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2013 was a Year of Slow, Steady Progress for Santa Fe

St. Francis Cathedral

St. Francis Cathedral

This article originally appeared in The New Mexican on December 30, 2013 and is syndicated from The New Mexican.

By Bruce Krasnow, The New Mexican, December 30, 2013

Except for the stock market, nothing else bounced in the Santa Fe business community this past year.  But for most entrepreneurs, job seekers and homebuyers, 2013 was a year of slow and steady progress. There were more home sales, new renovation and change downtown, and a healthy tourism industry that filled more hotel rooms and restaurants.  Job and income growth, however, are still lacking in New Mexico as the state economy is still tethered to federal government hiring and spending — and that is not likely to change in the coming year.

Here are the ups and downs of the 2013 business year in Santa Fe:

Residential real estate

With December numbers still to be counted, it is almost certain that 2013 will bring the most residential home sales in Santa Fe County since 2007. The lower end of the market was especially strong, with more than 100 sales per month for homes under $500,000 — a seven-year high. In the higher-end market, sales picked up in October, and the year saw the most $1 million-plus sales since 2008, according to data provided by Alan Ball of Keller Williams Santa Fe.

At the end of the third quarter, the Santa Fe Association of Realtors reported that year-to-date home sales were up 8 percent, while the total dollar volume of sold real estate in the third quarter rose 18 percent to $187 million from $158 million.

“Do you hear that hum,” the association wrote in October. “That’s the delightful sound of normalcy: Buyers are buying, sellers are selling. Sure this varies from region to region, even city to city, but by and large things are returning to normal.”

Though more homes are selling, it isn’t necessarily the case that prices have climbed. In the 12-month period ending in October, for instance, New Mexico was the only state to see a price decline, although it was a slight 0.5 percent, according to CoreLogic, a firm that tracks real estate trends.

“The consensus is growing that prices bottomed in February of last year. The rebound has been strongest in the Western states — primarily California, Nevada and Arizona. That said, of the 100 distinct markets that CoreLogic measures, 99 showed year-over-year gains. Only New Mexico reported a drop,” wrote the website marketrealist.com on Dec. 4.

Construction

Most of the construction activity in 2013 was in the non-residential sector, which is seeing a 40 percent growth in permitting activity from a year ago, according to McGraw Hill Construction. A good chunk of that is probably the result of two large downtown hotel projects — La Fonda’s renovation and the Drury Hotel project on Paseo de Peralta between Alameda Street and Palace Avenue.

Smaller developments on Cerrillos Road brought a new CVS pharmacy and Ashley Furniture store as well as the continued development of Las Soleras, where a McDonald’s and Starbucks took shape across from the Wal-mart Supercenter.

On the horizon for 2014 will be a string of health care-related projects: an outpatient clinic by Presbyterian Healthcare Services on St. Michael’s Drive; a new Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic at Las Soleras and a south-side primary care center by Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center.

The main Christus hospital on St. Michael’s Drive also is committed to more renovation as it converts patient rooms to single occupancy and is planning an expansion of its intensive care and cardio care units.

All eyes will also be on the main U.S. Post Office in downtown Santa Fe to see what happens to the 30,000-square-foot space. Postal Service administrators said they were negotiating with a new landlord — one possible location is the old Borders space in Sanbusco Market Center — but were not prepared to release further details, a spokesman said in early December.

If the post office relocated, that would leave a large vacant space in the federal building, just a block from the now-empty state District Court building on Catron Street, which is owned by Santa Fe County.

The downtown retail landscape also saw a big change this fall with the closing of the longtime Packard’s on the Plaza store. The new owners, Scott and Karen Malouf, opened a new retail business in the space during Thanksgiving week.

Tourism and hospitality

The biggest positive note on the jobs front was the resurgence of the leisure and hospitality sector — both in Santa Fe and statewide — as renewed interest in cultural tourism and the Breaking Bad cable series sparked increased interest in New Mexico.

The tangible results have been tourism growth — hiring in the sector has now surpassed prerecession levels — and hotel occupancy levels are ahead of last year.

