A view west from the Lama area
Note: The data in The Lora Company report do not include Angel Fire, Eagle Nest, Red River and other areas which are in the Taos County Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service (MLS), but which we don’t consider part of the main Taos market.
The market is humming! The nationwide buying surge in rural areas that began last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic has continued into 2021; it shows no sign up easing even though the pandemic appears to be getting under control. The Taos market experienced something of a buying stampede last year. Robust demand for property in Taos is expected to continue into the foreseeable future. Sales are running well ahead of last year’s pace, despite very low inventory of homes and condos listed for sale.
Last year, an incremental layer of buyers was added to a market that has been steadily gaining since 2015. After Covid-related spring lockdowns were lifted, the market got hot, and it remains so! Buying activity has been brisk, even during winter and early spring which are typically slower. Homes are going under contract fast–sometimes in a day or two. We are also seeing more cases of multiple offers, “bidding wars”, and homes selling above asking price. This kind of market behavior was heretofore very uncommon in Taos. The overall price level is rising at an accelerated rate. We are also seeing an increase in sales of higher-priced homes, as well as of homes in less popular areas.
The pandemic has changed the way people work and where they want to live. It looks as if “working from home” is here to stay. The desire of many people to leave urban areas and to live in a more rural environment seems likely to remain a strong factor in national real estate trends. Taos will attract some of these people.
Through the first quarter, unit sales are 84 this year vs. 60 last year (+40%). Dollar sales are up $15.9 million (74%), from $21.5 million to $37.5 million.
Currently, there are 48 sales pending, down from 59 last month, but still well above the historical average of 15-30 homes under contract at any given time. The high number of pending sales is partially due to delays in closing sales contracts caused by a huge backlog at Taos’s only two title companies; they simply cannot process orders in a timely manner.
Median and Average Prices – For the first three months of 2021, the median price (midpoint in the range of prices from low to high) is $410,000 vs. $325,000 in 2020, an increase of $85,000 (+26%). The average (mean) is $446,100 vs $358,700 last year, an increase of $87,400 (+24%). Some of the increases are due to the sales mix, with relatively more higher-priced homes selling; however, price per square foot of just about every type of home is up dramatically!
Here is a chart showing the trend in median and average prices over the past several years
Price 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 ytd
Median $283,500 300,000 311,000 322,500 344,000 410,000
Average $306,100 326,800 370,500 373,100 390,500 446,100
Price Discounting – Through the first three months, actual sales price has averaged 3.0% below the last asking price when the home went under contract; the discount from original asking price is 4.5%. The trend of demand exceeding supply has caused the discount from original price to decrease steadily starting in 2013 Here is a chart showing the discount from original asking price over the past eight years:
2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 ytd
18.4% 16.9% 13.9% 13.3% 9.4% 10.3% 7.8% 7.2% 4.5%
Days On Market – The average days on the market so far this year is 121 vs. 151 in 2020, a decrease of 30 days (-20%). However, we have seen desirable homes in preferred locations going under contract fast–sometimes in a couple of days. Many of our buyers are from out of town, and they often are frustrated that a home they are interested in goes under contract before they can get here to see it. Sometimes a video showing must suffice for a buyer to make a timely offer. Days on market averaged 250 during 2003 – 2016; since 2016, there has been a steady decrease.
This chart illustrates DOM in 2006, in the past eight years, and this year so far:
2006 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 ytd
247 244 235 235 226 192 147 151 156 121
Here is a chart with data on current inventory and unit sales by price segment for the year:
|| Apr 2020
|| Sep 2008
|Up to $200,000||25||45||190||66||44%||58||21%||61||18%||11||13%|
|200,001 – $300,000||24||38||109||37||25%||64||24%||70||21%||15||18%|
|$300,001 – $400,000||36||45||69||20||13%||74||27%||83||25%||14||17%|
|$400,001 – $500,000||28||24||39||12||8%||27||10%||45||13 %||17||20%|
|$500,001 – $650,000||22||30||35||9||6%||24||9%||42||13%||15||18%|
|$650,001 – $800,000||16||21||27||4||3%||16||6%||15||4%||6||7%|
|$800,001 – $1million
Inventory – At the time this report was prepared, inventory had increased from the prior month for the first time since June 2020. There are now 196 homes listed for sale, up from 181 last month, but down from 243 a year ago (-19%). The highest inventory is 2020 was 273 (in July). In September of 2008, there were 518 homes listed for sale. The average inventory decreased every year from 2013 to 2018; it stabilized in 2019, but decreased again in 2020. This year, inventory will probably average about the same as last year. Taos inventory consists of a wide variety of size, price, style, location, and condition. It is difficult to find more than a few homes to show a buyer that might meet most of his/her criteria.
