on how the final sales price will be arrived at and what it will be.

Santa Fe residential real estate is a wonderful hobby, and for some a career with great potential. Many place themselves squarely in the forefront of knowledge and experience in terms of knowing our market. Some stand out and others muddle through. Get good, reliable and true information; ask your questions over and over. You don’t get to say if you don’t remember to ask.