Statewide, occupancy reached 61 percent through November, up from 59 percent a year ago. In Santa Fe, yearly occupancy stood at 64.8 percent at the end of November, up from 59.8 percent a year ago, according to the Rocky Mountain Lodging Report.

Finally, the city of Santa Fe has seen a rebound in the amount of gross receipts tax it collects from economic activity. The tax is the broadest measure of local spending by both residents and tourists, and captures everything from retail purchases to contract work, private tutoring, art purchases and real estate commissions. In the first six month of the 2013-14 fiscal year, GRT collections are up almost $3 million from a year ago, a 6.7 percent boost.

Better still, for the first time the revenue is tracking about where it was for the first six months of the prerecession 2007-08 fiscal year.

“The fact that the increases are spread out over almost the entire range of categories is a good sign for the overall improvement of the local economy from a year ago,” city Finance Director Marcos Tapia said in an email. “We know there was concern about the possible impact of the 16-day federal furlough in October, but if it affected us, it is hard to identify in these numbers.

“While the trend this fiscal year has been surprisingly strong, the February GRT report containing Christmas and Holiday spending will still be of major importance since that is consistently the largest monthly GRT amount of the year.”

 

Santa Fe Neighborhoods – Focus on Las Campanas

Las Campanas

Las Campanas

Located 10 miles northwest of the Plaza on a high plateau overlooking the Santa Fe Valley, Las Campanas  is a master-planned residential community containing 1,717 home sites spread over approximately 4,730 acres.  Las Campanas was developed by Lyle Anderson in the 1980s as a luxury, amenity laden development and was a part of his golf course resort empire, which included Desert Highlands and Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, AZ, Superstition Mountain near Phoenix, AZ,  Hokuli’a in Hawaii and Loch Lomond Golf Club in Scotland.

Golf course at Las Campanas

Golf course at Las Campanas

Las Campanas has two Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses, the Sunrise Course built in 1993 and the Sunset Course built in 2000, an Equestrian Center, a full service Spa and Tennis Center and the Hacienda Clubhouse.  Enjoying magnificent views of the Sangre de Cristo, Jemez, Ortiz and Sandia mountains, this gated community is a favorite destination for golfers, tennis players, horseback riders and owners that want to enjoy a peaceful and serene southwestern lifestyle.  Bright sunshine, dry, cool mountain air and spectacular sunrises and sunsets are features of daily life here.

There are 17 distinctive neighborhoods in Las Campanas, which are generally divided up into various areas termed “Estates”.  The lower number Estates generally tend to be closer to downtown, while the higher numbered Estates tend to be further away.  Depending on where you are in Las Campanas, it is about a 15 to 25 minute drive to downtown Santa Fe.

Las Campanas homes are built in a variety of architectural styles, including Spanish pueblo, territorial, contemporary, ranch, log cabin and northern New Mexico pitched roof.   Homes range from approximately 1,600 square feet to over 12,000 square feet in size and are generally one level.  The majority of homes are between 3,000 square feet and 5,000 square fett in size.  Lot sizes range from approximately ¼ acre sites to over 5 acres and prices range from the low $400,000s to over $10 million.

The Design Review Board at Las Campanas helps to maintain consistency in the aesthetic character of the neighborhoods. Courtyards, gates, beamed ceilings, hand troweled plaster, portal covered outdoor spaces and beautifully landscaped gardens are traditional features of Las Campanas homes

LAS CAMPANAS HOMES

If you would like to know more about any of the homes for sale in the Las Campanas Area or for a free market analysis of how much your home is worth, contact me, Karen Meredith, Keller Williams, by e-mail or at (505) 603-3036.

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City Home Prices Down 17%, Sales Up in Santa Fe

10-A ABs Road Front Entrance, a beautiful home for sale in Chupadero.  See my listings for more information.

10-A ABs Road Front Entrance, a beautiful home for sale in Chupadero. See my listings for more information.

Posted: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 12:16 pm | Updated: 1:04 pm, Wed Apr 10, 2013.

By Chris Quintana The New Mexican | This article was syndicated from The New Mexican, for the original article.

