October 2009 Newsletter
Fall is here. The colors are getting bright, and mornings are cold. So, when will we get our first major snow? When will the ski area open? Will we have a hard winter or a mild one? In October in Pagosa, these are the questions on everyone’s minds.
After two tough winters, I’m hoping for an easy one for a change. I do hope the ski area opens early. Halloween would be ideal. In a perfect world, we would have good early snow but not too much. When this happens, folks from Durango and Northern New Mexico have to come here to ski. Contrary to popular belief, we actually do better economically when we don’t get too much snow. Wolf Creek Pass stays open, and we are the best, and sometimes the only game around.
I have been checking around town to see how our local merchants have been doing in this tough economy. The answer I am hearing, even though not as good as a couple of years ago, is that we are doing better than most people expected. Lodger’s Tax is up 9% compared to 2008. Sales tax is down only 2.2%. The county seems to be getting its act together after financial problems a couple of years ago. Foot traffic at the local Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Center is up 15% compared to last year. The Town Tourism Committee recently ran out of their seasonal visitor’s guide, and they had to print an additional 20,000 copies!
As far as real estate goes, we are seeing improvement lately, especially in home and condo sales. At the end of July, real estate sales were down 37% compared to the same period in 2008. At the end of August, we were down 35%, and at the end of September, we were down 32%. So, we are still behind the 2008 sales pace, but over the last couple months, we have been gaining ground.
It’s still a buyer’s market, but we are starting to see a reduction in inventory. Quite often, Fall is the best time to buy. Sellers are worried about holding the property through another winter, and they are more motivated to make a deal.
Two other reasons to buy now are very low interest rates and the $8000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers. Many buyers do not realize that they qualify for this credit, so I’ll briefly go over the qualifications. If you have not owned your primary residence in the past 3 years, you are considered a “first-time buyer,” and you qualify for the $8000 tax credit. The home must remain your primary residence for 3 years in order to keep the $8000.
I feel very fortunate this year. Even with overall sales down 32%, my sales are up, and our office as a whole is doing very well. Over 10% of all transactions this year have come across my desk. I owe a lot of my success to my staff: Jody Moon is my full-time administrative assistant, and Jarrett Chaney is my computer specialist. Along with Jody and Jarrett, who work directly for me, Barb Taylor and Beth Tollefsen work for the whole office and are critical to our success. Finally, having a good boss makes it fun to come to work, and I have one of the best in the world – Jann Pitcher.
I hope everything is going well for you and your family. Keep thinking positive. If you have any real estate questions about Pagosa or anywhere else in the world, please contact me. If I don’t have the answer, I will find someone who does.