Taos’ real estate explosion, and what it means for your home search
A century ago Taos was “discovered” by a group of artists, many of whom chose to remain here and established what would become one of the most consequential art colonies in the country. In any context it’s a remarkable piece of history.
Why did this isolated little mountain town foster such excitement, creativity and distinction?
Over the years that spirit has continued to attract the inventive, the arty, the pioneering, the quirky. In 2020, however, Taos appears to be the destination for a whole different category of newcomers: the Zoom workforce.
Realtors across the region confirm that, as other local businesses struggled to stay afloat, the real estate market in Taos was buzzier than a beehive.
Brian Stenum, owner of Casa Encantada Realty and 2021 president of the Taos County Association of Realtors, noted that “the local real estate market saw a significant increase in activity last year with sales higher than in any other year since at least 2014,” with a correlating escalation in tight inventory, home values and pricing.
WFH, homeschooling and location, location location
“The fact that many people have been forced to work from home due to the pandemic, and because the WFH phenomenon is likely to survive beyond the end of the pandemic, there are likely more buyers who have made the leap to a generally permanent WFH occupational format,” Stenum continued.
“People move to the Taos area because at some time, or over time, they have visited the area, really liked it and ultimately found the opportunity or the right timing to finally make the move,” Stenum mused.
Chase Jackson, wife Brandi, and sons KJ and Maceo, made their move to Taos from the Oakland, California, area.
“It was a decision we made for the benefit of our family,” Chase Jackson said, noting the congestion and urban issues surrounding the East Bay area. “We needed a break from too much connection, and too many people not making the right decisions.”
“The fact that many people have been forced to work from home due to the pandemic, and because the WFH phenomenon is likely to survive beyond the end of the pandemic.”
– Brian Stenum
Jackson is the C.E.O. of an athletic training company and appreciates that Taos affords the ability to conduct high-altitude training. He and Brandi are currently home-schooling their children in what they affectionately refer to as the “Jackson Leadership Academy.”
“We try to keep the screen time to a minimum so the boys can also absorb all the great things that Taos has to offer,” he remarked. “It’s been the best move we could have made.”
Though relocated to Taos pre-pandemic, they embody many of those who choose to make the Southwest their new home.
“We were always big travelers,” said Kurt Weidler, formerly of Minnesota. After retiring, the couple spent two summers working at Yellowstone National Park and finally took to the road again. “We had never been to New Mexico and with a stop in Taos everything fell into place for us.”
“Everywhere we went here, people told us this is the best place to be,” Peggy added. The two – lovers of the outdoors, hiking and national forests – were happily forced to agree. “We appreciate the historical depth and legacy of the area. It’s as good as life can be.”
Rachel Singer, Qualifying Broker for New Mexico Real Estate Group, advised, “For the Taos homebuyer, our recent real estate explosion means people who are looking to buy a home here need to be prepared to act quickly when they see a home that interests them. Inventory is low, so there’s strong competition among buyers as soon as a home comes on the market. Having a Pre-Qualification letter ready to submit with an offer is helpful, along with having the ability to view a home on short notice.”
Local Real Estate Market Report Update from Peter Lora. For more go to realestatetaos.com
Through the first two months, unit sales of single-family homes–by far the biggest segment of the market–are up 50% over the same period in 2020 (54 vs. 36 closed sales). Dollar sales are up 94%. Median and average price are up 24% and 29%, respectively. The supply of homes listed for sale continues to diminish but buyer demand, which spiked last year due to the pandemic, remains strong. Prices are rising.
Sales in this segment of the market are also up, despite an even tighter inventory than in Single-Family Homes: For the first two months, unit sales are 14 this year vs. 5 last year. Condo prices are rising, too, although this is not reflected in the year-to-date median and average prices, due to the small number of transactions. Inventory will remain inadequate again this year, so prices should continue to rise.