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.
For the first eleven months of the year, for the total market (all categories of property) – The number of closed transactions is up by 16 (3%) at 491 sales this year vs. 475 last year. Total dollar sales are up 22% at $152.3 million vs. $125.0 million, a gain of $27.3 million.
Sales of single-family homes—by far the biggest segment of the market—have been up in every month this year except January and May compared to the same month in 2019. Demand continues to far exceed supply. Prices are rising, and time to sell is falling. We will end the year with a gain over 2019 of about 20% in units sold. The gain would be even greater but for the effect that Covid -19 has had on processing real estate transactions. There are only two title insurance companies in Taos, and they are overwhelmed by the number of orders, from both purchase contracts and from refinancings. Additionally, Taos County offices have been open just two hours per day for health reasons; this has affected the title companies’ ability to do title searches. As a result, it has been taking eight weeks or longer to get title insurance commitments.
Condo demand has also increased, but the lack of inventory is even more acute than for homes, and this has been a constraint on sales. Year-to-date unit sales are 12% below last year. Prices are rising sharply in this market segment, too.
Land unit sales are lagging last year by 14%; however, recently there has been an increase in the number of pending land sales, so this segment of the market may be starting to get some momentum. With buyer demand for single-family homes expected to remain strong, and with no foreseeable increase in supply of homes available for purchase, we may see the land market start to gain strength in 2021.
Following is a detailed discussion of each market segment:
November 2020 unit sales were up over November 2019 by one: 29 vs. 28 closed transactions (+3.6%). Dollar sales for the month were up 44%, due to two sales over $1 million. This is the second consecutive month with two sales over $1 million, which is rare in Taos. The pandemic has added a new layer of buyers to a market that has been steadily gaining for the past five years, as people from cities seek a home in less populous areas to escape to during health or other emergencies. This incremental demand created a surge of buying as soon as the spring lockdowns were lifted, and people were able to travel. Unfortunately, the inventory of homes listed for sale has not kept up with demand. Homes are going under contract much faster than usual in Taos, and prices are rising at an accelerated rate. We are also seeing an increase in sales of higher-priced homes.
Year-to-date unit sales are 19.2% above last year’s pace: 292 homes this year vs. 245 last year. Dollar sales are up 29% ($112.3 million vs. $86.9 million). Currently, there are 60 sales pending, up from 43 last month, and well above historical average of 15-30. The high number of pending sales is in large part due to the delays in closing sales caused by the backlog at title companies, and also with appraisers.
Median and Average Prices – Through eleven months of 2020, the median price (midpoint) is $340,500 vs. $325,000 for the same period last year, an increase of $15,500 (4.8%). The average (mean) price year-to-date is $384,700 vs $354,600 last year, an increase of $30,100 (8.5%).
Here is a chart showing the trend in median and average prices over the past several years, and what they were in peak year 2007:
Price 2007 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 YTD
Median $325,000 283,500 300,000 311,000 322,500 340,500
Average $379,900 306,100 326,800 370,500 373,100 384,700
Price Level – Prices of single-family homes fell 30%–35% from the market peak in 2007 to a bottom in 2011. Prices were basically flat for a few years, then they started to increase slowly, mainly in the most preferred areas. By 2015 prices were starting to rise gradually in most cases as buyer interest began to gain momentum. Prices have risen steadily over the past four years, as demand has continued to grow, while supply has declined. Prices are now above peak levels of 2007, as measured by median and average. Recently, the rate of price rise is accelerating as buyer competition for scarce inventory heats up.
Price Discounting – For the year through November, actual sales price has averaged 4.9% below the last asking price when the home went under contract; however, the discount from original asking price is 7.4%. The trend of demand exceeding supply has caused the discount from original price to decrease from 2013 to 2019. This discount should continue to diminish (if sellers and brokers resist the temptation to list homes at unreasonably high prices in a hot market!). Here is a chart showing the discount from original asking price over the past eight years:
2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 YTD
18.4% 16.9% 13.9% 13.3% 9.4% 10.3% 7.8% 7.4%
Days On Market – The average days on the market so far in 2020 is 154 vs. 146 for the same time frame in 2019, an increase of 8 days (5.5%). Since 2016, there has been a huge decrease (about 33%) in the average time from when a house is listed to when it goes under contract. This chart illustrates DOM in peak year 2006, in the past seven years, and this year to date:
2006 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
247 244 235 235 226 192 147 151 154
Here is another chart, with data on current inventory and unit sales by price segment for the year to date:
|| Dec 2019
|| Sep 2008
|Up to $200,000||31||48||190||66||44%||58||21%||51||17%|
|$200,001 – $300,000||32||48||109||37||25%||64||24%||63||22%|
|$300,001 – $400,000||44||48||69||20||13%||74||27%||75||26%|
|$400,001 – $500,000||27||33||39||12||8%||27||10%||41||14 %|
|$500,001 – $650,000||29||30||35||9||6%||24||9%||35||12%|
|$650,001 – $800,000||18||26||27||4||3%||16||6%||11||4%|
|$800,001 – $1million
Inventory – At the time this report was prepared, inventory had decreased again: 227 homes were listed for sale, down 6% from 241 last month, and down 43 homes from 270 a year ago (-16%). The highest inventory this year was 273 (in July); last year’s high was 314 (in August). 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 this year it has decreased again.
