Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Home Sales Cool For Fall, Continue Above 2014

Seasonality appeared in metro Albuquerque’s real estate market during October as sales of single family detached homes dropped 6.7% from September’s closed sales of 886 homes to 835 in October. The improved market is seen in October’s 10.2% sales increase over the 758 sales in October 2014.
The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the October sales report this afternoon.
Pending sales were 958 homes during October, a seasonal-looking 4.2%, or 42 homes, from 1,000 sales that were pending during September. October saw 83% of the September pending sales turn into closed sales. Pending sales were more than 1,000 homes for seven months ending in September.
Those October sales that closed were on the market an average of 59 days, marking the fifth consecutive month with an average sales period of less than 60 days.
The median sales price of $185,000 during October was up 5.7% from October 2014 and increased 11.4% from October 2013. The median price increased 2.2% from $180,850 in September.
By contrast, the average prices dropped $8,101 from September to $216,252 in October. That was a 3.6% decline. Speculation here, but the decline from September might be partly due to no one dollar million plus priced homes selling during September and punching up the average.
The October sales came in a market where sellers continue to offer less product to buyers. Available listings were 3,763 during October, a 20% drop from October 2014. This was the third month with a year over year inventory decline of around 20%.
Attached homes and condominiums show about the same pattern as the detached homes with closed and pending sales well up from October 2014 and the number of listings down 24% from a year ago.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Abq, Farmington Dominate Job Growth

The Albuquerque/Farmington metro job growth combo continued to dominate the state in the year from September 2014 to September 2015. The year-on-year switch from recent months is that the rest of the state lost jobs if one subtracts the 8,700 new wage jobs in Albuquerque and Farmington.
The statewide gain was 7,600 jobs, a 0.9% increase that trailed every state in the region except Wyoming, which isn’t quite in the southwest and which lost 0.9% of its jobs. Oklahoma’s 0.1% increase was closed to New Mexico. Job growth in the other states bordering New Mexico was 1.7%, Colorado; 1.9%, Texas; 2.3% Arizona; 3.9% Utah.
The numbers here are not seasonally adjusted.
At 2.1%, Albuquerque’s annual increase of 7,800 jobs was decent on a percentage basis. Farmington’s 900-job increase was 1.8%. The Las Cruces recession continued with a 1,300-job or 1.8% job loss for period. Santa Fe dropped 100 jobs.
The figures were released yesterday in the Labor Market Review newsletter of the Department of Workforce Solutions.
In Albuquerque the big gainers year-over-year were professional and business services (+3,000); construction (+2,000); education and health services (+1,900); and leisure and hospitality (+1,400). Manufacturing, retail and government together lost 800 obs.
For Las Cruces, professional and business services (-700) and construction (-600) explain the job losses. Smaller losses in manufacturing, leisure and hospitality, services and government were offset by gains in education and health services, retail and transportation.
In oil news, employment Lea County employment was down 1,500 for the year.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Mediocre Job Growth continues, Unemployment Rate Up

During September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today, 37 states and the District of Columbia showed a lower unemployment than in August. Six states were higher, seven showed no change.
New Mexico was one of the six with 6.8% unemployment in September, 6.7% in August and 5.9% in September 2014.
One reason for the unemployment rate increase is that our labor force grew by 7,000 people in the year between September 2014 and September 2015. Employment went from 858,900 in September 2014 to 861,200 a year later.
One might argue that once people are optimistic enough to join the labor force and seek employment, it takes a while to get the job. A ringer in the logic is that on a seasonally adjusted basis, the labor force has dropped 6,100 since July to 923,700 in September.
Remove the adjustment and our labor force—916,300 in September—is down a bit during the year and up by 1,300 since August.
Wage job growth over the year hung in at mediocre with 0,9% increase, or 7,600 jobs. Still, jobs are jobs.
The sector growth leader was education and health services, up 2,900 jobs, or 2.2% for the year. Second place went to leisure and hospitality, tourism in other words, with a 2.7%, or 2,500-job, one-year increase or about a third of the state’s total gain. Tourism dropped 3,200 jobs in August, presumably as the temporary hires became unhired. Professional and business services was third with 2,000 more jobs over the year, though down 1,000 from August.
Mining, meaning oil and gas, was the leading sector loser, down 1,100 jobs. Retail trade dropped 700 job while whole increase 300.
Local government growth continues with 900 more jobs, 400 of them in education.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Metro Home Sales Continue Well Above 2014

