Valencia County’s recovery from the recession is in full swing in real estate. Property sales in the county have been increasing for the past two years, whether in the Los Lunas area and around Belen.
Local realtors say no sooner is a property listed that it’s sold. In fact, the Realtors Association of New Mexico is saying the New Mexico housing market is on track for a record year in property sales with houses listed on the market an average of 67 days.
The combination of cultures that settled in Valencia County has given rise to a truly unique blend of home styles — from flat-roofed adobe to Spanish haciendas and Victorian mansions as well as territorial style homes.
“That’s the one thing about Valencia County — we do have a variety of styles,” said Lorraine Sachs Garcia, owner of Sachs 5th Real Estate and Auction in Belen. “Outsiders are coming in looking at New Mexico. They’re traveling all over New Mexico and somehow they’re landing here in Belen, in Valencia County, and saying ‘This is it.’”
There have been sales within 30 days and some in as little as two hours after being listed. The only problem is, there’s not enough inventory, Sachs Garcia said.
“When there are not enough houses to sell or apartments and houses to rent, it is simple economics of supply and demand,” she said. “When there is not enough inventory, it certainly drives the prices up.”
Joe and Nancy Montoya, owners of Century 21 in Los Lunas, say the county needs more mid-sized, affordable homes.
“I’d say around $140,000 to $160,000,” Nancy said.
Once property owners, developers and investors know the market is ripe for them to make a good return on their investment, they usually start releasing their properties for sale or rent, Sachs Garcia said.
Between January and July, 574 properties sold in Valencia County at a median price of $155,800, according to the Realtors Association of New Mexico. In Torrance County, the median price was $102,000, and in Socorro it was $137,500.
To bring monthly home payments down when buying a house, Nancy said paying a larger payment to the bank for closing costs buys down the interest rate.
“Say you’re buying a $200,000 house and the interest rate is 5 percent. The lender will say ‘We can drop it down 4 and 3/4 if you give us $2,000 up front,’” she said. “You give the bank the money. It doesn’t go toward your down payment; it goes toward your closing costs.”
Although there are numerous subdivisions in Los Lunas, people still call inquiring about horse properties.
“Everybody sees all the growth — the talk is always about what new subdivisions but that’s never been the attraction to this area,” Joe said. “The calls that we get are still, ‘Do you have a little horse farm? Do you have a house on an acre?’ That’s still what people want.”
Whether it’s Belen, Jarales, Los Lunas or Bosque Farms, that’s still the magnet that draws people to Valencia County, and Joe said he doesn’t know if that will ever change.
Sonya Sanchez, realtor and associate broker with Sachs, said property sales in the county have been increasing in the Belen area.
“There’s a lot of farm sales,” Sanchez said. “There’s been a few little farms popping here and there, and we already know that the values have gone up.”
Commercial buildings aren’t moving as fast however, especially older buildings. Sachs Garcia said they’re more difficult to sell even in a good market because financing is difficult to get for them.
Sachs 5th Real Estate signs can be seen on commercial properties up and down Main Street and Reinken Avenue. Right now, Sachs has more commercial listings than residential.
Different realtors showed one old building 28 times, but it hung in limbo because buyers couldn’t get financing for it. It was built in the 1800s and needed work, so banks were leery to loan on it, she said.
“That’s our challenge with commercial is finding the financing,” Sachs Garcia said. “It took somebody coming from California and coming with cash that finally bought it.”
The irony is the sale of commercial properties is what drives residential sales. She said commercial property sales go hand-in-hand with residential sales because of the influx of people working for the companies.
The brokers commented on how the internet has changed how the real estate market operates.
Now listings are all online, Nancy said.
“Before, consumers would have to go to the county courthouse records to go and see what a house sold for,” she said. “But now everything is posted on the internet.”
Even open houses are advertised on the internet now, and advertising has changed too.
“Years ago, we used to advertise in the Valencia County News-Bulletin, the Albuquerque Journal and magazines,” Nancy said. “Now everything is — you buy websites, you get on the internet and that’s how you market a home.”
Expenditures have changed along with the switch to advertising online. Local real estate companies or agents pay monthly fees to large real estate websites, such as Zillow.com and RealEstate.com to list homes in different zip code areas.
“I get leads in the middle of the night because I’ve got websites all over the world,” Nancy said.
To reach Joe and Nancy Montoya call 865-3381 or 866-4721 and visit their website at nancymontoya.com.
Sachs 5th Real Estate and Auction can be reached at 864-8081 and their website is sachs5th.com.