• Gary Sandler
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    Published 24 February 2019

    The Las Cruces Association of Realtors reported on Feb. 17 that local Realtors sold 130 new and existing homes, townhomes and condominiums in January. That number was just two sales shy of the 132 homes that were sold in January 2018, which was the third-best sales production year in our area’s history.

    The $203,799 combined average sales price for all property types posted in January was 6.8 percent higher than the average price reported in January 2018. The median price, where half sold for more and half sold for less, rose to $182,000 a year-over-year bump of 3.3 percent.

    Newly constructed free-standing, single-family homes accounted for 15 of the 130 sales and carried an average sales price of $223,778. The typical new home contained 1,745 square feet of heated and cooled living space and sold for an average price per square foot of $133.12.

    Previously owned free-standing, single-family homes accounted for 106 of the 130 sales, closing at an average price of $207,159, or $109.80 per square foot. The used-home sellers waited an average of 72 days for their sales to come to fruition and received an impressive 98 percent of their asking prices.

    Seven of the buyers who purchased in January opted to acquire townhomes. Two of the buyers paid an average of $168,450, or $141.39 per square foot, for their brand new 1,192-square-foot residences, while the remaining five buyers paid an average of $111,800, or $108.52 for their 1,226-square-foot used townhomes.

    Two of the 16 condo sellers whose used units were listed for sale in January were lucky enough to find buyers who shelled out an average of $66,250, or $98.19 per square foot for their 788-square-foot units. Sellers incentivized their offerings by discounting their prices by 5 percent.

    While sales are beginning to wane in some parts of the country, mostly due to prices outpacing the income needed to qualify for a mortgage at the now sky-high price points, one local indicator points to robust sales ahead — at least in the short term. That indicator is the pending sales index. A sale is considered pending after the contract has been signed and before the transaction is moved into the sold category. The 278 sales reported as pending on Feb. 17 is far above the number of sales pending at this point one year ago and is the best indicator of future closed sales over the next couple of months.

    Mortgage interest rates are another indicator of what may lie ahead. Freddie Mac reported in their weekly mortgage rate survey published on Feb. 14 that the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell to a 12-month low of 4.37 percent. While national news outlets typically sensationalize the most miniscule rise in rates, they seldom exhibit the same enthusiasm when rates decline. Freddie’s rate was, in fact, just 0.87 percent above our nation’s record low rate of 3.5 percent set in March of 2013. The Federal Reserve’s recent announcement that they do not currently see a need to increase rates this year is another sign that mortgage interest rates will remain low.

    The only downside indicator on the local horizon is the lack of inventory of homes for sale, which could put a damper on sales. As of this writing, just 597 new and existing homes, townhomes and condominiums are for sale in our area.

    Of that number, 570 are single-family homes, 11 are townhomes, and 16 are condominiums. A total of 1,745 homes were for sale when our market reached is precipitous peak in 2006.

    Since December, January and February are our area’s slowest months, both buyer and listing inventories will begin to increase as we enter March. Will the increased numbers of buyers be offset by a like number of new listings, resulting in a stable market? Or might the addition of too many sellers or too many buyers tip the scales in favor of one group over the other?. Only time will tell.

    See you at closing.

    Gary Sandler is a full-time Realtor and president of Gary Sandler Inc., Realtors in Las Cruces. He loves to answer questions and can be reached at 575-642-2292 or Gary@GarySandler.com.

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      Gary Sandler