Here is chart showing average inventory for the past seven years and the current number of homes listed for sale:
2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
334 333 324 316 285 264 274 227
Probably the main reason for the reduced inventory is that property owners who in earlier times would have sold their Taos homes when they no longer used them much are now holding them as rental property. The number of homes for rent on sites such as Airbnb.com and vrbo.com has increased exponentially over the past several years. Evidently, property owners are achieving excellent net income from vacation rentals. Positive cash flow, possible tax benefits, and price appreciation add up to a compelling reason to hold the asset as part of an investment portfolio.
Another factor affecting supply is that since the real estate crash of 2008, there has been very little “spec” building by contractors. However, even if there were the same number of spec houses being built today that occurred in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, it would not amount to more than maybe an additional 20 homes in inventory at any given time.
Taos inventory consists of a wide variety of size, price, style, location, and condition. It is often difficult to find more than 3-4 homes to show a buyer that might meet most of his/her criteria. With sales 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 probably continue to shrink relative to demand. The acute inventory shortage is definitely affecting total sales, as well as average prices, price discounting and days on market.
How Home Purchases Were Financed:
Conventional loans have become the primary means of financing purchases, as buyers take advantage of this year’s extremely attractive interest rates.
Interest Rates – Interest rates on residential loans remain extremely low. After fluctuating sharply in March-April due to market uncertainties caused by Covid-19, rates stabilized, and they have then decreased during the year. Current rates are down very slightly from a month ago. Rates are expected to remain very attractive at least through 2021. Here are current rates as posted by Bankrate.com on December 24:
Conventional 30-year fixed: 2.92 % (Nominal) 3.22 % (APR)
Conventional 15-year fixed: 2.38 % 2.70 %
Jumbo 30-year fixed: 2.94 % 3.06 %
5/1 Adjustable 3.06 % 3.88 %
Note: Interest rates are impacted by occupancy, credit score, and down payment.
Foreclosure Sales – Through November of this year, there have been eight foreclosure sales (1.0% of total sales). Prices have ranged from $20,000 to $329,000. The number of foreclosures has diminished steadily over the past several years, both in Taos and nationally. Currently, there is just one bank-owned house listed for sale, down from four last month.
This table shows the number of foreclosure sales, and their percentage of total sales of single-family homes, for the previous nine years:
|2020 YTD||8||( 1%)|
Note: These data do not include any of the condominiums developed by Taos Ski Valley Resort; those condos are not listed in the Taos MLS.
November unit sales were down by five compared to November last year (4 vs. 9), a drop of 56%. There have been only three months so far this year with gains over the same month last year. Year-to-date unit sales are 9 fewer than last year: 65 vs. 74 (-12.2%). Condo sales would be trending higher than last year if there were more condos available for purchase, especially in and near the Town of Taos.
Dollar sales in November were down 51%; year-to-date dollar sales are down 1.9%. The percentage decrease in dollar sales is much less than the decrease in unit sales due to rising prices, and the sales mix (more higher-priced units sold).
Like single-family homes, condos are experiencing heightened buyer interest, due to the Covid-19 buying wave. At the time of this report, there are 16 condo sales pending, up dramatically from the 3-5 typical up until recently. But 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).
Median price YTD is $296,000 this year vs. $240,000 last year, an increase of $56,000 (+23.3%). Median price for the full year 2019 was $230,000. Peak median price (in 2007) was $263,000.
Average (mean) price YTD is $301,400 this year vs. $269,800 last year, a gain of $31,600 (11.7%). Average price for the full year 2018 was $265,800; in 2007, average price was $279,100.
