AThe exodus of people from American cities to rural towns and villages in places such as northern New Mexico has continued to grow over the past year as society has limped during a pandemic.
The coronavirus has led to an increase in real estate sales in rural areas.
“When I ask why they choose this area, they all say pretty much the same thing – they want to get out of the big city,” said Stacie Ewing, owner and qualified broker of American West Ranches based at Eagle Nest. “They say they are worried about the direction it will take in the future.”
Locals are also looking to buy when interest rates are low. But a shortage of inventory, rising home prices, and competition from people who can afford to pay cash make their dreams of home ownership difficult.
“There is no accommodation available. We’re in a tiny place with no new construction, ”said Lynn Cravens, a longtime real estate agent specializing in Rio Arriba County properties, including Española.
“We have locals who want to buy but can’t find anything. With the rising prices, they are out of the market. “
Still, the sustained pace of sales in regions from Spain to Eagle Nest since the pandemic began in early 2020 has been good for home sellers and real estate agents.
Cravens said she was surprised when she looked at recent home sales figures in the area. As of early August, 143 residential properties have been sold in Rio Arriba County this year, one less than total sales in 2019. The overall average price of homes sold fell from $ 209,299 in 2019 at $ 316,637 this year.
Land sales have also increased, from 28 in 2019 to 69 last year and 57 in mid-August of this year, Cravens said. Statistics compiled by the New Mexico County Association also show a steadily increasing trend in homes sold and the median price of homes sold in several rural New Mexico counties.
Going further, mid-range values tracked via sales from June 2020 through July 2021 show an increase in many rural towns in northern New Mexico, according to Zillow. Mid-priced home values rose 25% in Questa, 13% in Española and nearly 11% in Las Vegas, New Mexico.
Ewing said she sees a good mix among buyers in the northeast quadrant of the state she manages, from Angel Fire to Raton. Some are young couples buying their first home. Others are baby boomers buying second homes in the cool Sangre de Cristo mountains where they hope to retire. A few are part of the tech crowd who seek security and can work remotely.
Ewing said she was happy to see that much of the farm and ranch properties she was selling go to people who wish to continue raising animals or producing crops. “I would prefer that they remain working land and not be subdivided [for housing]. Once our ranch and farmland are gone, there will be no way to get them back, ”she said.
In the villages of Cimarron and Springer, Ewing saw his sales increase more than usual. Much of this is driven by people who grew up in the area, who moved for careers and are returning to raise families in their hometown, she said.
Likewise, Cravens said there was a significant influx of young tech professionals to the Española Valley, many outside of Texas, when COVID-19 took hold in 2020.
“Our market has grown a lot,” she said. “The problem is, we don’t have good internet service at all. It’s difficult for these young professionals because they all work remotely.
How long the upward trend in real estate values and sales will continue is a puzzle.