Here is chart showing average inventory for the past eight years:
2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
334 333 324 316 285 264 274 257
With demand increasing–even among homes with less popular styles and locations–and with no significant increase in the building of new homes or the listing of existing homes, the inventory will remain inadequate relative to demand. Even though prices seem high at this point in time, they will probably continue to rise, albeit maybe not as much as they did last year. And Taos prices still compare favorably to other destinations in the inter-mountain west!
How Home Purchases Were Financed:
|2011||2016||2020|| 2021 YTD
Interest Rates – Over the past few months, rates on home loans have increased some, in line with rate increases in the market for U.S. Treasury bonds, but they remain extremely low by long-term historical standards. The 30-year fixed-rate loan is now averaging 3.11%, down from 3.34% a month ago, but up from under 3% during the latter half of last year. Despite some recent volatility in the bond market–due to concerns about rising inflation and Federal Reserve policy–rates are not expected to increase much this year. Here are current rates as posted by Bankrate.com on April 21, 2021:
Conventional 30-year fixed: 3.11 % (Nominal) 3.32 % (APR)
Conventional 15-year fixed: 2.43 % 2.68 %
Jumbo 30-year fixed: 3.12 % 3.21 %
5/1 Adjustable 3.20 % 4.04 %
Note: Interest rates are impacted by occupancy, credit score, and down payment.
Foreclosure Sales – For the year through March, there have been two foreclosure sales. For the full year of 2020, there were nine foreclosure sales (2.7% of total sales). The number of foreclosures has diminished steadily over the past several years. Currently, there are just two bank-owned houses listed for sale.
This table shows the number of foreclosure sales, and their percentage of total sales of single-family homes, for the last ten years:
|2021 ytd||2||( 2%)|
Note: These data do not include any of the condominiums developed and offered for sale by Taos Ski Valley Resort; those condos are not listed in the Taos MLS.
Year-to-date unit sales are 27 vs. 10 for the same time period in 2020, a gain of 17 units (170%). Dollar sales are up 135%. This is a strong start to the year, but the condo inventory shortage is even worse than for single-family homes, so this will again be a constraint on sales. As with single-family homes, there are no signs that inventory will increase significantly this year.
At the time of this report, there are 12 condo sales pending, the same as last month, and significantly more than the 3-7 that was typical up until last year. As with homes, some of this increase is due to the increased time it is taking to get sales contracts closed (backlog of title work, appraisals).
To give a sense of market dynamics, one of my buyers made an offer on a condo within a few hours of the listing being active in the MLS. The offer had an escalation clause allowing the buyers’ price to increase up to $13,000 above list price of $299,000 if there were competing offers. There were five offers submitted that morning, four of which had escalation clauses.
Median price through three months is $310,000 vs. $316,000 last year. a decrease of $6,000 (-2%). Average price was also down, at $293,500 vs. $337,300, a drop of $43,800 (-13%). Please note that 27 sales is probably too small a number to be representative of how the year will turn out; we should see actual evidence of rising prices as the year progresses. But note also that averages are affected by the sales mix of units: if relatively more smaller, less-expensive condos sell this year compared to last, the average prices will be less.
Price Discounting – Year-to-date final sales price has averaged 3.0% less than last asking price when the condo went under contract; the discount from original price is 4.5%. Again, three months is too small a data sample to project a trend.