The median sales price of homes sold in the city of Santa Fe during the first quarter of 2013 fell nearly 17 percent from the same period last year, according to figures released by the Santa Fe Association of Realtors on Wednesday morning.

But the number of homes sold increased more than 10 percent from 133 to 147.

The average price of single-family homes sold in the city during the first three months of the year was $245,000 compared to $295,000 in 2012.

In the county, average single-family home prices declined about 1.6 percent from $385,000 to $379,000, and the number of sales fell 5 percent.

The quarterly report also shows that inventory is drying up.

The total number of homes available in city and county declined from 2,204 in the first quarter of 2012 to 1,287 in the first quarter of this year — a 41.6 percent drop.

Victoria Murphy, the president of Santa Fe Association of Realtors, said homes on the south side of town starting to sell. “We’re starting to see less inventory there, and that’s good,” she said.

Condo and town home sales declined from 65 units in 2012 to 62 units in 2013, but median prices were up to $212,500 in 2013 compared to $191,600 in 2012.

Housing permits are down as well, according to figures provided by Reed Liming, the director of the city’s Long-range Planning Division. In 2012’s first quarter, the city issued 105 residential building permits, compared to 2013 when it issued 41 permits.

But the 2012 figure included 61 permits for multifamily housing projects. When that number is discounted, the number of permits is more similar — 44 in 2012 and 41 this year.

The county’s building permits have stayed the same with 23 in the first quarter of both 2012 and 2013.

Liming said he expects the city to issue between 180 and 200 building permits and the county around 100 permits by the end of the year — about the same as last year.

But Liming said once the housing market in Santa Fe becomes even tighter, new construction should increase.

“We’re seeing the lag between the existing housing market and new construction,” he said.

On the brighter side, Scott Robinson, the branch manager of Gateway Mortgage Group, said he’s seeing fewer people refinancing existing mortgages and more seeking loans for new home purchases.

He said there has been an increase in the number of Federal Housing Administration loans and in the United States Department of Veterans Affairs’ home loans. He also said he has seen an increase in first-time homeowners.

 

2012 Santa Fe homes sales on pace to be best in five years

The New Mexican reported on August 11, 2012 that the summer of 2012 so far represents a rebound for residential sales in Santa Fe County.

The 158 residential sales in June were the highest number of closed transactions in 57 months. July’s sales total of 143 showed the trend continuing. Barring unforeseen circumstances, such as another financial crises, total sales in 2012 are on pace to be the best since 2007.

The total number of sales in the first seven months of 2012, 879, represents a 14 percent increase over 2011 and a 40 percent increase from 2009.

The sales have occurred in all price ranges. There have been 42 residential sales of $1 million or higher so far this year, and 366 sales at $300,000 or below according to statistics complied by Alan Ball, local real estate statistician guru.

The New Mexican observed that “Though the boost is helping the overall economy — with more business for agents, appraisers and inspectors, and increased revenue for local governments that collect gross receipts taxes — it does not necessarily mean jubilant sellers, since prices have not significantly increased from the bottom.

In the second quarter of 2012, the median sales price in the city and county combined had declined 6.8 percent from a year ago. And overall in Santa Fe County, the typical home has lost 30 percent of its value from the top of the market in 2007, according to some estimates.

That has led to a smaller inventory of homes as more owners refinance and stay put, waiting for prices to climb — especially as interest rates have remained low. At the end of June, for instance, there were 1,571 homes on the market countywide — a decrease of 19 percent from a year earlier, according to the Santa Fe Association of Realtors.

For those looking to buy, there is a new database to determine the average closing costs on a $200,000 loan in New Mexico. According to Bankrate.com, which surveyed five to 10 lenders in each state, those average costs total $3,617, including $435 for an appraisal, $495 for processing and $1,058 for the origination fee on the loan. In New Mexico, the average cost of a title search and insurance on a $200,000 loan is $1,434, according to Bankrate.

The 50-state average for closing fees is $3,754, with New York highest at $5,435 and Missouri the lowest at $3,006.”

To view the Bankrate.com website.

