October 2009

Think of all the things we have survived so far and possibly be thankful. We have survived the worst economic event(s) in 70 years, when all around us appeared to be failing. We have survived the highest unemployment (a collective “we”) rates in many years. We have survived the highest ratio of sales of homes to inventory of homes in “recorded real estate sales history”. We have survived the state’s highest elected official’s drama (that’s Mr. Richardson to you and me) as he went through investigations and vetting that determined whether he would be allowed to finish his term without a fight. And we have survived the transition from a conservative hands-off President to a President that is Black and is also hell bent on being involved in everything, whether some like it or not. Well, survived “so far”. And this is a partial list! Yet somehow this does not seem the stuff of legends or tales to tell our grandchildren. I still can’t get over how tolerant Americans are about all they have seen and experienced in the last 3 years.

If you have lost half your retirement nest egg and the other half is in jeopardy (do you have any equity left in your home?), would you be ready to scream a little bit, or maybe at least vote out the incumbents when the next election comes around? In my observation, there is little or no passion among citizens about where they stand today compared to where they perceived they stood just a few years ago. Is it possible that many thought the bubble was going to burst anyway? Maybe they just spent more than they earned or could save and lived the high life until it would be eventually evaporate. Is that why there is almost no outrage and reasons for voters to make sweeping changes? That we all knew it was just a mirage. I thought the results of last fall’s election meant Americans were sick of what had been happening. Yet so many still proclaim that “we” want things to stay the same. I wonder about that point of view.

So back to being thankful that we have survived, I wish to add that we cannot sit still or congratulate ourselves for surviving SO FAR. In my estimation, almost all the hard work required to get our economy moving in the right direction again still needs to be accomplished by each and every one of us. It won’t be the bold stroke of a pen (or the first gunshot of a new regional conflict) that gets us out of this hole. It will be the diligent work and shoulder to the wheel from each of us. What if you are one of those that thinks the bailouts were wrong and the heavy-handed governmental involvement in our daily lives has gotten out of control? What do you do? Move to Canada or some distant land? Or do you repeat that you are happy to be here and work even harder to make your life and our country the best they can be? When I see apparent failure, I consistently see the blaming of others for the failure. Instead of making up for other’s shortcomings and doing a little extra, some like to point fingers and say “he (or she) did it!” And that’s how we stay stuck with a do-nothing Congress and stay mired in the rut of too many homes for sale and indecisive buyers.

What? Just how is this affecting our real estate market? One simple observation: take charge of your own situation. If you are thinking of buying a house, then buy it. If you are a seller and have all the information available to you about our market, then go ahead and sell. “But I have been trying to sell my house” you might say. Your favorite Realtor can gather the data on the houses that did sell while you were “trying”. Then compare those facts plus the intangibles to see what allowed those homes to sell while yours did not. That’s where the answer is. Buyers and sellers are waiting for others to take care of their business before they make their move. And as long as they continue to do that, they will end up continuing to sit on the fence and nothing will happen. But if just some of us took action and proceeded to buy or proceeded to sell, that would begin the momentum needed to cause the progress we need – to get beyond this rut we are in. If ten percent of both sellers and buyers (those actively trying) got over their wait-and-see moods (also called a ‘woe is me’ mood) and took the next step, we would have actually moved this huge immoveable object by putting our shoulders to the wheel. You have seen the bumper sticker “Be the change you wish to see in the world” I am sure. If you are thinking about complaining about our slow real estate market, do your personal part: buy or sell a house! Do that and the change you wish to see will be closer. Then you can truly display the bumper sticker and wear the T-shirt that says “I Survived!”

One should never criticize the optimist that sees a bright future ahead. The future of Santa Fe looks exceedingly bright to me. But I cannot say today that real estate sales are getting better just yet. Does that mean I am not optimistic? Does that make me negative? The numbers still do not show improvement, but we understand that it takes time to turn this behemoth around. Things have stopped getting worse lately. It is my stated plan to report the facts and point out what logical conclusions may be drawn. If you like, you can tell everyone you see that things are getting better and I will gladly seek out and publish those success stories. Tell me where to find them. And when things are wonderful someday and most everyone is making money again without knowing how or why, you won’t have any use for my facts or finger pointing.

And now for the real reason you made the effort to read this far; what do the numbers look like? September 30th marks the ¾ point for 2009, so this issue includes a quarterly sales chart. Each quarter’s end I include a set of Sold stats (to go with the usual attachment). At present, it shows us near the bottom of numerous years of sales statistics. The best news anyone might offer is that downward trends seem over and we have nowhere to go but up. The 9 months of 2009 actually exceeded the 9 months of 2008 in the under $500,000 price category. In that range, sales have been fairly reliable and strong, compared to the rest of the inventory. Seasonally, we are likely to see a decrease in inventory through the winter. And many people are banking on selling between today and next summer if only to salvage what they have struggled to protect, and protect their credit standing. For the next 9 months, at current rates of near 100 homes sold per month, those sales will eliminate close to half of our inventory. Make your home part of the group that sells before the next wave of newly listed homes comes along next spring. You know you want to buy and there are some great deals out there. Many are saying “Now Is The Time To Buy”.  So get busy!

SOLDS – Santa Fe City and County – Residential – from 7/1 to 9/30 for each year shown

This header includes a correction. This data is for the 3rd Quarter, not 1st, 2nd and 3rd Quarters

YEAR       

      ALL PRICES

         TO $500,000

$500,000-$1 MILLION

$1 MILLION +

      # of units

    # of units

# of units

# of units

2009

357

259

70

28

2008

383

255

87

41

2007

478

305

125

48

2006

611

412

155

44

2005

794

589

152

53

2004

667

515

130

22

2003

705

590

99

16

2002

619

541

62

16

2001

566

498

56

12

Statistics are from Santa Fe Association of Realtors – Multiple Listing Service database and are deemed reliable but are not guaranteed.

We can start today with specific action that moves us forward. Jim, Mary, Dave and Paul (all actual newsletter subscribers – names used without permission) have each said they want to buy or sell right now. You have our blessing and support. Would the rest of you please also bless and support so they can proceed with their wishes? Go ahead. It will help us all in the long run. Here is my Rx… buy one of those houses and call me in the morning!


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