SF Home Sales, Prices on Rise

  Report shows values within city limits are up 51% from last year.

Home sales are on the rise in Santa Fe and so are the prices, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Santa Fe Association of Realtors.

   The median home price inside the city limits made a huge jump in the first quarter   of 2010 — to $464,000.

   That’s a 51 percent increase from the same period a year ago and is nearly as high as during the national real estate boom that crashed a couple of years ago.  

   In the last quarter of 2005, the median in-city home sale price spiked to $470,000, good news for those in the housing market but a number that also helped push local governments to expand affordable housing programs.

   The price in Santa Fe has been on a big upswing in the past six months, the Realtors reports show. The median — not an average, but the middle point with half the home sales above and half below — dropped to a five-year low of   $287,000 in the third quarter of 2009 and was up to $329,500 the last three months of the year.

   For all of 2009, the city’s median selling price was $300,000, also a five-year low.

   “It appears we’re on a positive incline,” association president Lois Sury said.

   Sury said low interest rates have aided the trend, as have federal tax credits for first-time buyers and some repeat buyers entering the market again after being “longtime residents” of their current home.  

   “But with median (prices) going up, it shows all segments of the market are moving up,” Sury said.

   For 2010’s first three months, the median price for homes in county near Santa Fe was $318,224, down from $440,000 during same period in 2009 but up from $335,000 last quarter.

   The median for all city-county sales was $390,500, compared to $382,563 a year ago.

   The Realtors’ figures also  show that 16 percent more single-family homes were sold in the Santa Fe area during the first quarter of 2010 than during the same period last year.

   Sales are up from 95 homes to 110 in the city limits, and the number jumped from 82 to 95 in Santa Fe County areas outside of the city.

   The Realtors year-to-year numbers indicate that citycounty home sales peaked in 2005, when 1,996 houses were sold. That total had dropped to 1,029 in 2008 and went to 966 last year. The Realtors reports don’t include houses sold by individuals or directly by builders or developers.

   Tax credits help

   The federal tax credits that have helped spur sales expire soon —customers have until April 30 to execute a purchase agreement to get the $8,000 and $6,5000 credits—but Ian MacGillivray of Los Alamos National Bank said that doesn’t necessarily spell trouble for the housing market later this year.

   A rush of customers hoping to meet those deadlines “is still reducing the overall supply (of homes), which does nothing but help price points,” MacGillivray said.

   The number of active listings reported by the association hasn’t changed much. There were 1,350 single-family homes on the market in March. That’s slightly less than March of 2009 (1,393) but more than December (1,313).

   During the first quarter, homes spent an average of about six months on the market before selling, although there are large variances based on location. Properties in the southwest part of the city needed an average of 134 days on the market — a decrease of about a month from the first quarter of 2009. But those in the southeastern area of the city required an average of 254   — up 42 days from the same period last year.

   Sellers received an average of 89 percent of their asking price in January and March but only 81 percent in February, a traditionally slow month for home sales.

   “We’re seeing people list a lot more realistically today,” said appraiser Kay Sutt of Hippauf & Associates, Inc. who created a chart of sale price data using numbers from April 2006 to present.

   Sutt’s information indicates that the average selling price of a home in the city limits has declined each of the last two years. The average selling price of a home was $452,000 over the course of the last 12 months. That’s down from $504,000 (2008-09) and $526,000 (2007-08).

   The association’s report shows a large upswing in the sale of condos and townhomes. Only 27 were sold during the first quarter of 2009, but this year’s figure is 62.

   “Townhomes and condos were pretty flat for a while,” Sury said.

   Only 233 were sold in all of 2009, the fourth straight year the number had declined.

   Land sales are also up. A total of 24 parcels were sold in the city and county during the first quarter, up from 21 during the same period last year. The median price for the plots, however, dipped to $101,000 from $182,000.

   The city issued building permits for 48 housing units in the first quarter, 30 of them for single-family homes.

   Sutt said she had no exact figures but had anecdotal evidence showing an uptick in new construction.

   “In talking to builders and architects, people are starting to move again. Costs have come down a bit and land values have come down a bit and we’re starting to see people out looking against to build their dream house,” she said.

  By Jessica Dyer, Journal Staff Writer