Original article by:

Bruce Krasnow | The New Mexican
Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012

CNNMoney names Santa Fe one of the Best Places to Retire Now

CNNMoney has named Santa Fe one of the Best Places to Retire Now.

By Anne VanderMey, reporter @FortuneMagazine, Posted June 20, 2012.  To read the original article in its entirety.

As reported by CNNMoney:

“Blue skies and mild winters don’t always have to mean Florida or Arizona. Santa Fe gets 325 days of sunshine per year, there are eight major golf courses in the area, and it’s a stone’s throw from a major mountain range: The Sangre de Cristo Mountains offer skiing, hiking, and spectacular views. It also has culture to spare: The city is packed with galleries and features a buzzing contemporary art scene, an internationally renowned opera, and an award-winning restaurant lineup.

No wonder, then, that in recent years Santa Fe has become an increasingly popular destination for retirees (and celebrities like Gene Hackman and Tom Ford). Housing isn’t cheap in the desirable center of town, where houses start at about $400,000, local realtors say. But closer to the outskirts, buyers can find classic pueblo-style homes for as little as $150,000.

Santa Fe has also held up well relative to other sun-drenched spots during the housing crisis. Employment here now outpaces the national average, and Fiserv Case-Shiller estimates that it will be one of the strongest housing markets over the next few years, with an annualized increase of 7.6% through 2016.”

American Lung Association Reports Santa Fe Air Ranks Among the Country’s Cleanest

By Staci Matlock | The New Mexican
Posted: Sunday, April 22, 2012  To read the original article in its entirety.

Breathe deeply, Santa Feans.

The City Different and Santa Fe County has some of the cleanest air in America, according to the American Lung Association.

That’s excellent news for children, elderly and people with asthma, cardiovascular disease and emphysema who are most at risk of health problems when they breath polluted air. An estimated third of Santa Fe County’s population falls into one of those categories.

The association analyzed data from 2007 to 2010 related to ozone and particles emitted from vehicle tailpipes, power generating stations, mining, manufacturing and more. The association has analyzed air quality in U.S. cities for the last dozen years and published the results in annual State of the Air reports.

The reports rank cities based on levels of ozone, short-term particle pollution and long-term particle pollution. Santa Fe joined Honolulu as the only cities who were on the association’s “cleanest air” list in all three categories from 2007-2010, the period for which data was analyzed.

Santa Fe earned an A for low ozone and 24-hour particle pollution, and it passed the annual particle pollution category.

Particles are mixtures of chemicals and materials floating around in air. Some are so tiny they can’t be seen without an electron microscope. Some are thinner than a strand of hair.

Smoke, dust, pollen and gas fumes are just a few of the particles launched into the air by wind, plants, power generation and wildfires. People inhale the particles with air. People cough out the larger particles, but smaller particles can get trapped in lung tissue, causing illness.

Ozone, another dangerous lung irritant analyzed by the American Lung Association, also comes from a mixture of gases produced by cars, smokestacks and burning coal. The gases — nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds — when combined with sunlight and warmth, produce harmful ozone in the lower atmosphere.

Children, people older than 65, those who like to exercise outdoors and people who have existing lung problems such as asthma are more susceptible to the ill effects of elevated ozone levels. People exposed to high levels of ozone can suffer wheezing, chest pain, asthma attacks and respiratory infections.

The American Lung Association report notes that while air quality has improved overall around the country, 1 in 17 Americans (18.5 million total) live around unhealthy levels of ozone and particles.

Santa Fe area home sales up, while median prices decline

By Chris Quintana | The New Mexican
Posted: Thursday, July 12, 2012, this article was syndicated from The New Mexican, click here for the original article

The median sales price for homes in the Santa Fe area — including both the city and the county — dropped 6.8 percent between the second quarter of 2011 and the second quarter of 2012, the Santa Fe Association of Realtors reported Thursday.

The median sales price in the combined city and county data for the second quarter of 2011 was $359,000 compared to $334,450 for the first quarter of 2012.

Dan Wright, 2012 president of the Santa Fe Association of Realtors, attributed that change to the gradual drop in the market since the peak in 2007, when the median price hit about $420,000.

