Homes are selling quickly at record prices in Santa Fe — and Angel Fire, Silver City, Alamogordo and Ruidoso.
New Mexico Association of Realtors statistics show robust increases in home sales and home prices from 2019 to now in nearly all of the state’s 33 counties.
New Mexico — not just Santa Fe — has become an escape hatch for big-city folks in neighboring states and beyond.
People are flocking to New Mexico to retire, work from home or just not be in Texas, Colorado and California anymore.
Think of New Mexico as one big city with different neighborhoods: the high-end neighborhoods, rustic neighborhoods, resort neighborhoods and neighborhoods where people without sky-high incomes and savings might be able to afford a house.
All these “neighborhoods” are finding appeal in the COVID-19 era for people in other states and even within New Mexico. If any one factor is in play, it’s fleeing the big city and New Mexico’s cheap real estate — even Santa Fe’s stratospheric home prices that are ho-hum for Californians.
“People are trying to get out of the big city,” said Jeffery West, owner of the Future Real Estate branch in Ruidoso, where Texans are the big driver for home sales.
A big influx of Texans also is buying up homes in Angel Fire, a historic hot spot for Texas oil money 20 years ago.
“Colorado is a newer feeder market for us,” said Tara Chisum, owner and qualifying broker at Chisum Realty Group in Angel Fire and Taos. “People are starting to leave southern Colorado. We started to see Colorado build before the pandemic. Yet the pandemic exacerbated and increased the number of people.”
Colorado is just up the road from Taos and Angel Fire, but Centennial State residents feel just at home in Silver City.
“People are leaving Tucson [Ariz.] and a high number of people are from New Mexico, but the most notable is Colorado,” said Blake Farley, owner and qualifying broker at Hacienda Realty in Silver City. “We’re hearing over and over people are leaving Colorado and, believe it or not, the Northwest, Seattle.”
Farley said residential real estate transactions in the Silver City area spiked from $23 million in 2019 to $39 million in 2020 and $46 million through November this year.
“Our high end is $450,000 and over,” Farley said. “People are packing their cars and just driving here. After that six-week shutdown [in spring 2020], things just started to double. We generally have a lot of people coming here from Arizona.”
Ski destinations are favored second homes for Texans in Santa Fe, Angel Fire, Taos and Ruidoso. The New Mexico Association of Realtors noted median home sale prices in Lincoln County rose from $229,500 January to September 2019 to $330,000 in the same period in 2021.
Californians, however, have discovered Santa Fe since essentially the opening month of the pandemic, as they were fleeing the coronavirus, breathtaking prices and wildfires. No real estate statistics exist showing how many Californians have flooded Santa Fe, but they are frequent buyers, whether retirees or work-at-home millennials, said Roger Carson, president of the Santa Fe Association of Realtors.
“The quality of life and cost is very attractive for Californians,” Carson said. “We’re going to see more millennials, for sure. Millennial purchasing patterns delayed because of student debt. Now they are getting older and can purchase. Now they can buy their first home in Santa Fe and still work in Chicago or San Francisco or New York.”
Santa Fe County’s median home price jumped from $448,000 in the third quarter of 2019 to $590,000 in the third quarter this year, with the number of homes sold rising from 520 to 538 in the same period. But in the peak of the pandemic in the third and fourth quarters of 2020, a 15-year high of 558 and 566 homes sold in Santa Fe County, Santa Fe Association of Realtors statistics show.
Colfax County, where about 82 percent of home sales are in Angel Fire, saw home sales increase from 187 in January to September 2019 to 299 in the same nine months this year with prices climbing from $177,000 to $299,000, according to New Mexico Association of Realtors statistics.
NMAR reported 604 homes sold in Otero County in the first nine months of 2019, with the number now 870, with median home prices moving from $150,000 to $200,000. About half of Otero County home sales are military-related with the presence of Holloman Air Force Base, said Justin Muñoz, owner and qualifying broker at Future Real Estate in Alamogordo.
“We definitely have a lot more cash [transactions],” Muñoz said. “They are coming from all over the place. New York, California, Washington, neighboring states. In Cloudcroft, we get a lot of Texans. A lot of retirees, military, military retirees.”