Fewer houses for sale in Santa Fe

By on Thu, Apr 11, 2013

The inventory of houses for sale in Santa Fe shrank by 41.6 percent in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the same period last year, according to statistics released by the Santa Fe Association of Realtors on Wednesday.

The number of properties available for sale dropped from 2,204 in the first quarter of 2012 to 1,287 this year.

Victoria Murphy, president of the Realtors association, said the trend spells good news for sellers.

“And it means that buyers need to get off the fence,” she said. “Buyers don’t have as big a selection as they used to have.”

Murphy said the decrease in inventory shows that buyers are anxious to capture the good deals still available as the housing market recovers from the economic recession.

In a three-year trend, inventory has decreased nearly every quarter since the middle of 2010, when nearly 2,900 properties were on the market.

“A first home buyer tax credit went into effect about that time. That really got a lot of first-time home buyers out to purchase,” she explained. “And that was followed by another tax credit for purchasing. We had a lot of people that took advantage of that.”

Murphy said real estate agents are also hearing from bankers that there’s no “shadow inventory” to speak of. She said shadow inventory reflects prospective sellers holding back from putting their homes on the market.

“We had been hearing that banks were waiting until after the (presidential) election to release the foreclosures they have,” she said. “But, no, we’re hearing now that they don’t have shadow inventories. They are putting it out as fast as they’re getting it.”

The number of days a home stays on the market is also declining, Murphy said.

A year ago, the average was 247 days. Through the first quarter of this year, the average was 201 days.

“Banks are able to close a little sooner than they had in the past. All of their people are getting more used to regulations, so sellers can sell faster,” she said.

Overall, there was a modest gain in home sales throughout Santa Fe County, with 251 sold in the first quarter of 2012 and 259 sold this year, a 2.7 percent increase.

The median price of a single-family home in the city of Santa Fe fell by 16.9 percent during the first quarter, from $295,000 in 2012 to $245,000 this year. But Murphy said that doesn’t mean the values of homes are decreasing, noting that numbers can be skewed by the sale of a high-priced home.

In the county, the median price for a single-family home decreased by just 1.6 percent, from $385,000 to $379,000.

The exception is Eldorado, where 26 single-family homes were sold during the first quarter in both 2012 and 2013. However, the median price increased by 20.6 percent, from $294,000 to $354,500.

Within the city limits, the greatest growth continued to be on the southwest side. Sixty-one single-family homes were sold during the first three months of 2012, compared to 82 during the same period this year, a 34.4 percent increase.

“We have a lot of construction and new homes being built in that area, with Rancho Viejo and Vista Bonita off of Rufina,” Murphy said. “Those are also very affordable homes at about $200,000.”

The median sale price in that part of town remained relatively steady, increasing 1.6 percent to $198,750.

Murphy said there are other pockets of town where there is a high demand for homes.

“We’re seeing a lot of people wanting to purchase in the South Capital area,” she said, adding there’s still a demand for Santa Fe style. “They want Santa Fe soul, they want old Santa Fe, which shows we’re getting more educated buyers coming in.”

Murphy said the quarterly report gives people reason to be optimistic about Santa Fe’s housing market.

“It’s looking good for both buyers and sellers; it’s looking good for Santa Fe,” she said. “Hopefully, we’ll have more inventory this summer.”