“We’re at the tail end of the decline in the market,” he said. “Personally, I don’t think it will continue to go down at this point.”

The total number of homes sold in the second quarter rose by 5.6 percent, from 318 units in 2011 to 336 units in 2012.

But the total value of those home sales sank from $151.9 million in 2011’s second quarter to $144.9 million in 2012’s second quarter, which Wright said creates a more advantageous market for buyers.

Second-quarter sales of condos and townhomes also rose, to 74 units from 60 units. The median price rose from $237,188 to $245,000. Wright said low interest rates may have helped boost the market.

“The Santa Fe housing market is picking up with sales modestly over last year,” he said. “The historically low interest rates are helping to get buyers motivated.”

The inventory of available homes sank by 15 percent in comparison to the second quarter of last year. Coleen Dearing, vice president of the association, said that can be attributed to people pulling their homes off the market or people who have decided to take advantage of low refinancing rates. Dearing also said the increase in home sales has affected the inventory rate.

Also notable, the number of young homeowners, in the 23 to 25 age range, has risen for the first time in five years, according to Gilbert Garcia, a mortgage professional with Century Bank. He said organizations that can help lower the down payment, such as the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority or the Santa Fe Housing Trust, coupled with low mortgage rates, have helped young people get into the housing market.

Garcia added that banks are indeed lending, though the process requires more documentation of financial information than in years past.

“It’s not harder,” he said. “It’s just more.”

Garcia also said banks in the area have seen the foreclosure rate slow down while the refinancing of mortgages and new purchases of homes have been on the rise.

“The number of foreclosures is not leveling off, but it’s slowed down a bit,” he said. “But it’s going to get tougher before it gets easier.”

 

 

First Quarter 2012 – Santa Fe Home Sales Are Up While Inventory Is Down

According to the latest figures from the Santa Fe Association of Realtors, the number of sales is up and the number of properties for sale is down.   During the first three months of 2012, there were 249 sales of single-family homes in the City and County of Santa Fe, up 16.4 percent from 214 sales in the City and County of Santa Fe in first three months of 2011.  The inventory of all available properties for sale during the last quarter was 1,413, down 17.1 percent from the first quarter of 2011, which was down 17.2 percent from the first quarter of 2010.

During a presentation Wednesday, April 11, 2012, association officers said the statistics from the first quarter of 2012 show:

• Santa Fe housing prices remain low, compared to their high point in the second quarter of 2008.

• The upswing in the number of sales is due to low prices, low interest rates and buyer concerns that both prices and rates could  soon go up.

• Fewer properties are on the market which may be due to sellers taking advantage of low interest rate to refinance, allowing them to hold off in hopes that sales prices will improve.

“There’s a substantial uptick in the number of people looking for houses and some increase in the number of sales,” said association President Dan H. Wright.

Association President-elect Victoria Murphy, added that a number of people from out of state who had been looking for a home in Santa Fe recently have decided to go ahead with purchasing because they think both prices and interest rates soon will rise.

The median sales price of a single-family dwelling in both the city and county in the first quater of 2012 was $352,000, which is down less than 1 percent from $355,000 in the first quarter of 2011.  In a press release accompanying the first quater data Mr. Wright observed, “The Santa Fe single family housing market continues to stablize when you look at prices with sales up modestly over last year.”

Santa Fe Realtors Association officers say if the inventory of available housing continues to fall, it will push the median prices up.

The recent figures also show a 8.4% decrease in the number of days properties remain on the market, 247 days, compared to 270 days a year earlier.


Report: S.F. housing more affordable

By Tom Sharpe| The New Mexican Posted: Friday, February 24, 2012.  This article is syndicated from The New Mexican, for a complete copy of the original article, click here.

The recent economic recession has made Santa Fe housing more affordable, says a report released Friday by the Santa Fe Association of Realtors.

“For the first time in years,” the report says, Santa Fe’s median household income is enough to qualify for the purchase of a median-priced home.

