Housing market improving over 2014, broker says

James Fenton
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — San Juan County is a buyer's market, a local real estate broker says.

San Juan County home sales are showing a slight improvement over 2014, area real estate agents say.

Family homes under $200,000 are leading those sales, according to Julie Blair, broker-owner of Golden Door Realty in Farmington and the director for the state realtor association.

"I think we are pretty steady from last year," Blair said on Friday. "We don't have quite the inventory as last year, but I still see it as a buyer's market."

Last year in San Juan County, there were about 600 listings for properties on the market, of which 104 were under negotiations for sale.

By the end of May this year, that number hovered around 500 active listings for sale in the area with 85 of them under negotiations for sale, Blair said.

But commercial properties, a fraction of the market, are another story, she added.

More people are preferring to lease commercial properties rather than purchase them, she said.

"Commercial buildings have not been doing well on sales," Blair said. "We've had a few buildings sitting with not much moving. The oil and gas slowdown has accounted for it."

A building situated directly behind Blair's Main Street office is a perfect example, she said.

The property, the old Skateland building, which boasts 6,000 square feet, still sits empty except four nights a week when it springs to life during Zumba classes, she said.

The property has been on the market for three years, and despite several price reductions has yet to sell. Blair said the current asking price is $450,000.

More new business owners either prefer to or can only afford to lease the commercial space they need, a trend Blair said she has noted over the last decade or more.

Kara Wood, owner of Kirtland Realty and president of the San Juan County Board of Realtors, echoed Blair's "steady and stable" reading of the local market.

"My evaluation is that the market is stable in our area and that we are improving in that homes this year are spending less time on the market, 137 days' average as compared to 194 days' average a year ago," Wood said in an email. "The good news is that listings that have sold in the last month have been on the market for an average of 90 days. This indicates that properties are selling quicker now than they have at any point in the last year."

Another indication of the area's stability, Wood said, is the asking price.

"Homes are selling for about 96 percent of the asking price," Wood said. "This indicates that through the negotiation process, sellers do not need to offer steep concessions in order to sell. Generally, it appears that the market is at least as strong as last year, and in some regards, better."

As of last week, there were a total of 1,136 properties — residential, land, commercial and multi-family — for sale in San Juan County, according to the San Juan County Board of REALTORS' multiple listing service.

Of those, 521 were residential listings. A fraction represented foreclosed properties.

"Only 6 percent, or 32 homes, are bank-owned, meaning that they have gone through foreclosure. Four percent are pending foreclosure," Wood said. "Statistically, the percentages of foreclosed homes or distressed properties is very similar in 2015 as compared to 2014."

Another portion of those listed, 13 percent, fall under a category called "short sales," Wood said. Those involve properties for sale that are valued below what the current owner owes on the mortgage.

James Fenton is the business editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621 and jfenton@daily-times.com. Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.