Lots of homes available, and the buyers are selective

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FARMINGTON — A drive across town shows the signs of the times. Real estate signs literally dot the landscape.

Some are placed by real estate agents. In at least one case, a modest sign was posted by a homeowner.

Most represent the property owners’ hope of getting a fair price. That, and the real estate agent’s hope for a good commission. What they don't represent is a stagnant market.

While the real estate market has seen ups and downs over the past 13 months — and right now has experienced another statistical “down” pricewise —  the numbers are a snapshot in time, and the picture they paint is complex.

“The average sold price in July is at the low to middle side of the value range for the past 13 months; however, the average sold price for June is on the higher end of the range," San Juan County Assessor Jimmy Voita said via email. "The real estate market is not static and it is common to see trends like this,”
“The median sold price is on the lower side of the value range; however, median is a measure of central tendency indicating that a larger number properties in the $165,000 range have been sold,” Voita continued. “The data does indicate that there is currently a larger inventory of active listings and new listings have increased.”

One broker says the reality is that people are indeed buying homes. But with so many properties on the market, buyers are being very selective.

“They’re not settling,” said real estate broker Liz Tafoya of Farmington’s Tafoya Realty.

“Sales are good,” she said Aug. 24. Tafoya said many properties are in contract, and everyone in her office is busy. 

Retirees are a major part of the clientele, Tafoya said, and she’s getting a lot of referrals from real estate agents for people who are retiring and moving to the area.

A primary draw? “They love the weather here,” she said.

Figures compiled by the San Juan County Board of Realtors show an overall increase in active listings and a marked decrease last month in price, meaning more homes sold in July than most months, but at a lower price than in previous months. 

The number of homes listed is at a 13-month high, with roughly 14 percent more homes offered in July 2017 than were available in July 2016.

“I’m going to have to say it’s going very well,” said 26-year real estate veteran Chuck Holmes, who has spent 22 of those years at San Juan Realty. “Investors are starting to buy multi-family units.”

Holmes said the drop recently in average home prices means it’s still a buyer’s market with plenty of available inventory, but he thinks that will gradually change.

“We’re getting a lot of people moving in from out of town,” Holmes said. He noted that the rental market is also booming, with some new renters going to work at the PNM San Juan Generating Station. 

The numbers
The Board of Realtors posted stats for the past 13 months that show ups and downs, and a continuing trend toward higher inventory.

In July 2016, 78 units sold at an average price of $190,378. They sold after an average of 87 days on the market. There were 117 new listings that month and 579 properties in the Multiple Listing Service across the county.

In July 2017, 84 properties sold, six more than in July 2016, but at an average price of $180,869. That’s a drop of $9,509 on average per sale. But the homes that sold in July 2017 were on the market for just 54 days on average — 33 days less than in July 2016.
In other words, they may be moving like hotcakes, but there are more to choose from this July compared to last July — and they cost less.

The number of listed residential properties has grown steadily since July 2016, when 579 homes active listings were on the board, 117 of those new listings.

Fast forward 13 months to July 2017, and there are 661 active listings, 168 of them new listings. That’s 51 more homes actively listed in July 2017 than in July 2016, although throughout those 13 months the number of active listings dropped to a low of 493 in December 2016, when just 51 properties sold.

Reflecting the regional market’s ups and downs, two months stood out — October 2016 with an average sale price of $195,424, and September 2016, with an average sale price per home of $208,294. June 2017 was also a high mark with average sales at $207,420.

Sales were fewer during those months, ranging between 60 and 71 per month, and there were 100 fewer properties listed in October 2016 than in July of 2017.

The San Juan County’s Assessor's Office lists a taxable value on the county's residential properties exceeding $4.1 billion.

"The total number of residential accounts that the Assessor’s office has is 30,315," Voita wrote via email. " Please note, this includes site built homes, mobile home lots, farms with residences on them, manufactured homes on permanent foundations, apartments, and commercial/residential mixed properties.The number does not include mobile homes which are not permanently affixed."

Contact John R. Moses via email at jmoses@daily-times.com, or call (505) 564-4624.

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