The first, second, and who knows about the third and fourth, quarters of 2020 will be marked as a highly difficult and most challenging time for the USA and for our beloved Santa Fe. I wrote most of what follows before COVID-19 and decided to publish it now to remind us of the Santa Fe norm, what was happening in our unique market and what I believe will rise again as bigger and better than ever. Potential home buyers, being deprived of traveling to our city to find their dream, will come in hoards when this countrywide lockdown is lifted.

The lure of Santa Fe’s unequaled offerings has attracted, and will continue to attract, buyers from every direction of the country. It is partially the abundance of positive media coverage that we have received over the past few years. It is the weather, the natural beauty, the unique opportunities for outdoor activities, the fine dining, food trucks, live music, festivals, street fairs, shopping, churches, history, people, art, architecture, sunsets, and simply the undeniable fact of what we all recognize as a privileged and joyous quality of life.

Historically, visitors become residents by the hundreds... more every month. Hotel occupancy booms, home rentals stay in a positive range, restaurant reservations are coveted, shops are full, and art flows. But it is our primary and second-home markets that, while currently challenged, will plow through and survive this downturn. The lure is alive and well and actually, in my view, is looking good, even now.

While values are rising, our home prices are exceptionally affordable by comparison to other cities. And with interest rates still low, it is easy to understand why those falling in love with Santa Fe normally come by the plane load (now, the car load) to own their piece of enchantment.

A client from Texas, purchasing a second home here, shared his list of pros and cons with me. On the former, he listed, “No cockroaches, no fleas, no mosquitos, no humidity, no hurricanes” and on the con side, his wife listed “No Neiman Marcus.” Really?

Although their lists are overstated, he was too overjoyed to listen to my cautionary advice that he might encounter a flea or mosquito here and there. My point being that visitors are turning into new homeowners for a variety of reasons that still exist. According to county tax records at the end of 2019, one in six Santa Fe homeowners are from out of state. It is impossible to know if their homes are primary or secondary, but it is undeniable that people from all over want to come our way.

These huddled masses of out-of-state homeowners aren’t coming here seeking refuge and liberty. They’re likely looking for retirement or seasonal homes and the tranquility found in living at least part of the year in Santa Fe.

The housing market in Santa Fe has been on fire, rising over 18 percent in the past year, and is expected to increase another 9 percent in 2020. While this may make bargain-hunting a bit difficult, it also shows just how attractive the capital is as a place to live and raise a family.

The lure of Santa Fe is constant; it will never go away. All we have to do to believe this is take a walk around the Plaza, observing people walking their dogs and eating ice cream; watch the new businesses open; hike our many trails; or take a look at all the new construction, both residential and commercial, going on all over the city.

You will agree with me that this year is still a prime and exciting time to live here. So go ahead: buy that home! Get pre-qualified for your mortgage, select a Realtor, and begin your search for a piece of the “City Different.”

Jim Gay was a real-estate broker for 20 years and has been a financial consultant to Fortune 500 companies. He is currently a broker/owner of The Mortgage Place (986-9080) and can be reached at jim@tm-place.com.

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