As with single-family homes, condo prices in general have been rising, due to the same inventory situation of more demand than supply. However, some of the the large gains in median and average prices may be partly attributable to a changing sales mix, with proportionally more higher-priced units (e.g., larger units, and units at Taos Ski Valley, where prices are higher per square foot). This year, 23 of the 65 units sold (35%) have been at TSV; last year, 16 of the 74 units sold (22%) were at TSV.
Price Discounting – So far this year, final sales price has averaged 2.4% less than last asking price when the condo went under contract; the discount from original price is 3.2%. For the full year 2019, final sales price averaged 5.5% less than last asking price; the average discount from original asking price was 6.5%.
Here are the discounts from original asking price for the past six years, and this year to date:
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 YTD
12.7% 8.6% 11.8% 6.7% 6.5% 5.5% 3.2%
Inventory – The number of condos listed for sale at the time of this report was 57, up two from last month, but down 16 from 73 at this time a year ago. The 57 units available for purchase is the highest monthly total this year. The highest inventory in 2019 was 65 available for sale (in July and August). 2018’s peak inventory was 74 units. Of the 57 units currently available for purchase, 27 (47%) are at Taos Ski Valley, while only 30 are in or near the Town of Taos; those 30 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. 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.
Here is a chart indicating inventory and sales by price segment:
||Sept.||# of||# of||# of|
|Up to $150,000||6||10||40||16||55%||11||14%||7||11%|
|$150,001 – $250,000||13||33||50||8||28%||37||47%||20||31%|
|$250,001 – $350,000||18||9||51||3||10 %||10||12%||15||23%|
|$350,001 – $500,000||17||19||56||1||3%||19||24%||20||31%|
Like single-family homeowners, many condo owners are holding their property as investments yielding attractive returns from rentals, thus reducing supply of condos available for purchase.
How Condo Purchases Were Financed:
|2011||2016||2019|| 2020 YTD
Conventional loans for condos are more difficult to obtain than they were before the financial crisis of 2008: the criteria for a Fannie Mae (FNMA) conforming loan are more stringently applied these days, and some condo projects do not qualify; therefore, even if the buyer is qualified, lenders who need the Fannie guarantee to be able to sell their loans in the secondary market won’t make a loan on these “non-warrantable” condos. The percentage of sales financed by conventional loans (40%) is much lower than for single-family homes (60%).
Foreclosure Sales – There have been no foreclosure sales so far this year. In 2019 there was only one foreclosure sale out of 79 condos sold. Currently, there are no foreclosed condos listed for sale.
Multi-family has always been a very small portion of the Taos market. There have been just three multi-family sales during the first eleven months of 2020, the same as is 2019. The three sales have totaled just $705,000. For the full year 2019 there were three sales, with total dollar volume of $810,000. In 2018, there were four sales, with a total price of $1,847,000. 2017 had four sales, totaling $1,790,000. Since 2004, the highest number of sales was 8 in 2005 with total dollar volume of $3,053,000.
There are currently 10 multi-family properties listed for sale. One of these has in the past been marketed as a single-family home; it has two five bedrooms, four baths and two kitchens, and it could be used by two different occupants. There are three pending sales, an increase over what has been typical. It is possible that the Covid-19-induced buying is affecting even this market segment, although as with everything else, the increase may be due to the backlog at the title companies.
The supply of long-term rentals in Taos is very low because many owners of single-family homes and condos have switched from long-term rentals to short-term (vacation) rentals. Long-term renters are having difficulty finding places to live. Rents are rising, which should make the investment returns on multi-family properties attractive. However, obtaining conventional financing of properties larger than a duplex is challenging due to the lack of comparable sales.
November closed sales numbered 7, down 2 from November 2019 (-22%). Dollar sales were down 57%. I keep hearing that land sales are really picking up, but so far it hasn’t shown in the numbers.
For the year to date, 124 pieces of land have sold, down 20 tracts (-13.9%) from the same time period last year. Dollar sales are up 45%; however, the large increase is due to one sale in April which was reported at $7 million (a 5,433-acre ranch in the El Rito area north of Taos)–an unusually high price for the Taos market. Excluding that one sale, YTD dollar volume is down $1,562,200 (-13%). Excluding the ranch sale, prices have ranged from $11,000 – $390,000 (a 0.9-acre lot at Taos Ski Valley).