New mortgage rules, effective this month, may squeeze home sales nationally, reported the Wall Street today, just as the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors issued the September sales report. In theory the new rules are supposed to make it easier to understand mortgage terms. But, following the rule about never being able to do just one thing, other pieces of the mortgage process have changed with possible negative effects.
Other proposed federal rules have driven some big lenders from the mortgage business. J.P. Morgan has mostly dropped FHA lending, which will hurt first-time and credit-poor buyers. Wells Fargo will raise its minimum credit score from 600 to 640.
In metro Albuquerque during September, closed sales of single family detached homes dropped 62 units, or 7%, from August. Pending sales dropped 8%, or 87 units, from August. The changes appear to be seasonal as sales slow during the fall from the summer.
Closed sales were 886 homes during September. Pending sales were 1,000 homes. September closed sales were 82% of the 1,087 sales that were pending during August.
The home that closed sales were on the market an average of 57 days, the fourth consecutive month under 60 days.
The September sales performance remained well ahead of 2014. Closed sales increased 26% from September 2014 with pending sales up 17%.
The average sales price for September, $224,353, was the third highest of 2015, but just a whisker behind June and August which both were just over $226,000. The average sales price appears to have gotten a boost from strong sales in the higher price categories, those including homes priced at more than $250,000.
However, the median price, $180,850, was down $9,100, or 5% from August, and was the third lowest price since May. Even so, the September median was up 3.3% from a year ago.
The absorption rate dropped to 4.87 months for September, meaning that it would take 4.87 months to sell the metro’s current inventory of homes. A six-month supply is the traditional definition of an average market, GAAR says. The absorption rate has been below six months since December 2014.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Metro Albuquerque Leads in August Job Gains

August wage job numbers for metro areas show Albuquerque continuing to dominate the metro and state performance (now there’s a switch from the past few years) with Farmington well behind, Santa Fe with no growth and Las Cruces losing. The Department of Workforce Solutions released the numbers late Friday with the issue of its Labor Market Review newsletter.
Albuquerque added 5,500 new jobs between August 2014 and August 2015. Education and health services “only” added 2,100 new jobs over the year, 38% of the Albuquerque total. EHS added 183% of the state’s 3,000 net jobs for the period. At 0.4%, the state’s jobs growth year-over-year ranked 45th nationally. Three states gained jobs at a lower rate than New Mexico and three states lost jobs.
Professional and business services led Albuquerque’s gains with 2,500 jobs. The Duke City’s other gainers were construction, +900, and leisure and hospitality (tourism), +800.
DWS does not provide detail that would allow us to explain Farmington’s 800 net new jobs.
In Santa Fe, EHS and tourism (leisure and hospitality) were the sector leaders, up 500 and 200 jobs respectively over the year. Construction lost 600 jobs.
Las Cruces’ year-over-year jobs losses were led by 900 fewer jobs in professional businesses services and a drop of 700 in construction.
The statewide net new job total was 2,800 between July and August with government provided 5,500 jobs and construction losing 2,500. Three quarters of the August government jobs came from local government education, meaning that school started. These figures are not seasonally adjusted. Over the August-to-August year, local government education lost 1,300 jobs, again not seasonally adjusted.

Friday, September 18, 2015

August Job Report: Govt, Construction, Services, Mining Lose Big

Real job growth disappeared in New Mexico during August, as compared to August 2014. What that means is that the education and health services sector produced 5,500 new wage jobs during the year. Since the sector is driven by Medicaid growth, I don’t consider the jobs real, in the sense of producing wealth for New Mexicans and building the state.
The Department of Workforce Solutions and the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the August job summary this afternoon.
The state generated 3,000 new jobs, year-over-year. All the other sectors lost 2,500 jobs. Education and health services made up the difference. Leisure and hospitality (tourism) produced 3,300 new jobs. So the rest of the state, minus those two, lost 5,800 jobs. That’s a lot.
Government, down 2,200, led the losers, followed by “other services,” minus 1,500. Construction lost 2,000 jobs. The oil slump caught up with New Mexico, producing the loss of 1,000 jobs in mining, which includes oil and gas.
The only other good news was 1,300 jobs, year-over-year, in professional and business services.
The unemployment rate nudged up to 6.7% from 6.5% in July and 6.4% in July 2014. New Mexico and Nebraska were the only two states with statistically significant unemployment rate increases.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

