Santa Fe home sales down 36%, but prices still increase

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Santa Fe County, N.M., real estate was on a wild ride in the second quarter, and not just because single-family home sales dropped 36% for April, May and June with the COVID-19 pandemic redefining life this spring.

Closed sales sunk 33% in the city of Santa Fe and 39% in the county, but median sales prices rose 3% to $383,500 in the city and 4.1% to $509,950 in the county, according to the Santa Fe Association of Realtors' quarterly statistics for the second quarter.

The city and county saw a 4.7% increase in single-family home prices, while condo/townhome prices slid 2.2%.

But an expert said a full quarter does not tell the full story, because prospective buyers from out of town — apparently recovering from the shock the virus has placed on the economy — still see the area as a potential haven.

"The heavy hit occurred in April and May," said Gregg Antonsen, senior vice president at Sotheby's International Realty Santa Fe. "June is looking positive. We at Sotheby's had more homes sold in June than last year."

Sotheby's broker Ricky Allen saw just a two-week paralysis among buyers and sellers in late March.

"After about two weeks, people started to come to grips that they needed to buy and sell," Allen said. "You would not believe how busy it is. I am shot. I am surprised at the number of buyers that want to move to Santa Fe now."

Clearly, fewer people were buying and selling homes, but a greater number of buyers were shopping than sellers were listing.

"It's a sellers' market, and people are buying," Allen said.

The Santa Fe market had 523 new home listings in the second quarter, the lowest number of listings for that period since the association started keeping records in 2005. The second quarter each year has the most new listings, typically more than 700.

This translated to a 2.7-month inventory of homes, which in the real estate industry is considered exceptionally low. A six-month supply in Santa Fe is considered a balanced market between buyers and sellers. Santa Fe has not had a six-month supply of homes on the market since the third quarter in 2017, according to association statistics.

Allen said big-city buyers are definitely the majority of his clients.

"It's L.A., it's Dallas, it's Houston, it's San Antonio, it's even Denver," Allen said. "We are a value proposition [with cheaper housing than most of those cities]. People have been quarantining and holed up and have a new appreciation for blue skies and fresh air."

For the second quarter, each of the 10 sectors of the city and county saw double-digit decreases of at least 24% in closed sales, with a 30% drop in the Southwest sector, which sells nearly twice as many homes as any other sector.

At the same time, nine of 10 sectors saw home price increases, typically in the 2.9% to 9% range, with only the tony, high-priced Northeast sector recording a 3.1% drop from median sales prices of $800,000 in spring 2019 to $775,000 during the pandemic season, according to the association.

"Buyers coming here looking for a bargain are finding out there are a lot of other buyers," Antonsen said. "They have to compete."

Tribune Content Agency