Median price year-to-date of $70,300 is up $7,500 (11.9%) from $63,000 last year. The $7 million sale doesn’t affect median price (the midpoint of prices), but it does affect average (mean) price. Average price year-to-date with the ranch sale included is $142,100 vs. $84,600 last year; however, with the ranch sale excluded, average price is $86,300 this year, an increase of $1,700 (+2.0%) from last year. Here is a chart indicating price trends since 2016, and in peak year 2007:
Price 2007 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 YTD
Median 89,000 52,300 64,500 62,700 65,000 70,500
Average 128,000 73,100 89,800 92,300 85,400 86,300*
*excluding the $7 million sale
Land sales have been slowly recovering from the recession, but they haven’t come back nearly as much as residential sales have. From a low point of 41 closed transactions in 2011, 2019’s total of 152 sales was a gain of 270%, but that was still 56% below peak year sales of 339 tracts. One reason for sluggish land sales is that the cost to buy land and build a home is still significantly greater than the price of an existing home, even though prices of existing homes are rising. Building costs have risen sharply this year due to the Covid-19 impact on supply chains for materials (factory and lumber mill production slowdowns, imports), and extra demand for materials in hurricane-damaged zones. Notwithstanding much-higher building costs–-the cost to build a good-quality house is now $275-$300 per square foot–the critically low inventory of homes available for purchase may start to drive more land sales as buyers who cannot find a suitable existing home may decide to buy land and build. Currently, there are 45 pending sales, up significantly from what has been typical in Taos at any given time. Once again, some of this is due to the extended time it is taking to close purchases; but interest in vacant land does seem to be growing.
Price Discounting – Year-to-date, the discount from last asking price when the property went under contract is 8.6%; the discount from original asking price is 11.9%. The discounts have diminished over the past six years. For the full year 2019, the discount from last asking price was 9.5%; the discount from original asking price was 15.9%. Discounts for land are greater than for residential sales because land is still pretty much a buyer’s market, whereas residential is a seller’s market.
Here are the discounts from original asking price for the past six years and this year to date:
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 YTD
17.0% 18.4% 22.4% 20.0% 18.3% 15.9% 11.9%
Average Days on Market – Through the first eleven months this year, days on market has averaged 467, an increase of 125 days (37%) over the same period in 2019. The averages for the past seven years were:
2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 YTD
465 390 605 464 469 388 338 467
Here is a chart indicating inventory and sales by price segment:
| Same Month
|Up to $50,000||124||133||46||39%||63||41%||44||34%|
|$50,000 – $100,000||150||161||34||29%||45||30%||47||39%|
|$250,001 – $300,000||19||15||2||2%||3||2%||0||0%|
At current sales pace, the inventory of 492 tracts for sale equals about a 3.6-year supply.
How Land Purchases Were Financed:
|2011||2016||2019|| 2020 YTD
There were two commercial sales closed in November this year, the same as in November 2019. This November’s sales included a contractor’s shop with two residential rental units on Hwy 64 going out toward the airport; and a 4,500-square foot building near Holy Cross Hospital.
For the year so far, there have been seven commercial sales, down from nine in the same period in 2019. In addition to the two in November, there have been two were commercial condos; a 4,000-square foot space in the light manufacturing zone; a 3-unit retail complex on Bent Street in the central business district, and a 1,600-square foot space that had been an upholstery shop. Total dollar sales for the year to date are $2.1 million vs. $5.2 million last year, a decrease of $3.1 million (-60%).
For the full year 2019, there were 12 sales, a decrease of 2 transactions (-14.3%) compared to 2018. Total dollar sales for the year were $6,324,500 vs. $4,656,000 in 2018, an increase of $1,668,500 (+35.8%).
Currently, there are 31 commercial properties listed for sale. At this time, none are under contract. The Taos Tennis Ranch facility adjacent to the Quail Ridge Inn, with a listed price of $1.4 million is back on the market. The 29-space RV Park and 26-room motel property south of Town that was under contract in last month’s report has sold, and it will be counted in the December report.
The commercial market has been up and down over the past several years, with no clear trend. Commercial sales are still well below peak year 2005, when 19 properties sold, with a total dollar volume of $8,735,600. At the start of this year, our expectation was that the commercial market would continue to slowly improve; however, the Covid-19 crisis dealt a severe blow to many local businesses during spring and summer. Although tourism has picked up, there are still restrictions on restaurants, hotels and other businesses. Taos Ski Valley this winter will be limited to 50% capacity, and this will have a knock-on effect on businesses all over town. When the health crisis eventually subsides, the commercial market should start to revive, especially if residential and land sales continue to increase. With more people living in Taos full-time or for extended stays, the demand for commercial products and services should grow.