Business feature: Realtors say home sales turnaround may be on horizon

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

For reasons that extend to Cannon Air Force Base and beyond, a turnaround seems on the horizon for local home sales.

Over the last two months, Clovis Realtor Kathy Corn said, deals on 96 properties in Curry and Roosevelt counties have been finalized, with an average price of $138,143.

“(Selling) 50 a month is really good for this time of year,” Corn said. “Typically in the (same time period) last year, 25 in a month would be acceptable.”

The numbers don’t include all of Portales, Corn said, because some sellers aren’t in the Realtor network on which the numbers are compiled.

With Cannon Air Force Base bringing in new personnel as its Special Operations mission expands, there’s a steady stream of phone calls and e-mails requesting a home months before a transition to eastern New Mexico.

“It’s kind of rare at this time for somebody to say, ‘We’re here, we want to buy a house, we’re military,’” said Corn, who noted that 90 percent of buyers begin searching for a home on the Internet.

Beverly Bennett of United Country Vista Nueva in Portales said Cannon plays a big role in increased sales, but noted that new tax incentives for first-time buyers help. Also, as a rural real estate seller, she said January is usually a good month for sales because farmers and ranchers start budgeting for the upcoming year and are looking for land to plant more crops.

“It’s been really busy,” Bennett said. “It’s a complete turnaround from what it was a year ago.”

The average home price skews a little higher, Corn said, because that total includes 17 new properties carrying an average price of $206,949. The 79 used homes sold for an average of $123,336.

“Our older homes, which are priced lower, are selling more,” Corn said. “(Selling) 17 new compared to 96 overall sales, that tells you something.”

That’s just the market, Bennett said.

“It’s still hard to sell anything in Portales over $200,000,” said Bennett, who has been in real estate for about 16 years. “The better homes that are selling are somewhere between $125,000 and $200,000.”

The homes that go above the $200,000 line, Bennett said, tend to be from a combination of homes with exclusive features and buyers with plenty of capital.

But even with the $200,000-plus homes, Corn said, “they’re selling as fast as the builders are building them.”