“The market rates of homes have declined which does, unfortunately, negatively affect current homeowners’ investments,” it says, “yet the result is a larger number of affordably priced homes in Santa Fe.”

The report, 2011 Affordable Housing in Santa Fe, cites how the economic collapse in late 2008 led to the loss of 4,600 jobs, increased unemployment rates, poverty rates and foreclosure rates while decreasing median incomes.

But the recession caused the median price of reported real-estate sales to drop from an all-time high of $425,000 in 2007 to $330,000 for the third quarter of 2011, says the report.

“There are a considerable number of re-sale homes on the open market at low prices that were unimaginable a few short years ago,” it says. In addition to the lower median prices, the report notes that prevailing interest rates also have fallen, although lenders have become stricter in qualifying borrowers, sometimes requiring larger down payments than before.

The report says that even though there is little residential building under way in Santa Fe, nonprofits have been able to pull together funding from federal sources, grants and tax credits to increase the number of affordable-housing units:

110 units at the Santa Fe Civic Housing Authority’s new Villa Alegre compound;

60 rental units for the Housing Trust’s Village Sage;

60 rental units at the old Stage Coach Inn on Cerrillos Road have been approved for the Housing Trust;

Habitat for Humanity has acquired eight townhouse lots and has started construction on four townhouses.

The report was researched and written by Jeri Chenelle, a former government-affairs officer for the Realtors Association of New Mexico, with funding by the state association and the National Association of Realtors.

Victoria Murphy, president-elect of the Santa Fe Association of Realtors and an associate broker at Santa Fe Properties, said the idea for the affordable-housing study began when the city proposed a 1 percent “transfer tax” on the sale of homes priced at $750,000 and up. Voters rejected the tax in 2009.

“Obviously, as Realtors, we were in opposition to that, but we did come to [the city] and say, ‘Look, we understand that there is a need here,’ and in that, we found out that at times the city didn’t know how many affordable homes they actually had,” she said. “So our thing was, ‘Let’s find a way that we can have a database that we can find out exactly what’s out there and what the needs are.’ ”

Murphy said her biggest surprise was finding out how many “stakeholders” are involved in affordable housing — not only the nonprofit housing groups, but also the many construction companies that specialize in affordable housing. An extensive list of stakeholders are included in the report.

Both the City Council and the County Commission recently lowered requirements for including affordable homes in new subdivisions. But Murphy said the report’s findings don’t suggest the need for further easing of affordable housing requirements.

“The whole idea is just saying, ‘OK, this is what we have out there,’ ” she said. “How can we start promoting this so we don’t have this perception that Santa Fe is unaffordable to our workforce?”

The Atlantic names Santa Fe Most Artistic City in America, November 30, 2011

Richard Florida, Senior Editor of The Atlantic, posed the question in November, 2011 “which U.S. cities and metros have the most extensive artistic communities?”

With the help of Kevin Stolarick from the Martin Prosperity Institute,  he used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to rank the leading metros areas for their numbers of artists and the artists’ concentration relative to their population. They determined there are about 237,000 artists across the U.S., of which roughly 210,000 are located in cities and metro areas, in the category “artists and related orkers”, which covers both employed and self-employed visual artists in the United States:.

As expected, the list of the top cities with the largest number of artists tended to follow population size.  New York was first in total number of artists, followed by Los Angeles, Chicago came in third, San Francisco in fourth and Seattle in fifth place.

But when the author examined which metros have the largest concentration of artists relative to their population, the results were different. Using a measure called a “location quotient,” or LQ,  a ratio that compares a region’s share of artists to the national share of artists, Santa Fe came in first.

An LQ of one implies that its regional share equals the national average; less than one is less than the national average and greater than one is more than the national average. An LQ of two, for example, means a region has twice the national average of artists.  Santa Fe’s LQ was a whopping 7.587, almost double its closest competitor, San Fransciso, which had an LQ of 3.825, followed by New York at 2.573 and Los Angeles at 2.513.

Thanks to Richard Florida for quantifying what is immediately apparent the moment one sets foot in Santa Fe.  Art and beauty are everywhere!

To read the complete article, Most Artistic Cities in America.