FARMINGTON — Home sales in San Juan County rose 15 percent during the six-month period ending in March, providing some momentum to the real estate market as it enters its busiest time of year.
Between October and March, 327 homes sold in the county, up from 284 a year earlier.
"Buyers are looking to buy," said Theresa McBee, president of the San Juan County Board of Realtors. "They're off the fence, so to speak."
But the median price of homes sold fell to $142,300 in March, the lowest figure in at least 18 months. And only 44 homes sold during the month, down from 72 in March 2012. Listings were on the market for 117 days on average — about four months.
However, despite some softness in March, the longer trend is a positive one, experts said.
"I believe the market is on an upward climb," said McBee, owner-broker at Century 21 SoWesCo Realty in Farmington. "Our office is just busy right and left, and we see a great summer coming up."
Statewide, the median price rose 8.2 percent in March to $172,000. Los Alamos County had the most expensive home sales, averaging $393,500. That was followed by Santa Fe County at $297,000, according to the Realtors Association of New Mexico.
More real estate sells in spring and early summer when school ends and families decide to move. In 2012, March was San Juan County's busiest month with 72 transactions, followed by May and June with 69 sales each.
McBee pointed to continued low interest rates as one attraction for buyers. Rates are now hovering at about 3.5 percent for a 30-year fixed mortgage.
Nationwide in March, home sales rose 10.3 percent compared to a year earlier. Compared to February, sales dropped 0.6 percent, a decline the National Association of Realtors blamed on tight inventory.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, said market conditions "continue to broadly favor sellers."
"We need a housing supply of over six months to have a generally balanced market between home buyers and sellers, but it's unlikely we'll get there without greater increases in housing construction," Yun said in a prepared statement.
Locally, there are some signs of increasing interest in multifamily housing. The city of Farmington has received an application to build two apartment buildings with a total of 40 apartments at 401 Nelson Ave.
"We have investors that are looking at that segment right now," McBee said.
Chuck Slothower can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4638. Follow him on Twitter @DTChuck.