What’s my line?

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Shame on me for recycling an old TV show title for this blog post. Go ahead and read it if you want. It might be better than watching television anyway.

Every emailed newsletter I receive has a different slant on what is going on in real estate. If you are a casual observer or only look closely when you are in the middle of selling or buying, it may be impossible to get a clear picture of the real estate market. Many full time professionals don’t know what is going on.

For starters, the national outlook has fans and foes based on headlines; “Home sales increase for 7th straight month” compared to “Sales slip again amidst downward trending prices”. There are lots of ways to make statistics work for one’s agenda. I can show you numbers that are all good and yet, with a different slant, show you figures that prove how terrible things are. And yes, these numbers come from the same source. Its all in how I manipulate the numbers to make them say what I want to say. Hard evidence supporting one’s position is all the rage these days. Look at the climate change arguments. The high moral ground of scientific evidence is claimed by those who believe climate change is real and a world problem as it is also claimed by those that think it a scam and don’t believe it’s reality. Same story with real estate, albeit on a much smaller stage.

Speaking of stages, lets talk location. Ralph writes a column for the Buffalo Burner and monthly statistics about real estate are a regular feature. Here is a recent headline; “Home prices soar while inventory almost nonexistent”. Fine for Ralph and everyone in and around Buffalo, but how would that apply to Northern New Mexico? Not at all. Do some Santa Fe buyers bring their hometown experience with them when they show up? Naturally they do and they have to become acclimated to local conditions. You know, altitude, water conservation and expensive mud huts.

A nearby market (Denver) has healthy real estate numbers for several years running, with an apparent full recovery to the infamous down market. Does the Denver market tell you anything about Santa Fe’s market? Well, probably a little more than Buffalo does in that there is some migration between the areas. Buffalo not so much. By the way, has Santa Fe’s market ever fully recovered? I would have to say no based on confirmed sales prices of homes today that are still below sales prices for the same home 8 to 10 years ago. That irrational exuberance and climbing prices from last decade really washed away some hard earned savings and equity. I don’t think we are seeing a growth in equity based on appreciation yet.

Even the Denver real estate market is not an accurate way to describe the Santa Fe market. So whom do you believe when you hear that home sales are up and that home sales are down? You will have to dig deeper and get into smaller segments of our market to find the truth. Blanket statements are often incorrect, or just a piece of the whole cloth.

The market in the Eldorado subdivision might be in a certain stage while the market in the Northwest suburbs could be completely different. Walking distance to the Plaza might provide a certain expectation while the Airport Rd area might indicate a completely different scenario. What neighborhoods are hot? This week may be different than next week or last month. Ask a professional.

Your line, as a real estate professional, could be that you want listings because they sell. You could literally make money while island hopping in Hawaii. Another’s line might be to focus on buyers only, as homes are still grossly overpriced and sellers are being unrealistic about with their expectations of their Realtor. Both lines might be correct. Or you may not even have a line.

The numbers, figures and statistics in this blog/site are intended to be impartial, an unbiased reporting of factual events. I have never tried to paint the picture any way but the way the facts paint it. Its not even how I interpret it; just the facts. Some have criticized me for not being a cheerleader for real estate sales when the market was in the toilet and sellers could not give their homes away. True, I was not a cheerleader then, and behaved as if the facts told me that the market was very slow. I urge you to prioritize facts over someone’s personal agenda.

By the way, what does one do with this fact? Almost every home listed in the SOLD column has seen one or more price reductions from the start of the listing period until the home sells. The other day it was 15 sales; 13 marked with price reductions and the other 2 were new construction where the buyer contracted at that price, PLUS upgrades. Over an 8 day period recently, with a total of 56 sales, fully 49 of those homes sold below the starting price of the current listing agreement. And if you know how our MLS system works, some of the other 7 might have previously been priced higher in a former listing arrangement with another broker. Hey, sometimes even the current broker had it listed previously, at a higher price, and yet the listing today shows it as a “new” listing. How should we account for the 180 days or whatever term it used to be on the market, with possibly even the same broker?

Who cares about all that? I guess a savvy buyer could care if they were hoping to pay the lowest price they can negotiate for the home they want to buy. And a seller can certainly care when deciding how to price their home or how to respond to an offer to purchase that is below their asking price. It matters a great deal. And yes, I too lament the lost old days when price was not the first, second and third priority!

My line today is to urge you to ask lots of questions and get to the bottom of the pile of information that you have available to you as a buyer or seller of Santa Fe real estate. What’s your line?

Posted in Home Values, Posts & Updates, Santa Fe area real estate, Statistical Data - Santa Fe real estate market and tagged , , , , .

The writer is a 68 year-old young man engaged as an active REALTOR (associate broker) with Keller Williams, in real estate sales and management in the Santa Fe NM market area. My career has been in and around the real estate industry for more than 35 years, ranging from mortgage lending (interim, commercial, residential); residential property management and leasing; shopping center development and leasing; real estate sales; sales training; title insurance as an executive and an escrow officer; various management positions; consulting and other related activities. That plus a bunch of banking experience including our family-owned Bank of Santa Fe in the 1980s. Where has the time gone?
My background means you have my working knowledge of the entire transaction process at your disposal. That comes with honesty and no bullshit.