The concept of home during the past year and a half has been gutted, if you will, because of the pandemic. Our dwellings have been reworked into refuge, boardroom and classroom.
Those seeking a more quaint setting are flocking to lesser-populated areas such as New Mexico, driving up housing prices while the days a property is on the market drop, creating a seller’s market. In the land of mañana, one must act quickly these days, in some cases not even sleeping on it, when making an offer on a home.
With the limited real estate inventory, when it comes to choices that fit your budget and need, “You can often count them on one hand,” says Rey Post, an associate broker with Sotheby’s International Realty and host of the radio program All Things Real Estate, airing from noon to 2 p.m. Sundays on KTRC 1260 AM.
Today’s buyers are tech savvy and have often researched and virtually toured a property online. “The use of technology over the past 18 months has been extraordinary. Buyers have bought sight unseen,” Post says. “The vast majority of homes are selling at or above list price.”
For those of us not in the market, many have been doing renovations, cosmetic upgrades and other improvements to accommodate our new or temporary lifestyle changes in work and play at home.
One of my favorite places for inspiration is Santa Fe’s Haciendas — A Parade of Homes, held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. The flagship event of the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association is a self-guided tour of new and newly remodeled homes celebrating the best in design, construction and landscaping, including sustainable “green” technologies and allowing visitors to explore the unique use of materials, techniques and philosophies.
“There is nothing more fundamental than the energy and love we pour into our homes,” Home Builders Association Executive Officer Miles Conway says.
This is especially so as we find ourselves working and learning from home. “You’re going to get some great ideas on how to improve your space,” Conway says.
“It’s fun,” Post says. “You’ll have the opportunity to have face-to-face conversations in the kitchen with the builder who built it. The educational process that comes with attending the Parade of Homes is the cherry on top.”
Other cities “rarely equal the craft you see in Santa Fe,” Conway says.
When it comes to the etiquette of attending house tours such as the Parade of Homes, open houses or a private showing, Theresa Shrader, associate broker at Realty One of Santa Fe, shared her “house rules” for being a good and responsible guest.
Safety first: COVID-19 safety and the personal safety of the agent are paramount. State mandates and brokerage policy will inform protocols such as mask wearing, if agents drive separately and how many people may view a home at one time. It’s important for clients to be patient and adaptable when faced with these changing regulations. As for personal safety, many agents are trained in self-defense because they are putting themselves in a vulnerable situation where they are alone with people they have had limited time to vet. A brokerage may require an agent to meet potential clients at the office first, to be accompanied by a fellow agent or for them to phone in from the road.
Attire: Masks and appropriate shoes are important to consider when touring properties. You’ll need to wear a mask indoors and if you’re sharing a vehicle with your agent. You may be asked to slip off your shoes or wear booties when walking through a home, but you’ll also want good footwear for traversing steep or muddy terrain and walking property lines. Consider bringing an extra pair of clean shoes if touring multiple properties or land.
Schedule: Stick to it! Touring homes requires the coordination of you, your agent, the listing agent and the homeowner, especially if owner-occupied. COVID-19 protocols and personal preferences may require separate vehicles and staggered viewings to avoid overlap, increasing the risk of delay. If you’re seeing several homes in a row, that increases the number of people waiting for you. When you need more time at one home, the agent will try to facilitate that or schedule an additional showing.
Parking: At busy open houses where multiple people are attending, follow posted signs or park on the same side of the street, keeping it easily passable.
Behind closed doors: Opening cupboards, drawers and closets is expected when touring a home to assess the condition and storage space. You may also open and close medicine cabinets, windows and locked doors, but leave any contents untouched and the entire home as you found it — especially if there are pets present. Do respect homeowners’ requests about not using the washroom, often indicated by a ribbon on the toilet or other signs.
Bringing the kids: Keep young children with you, and hand in hand, if a home is full of trinkets or enticing amusements. Shrader advises, “Children should be cautioned to be good guests, but I love it when kids walk into a room and say, ‘This is my room!’ ”
Do not disturb: While tempting, never knock on the door of a home for sale. Contact the agent listed on the sign or online listing.
Practice patience: While the real estate market is moving at the speed of light, everything else is taking more time to get done due to the volume and virus. “We are all, as professionals, doing the best we can,” Post says. Be kind and patient from waiting outside to see a property to the closing process.
Santa Fe design offers unique inspiration indoors and out. But no matter where you live, from mansions to modular to manufactured, home is the place we make our own.