Here are the discounts from original asking price for the past seven years, and this year to date:
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 ytd
12.7% 8.6% 11.8% 6.7% 6.5% 5.5% 3.2% 4.5%
Inventory – The number of condos listed for sale at the time of this report was 40, up 6 from 34 last month, but down 4 from 44 at this time a year ago. Of the 40 units currently available for purchase, 18 (45%) are at Taos Ski Valley, while only 22 are in or near the Town of Taos. Those 22 include a wide variety of size, age, style and price, so (just as with with houses) it is difficult to find more than a very few listings that work for any given buyer.
For example, if a buyer today wants a condo anywhere but at Taos Ski Valley, priced up to $250,000, there are only two listings: a studio and a 1-bedroom. Both are under contract, so actually there aren’t any available at this time. If the price limit is raised to $300,000, there are six additional units available (one 1-bedroom, five 2-bedrooms).
In 2006, there were often over 200 condos on the market at any given time, with the majority in or near central Taos; there were 149 condo sales that year.
Note how the average inventory has decreased steadily over the past eight years:
2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
107 81 78 65 58 59 56 49
Here is a chart indicating current inventory and sales by price segment:
||Sept.||# of||# of||# of|
|Up to $150,000||0||1||40||16||55%||10||13%||4||15%|
|$150,001 – $250,000||7||14||50||8||28%||21||28%||5||18%|
|$250,001 – $350,000||14||9||51||3||10 %||18||24%||11||41%|
|$350,001 – $500,000||11||18||56||1||3%||22||30%||7||26%|
How Condo Purchases Were Financed:
There have been no multi-family sales through the first three months of 2021, the same as last year. Multi-family is and has always been a very small segment of the Taos real estate market. However, we may see some increase in sales as home and condo buyers facing scarce inventory broaden their searches to include multi-family. For example, some duplexes might be convertible to single-family residences with some building modifications.
Rents have been trending higher for years, so multi-family income properties should yield fairly attractive returns on investment.
Currently, there are 9 multi-family listings, with five of these under contract. So this segment of the market may start to gain some traction.
Land sales have really started to pop! Some home buyers who have been frustrated in their search for an existing home to buy are deciding to buy land and build. Currently there are 68 pending sales, up from 59 last month, and way more than typical. Of course, as with both single-family and homes and condos, a good portion of the increase in pending sales is due to the protracted time it is taking to close sales (title company backlog). However, we expect that 2021 sales will far outstrip 2020 sales by the end of the year.
Year-to-date unit sales are 52 vs. 26 in the same period in 2020, a gain of 26 (+100%). Dollar sales are $3.93 million vs. $2.56 million last year, an increase of 54%.
Median price year-to-date is $61,300 vs. $82,500, a decrease of $21,200 (-26%). Average price is down $22,800 (23%), from $98,400 to $75,600. As with condos, the sales mix this year includes more lower-priced properties, so the decreases in median and average price do indicate that prices are falling. As interest in land continues to grow, prices will start to rise, but that probably won’t happen until some of the inventory of is absorbed. Whereas in the market for homes and condos there is much more demand than supply, in the land market the reverse is true.
Current inventory of 513 tracts listed for sale is up from 475 one month ago, and up from 492 a year ago.
Here is a chart indicating inventory and sales by price segment:
| Same Month
|Up to $50,000||123||130||46||39%||52||36%||18||35%|
|$50,000 – $100,000||162||164||34||29%||53||36%||24||46%|
|$250,001 – $300,000||22||18||2||2%||0||0%||0||0%|
Days On Market – For the first quarter of the year, the average time to sell a piece of land has been 380 days. This is down 6% from the same time period in 2020, but not far off the average of 410 over the past 18 years.
How Land Purchases Were Financed:
The availability of financing for land purchases is more limited than it was during the pre-recession years of 2000 – 2007.
There have been no commercial sales in the first three months of 2021, compared to two in the same period in 2020. For the entire year 2020, there were only 8 sales, with a total dollar volume of $2.9 million. With the growing number of people moving to Taos (for either full-time or extended stay living), the demand for commercial services should increase; this should in turn boost the commercial real estate sector.
Here is a quick look at the number of sales over the past ten years:
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
2 7 9 3 17 7 5 14 12 8
Currently, there are 31 commercial properties listed for sale, the same as last month. At this time, three are under contract.