August Abq Home Sales Drop From July

The Business First newspaper accepted the word from the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors that August was a good month for home sales in metro Albuquerque. And it was a good month, but GAAR, which released the August sales report today, was blowing a little smoke.
The good news came in comparison to August 2014. In comparison to July and June, the indicators were down.
During August, buyers closed on 948 home purchases, 15% more than the 22 sales closed during August 2014. Homes with the sale pending during August were 1,087, a 27% increase from a year before.
Closed and pending sales were down six percent from July and also declined from June.
The homes that closed were on the market an average of 54 days, two days quicker than June and five days ahead of August.
Sales of townhouses and condominiums behaved in roughly the same way with a nice increase from August 2014 and down from July 2015. A difference with detached homes is that condo sales prices, both the median and the average, dropped from July and from August 2014.
For detached homes, median and average prices increased from July—7% to $226,254 for the average prices and, for the median, 3% to $189,950. The prices also showed a healthy increase from August 2014 and were the highest August prices since 2006 for the median and 2008 for the average. However, both median and average prices were below June.
During August, three homes in metro Albuquerque sold for $1 million or more. My guess is that these three pulled up the average price by $2,250.
My favorite rough metric relates closed sales in one month to pending sales the previous month. The theory is that since sales take about 45 days to close, sales close in the month following the appearance on the pending list. During June, 80% of the May pending sales closed. For July the pending sales percentage was a very high 85% with 82% in August.
If the seasonal pattern appears, sales will drop again in September. During 2014, August sales of detached homes were 822 followed by September with 703 sales.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Spaceport Called Great "New Place to See"

The cover story in the September issue of the Smithsonian magazine is "The 25 Greatest New Places to See." Spaceport America is on the list. Lest one think that Smithsonian has a thing about interesting large and really isolated buildings, the short accompanying article is about Virgin Galactic, which plans, someday, suborbital flights from the Spaceport. Find the article somewhere at http://www.smithsonianmag.com.
Meanwhile, in the much shorter term,filming of a movie, "The Space Between Us," begins September 16 at the Spaceport and then moves to Albuquerque and Santa Fe through early November. The schedule reflects the film business project mode.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Abq, Farm. Grow in July; SF, LC Do Not

Albuquerque and Farmington accounted for 9,200 of the 9,600 wages jobs added in New Mexico between July 201 and July 2015. The report comes in the new issue of the Labor Market Review, released late Friday afternoon by the Department of Workforce Solutions. The division was 1,400 new Farmington jobs and 7,800 in Albuquerque.
Las Cruces and Santa Fe again went the other way. Las Cruces lost 300 wage jobs for the period. Santa Fe dropped 400.
New Mexico’s 1.2% job gain beat a neighboring state for the first time in about forever. Oklahoma, which has a short border with our northeast corner showed 0.8% job growth for the period.
For the June to July month, wage jobs statewide and not seasonally adjusted dropped by 4,100, mainly due to school getting out.
With 2,600 new jobs year-over-year, education and health services (i.e., Medicaid) wasn’t even Albuquerque’s big gainer. That honor went to professional and business services wth 2,800 more jobs. Leisure and hospitality added 1,400 jobs.
The private sector provided 1,300 of Farmington’s 1,400 new jobs. No further detail is provided for Farmington.
Education and health services added 700 jobs in Santa Fe for the year. Professional and business services added 100. The losers were leisure and hospitality, construction, finance and other services.
In Las Cruces, education and health services added 500 jobs with 300 each in retail and transportation, both due to Santa Teresa, perhaps. Professional and business services, construction and government lost.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Change Your Perspective

Yesterday the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau unveiled a new “brand campaign” with the tagline “change your perspective” and promotional approaches we over-65 types hadn’t seen before. Along the way ACVB and its agency, McKee Wallwork & Co., remembered a truism about websites—that the key word, “Albuquerque” in this case, ought to be in the name of the site, which they almost accomplished. The new site is “visitabq.com.”
The logic is explained n a paragraph from ACVB’s backgrounder. “The campaign hits the sweet spot at the intersection of what travelers want from a vacation destination and what Albuquerque offers so well. The key insight: people travel not only because they want to see different things, but because they want to see things differently; they seek a change in perspective.”
Listening to the detail of the research behind the campaign, the thought dawned that we do indeed need to change our perspective about almost everything in Albuquerque and in New Mexico.
An ultra-establishment Albuquerque civic leader who attended the presentation agrees. Doing little that might endanger election to another post unites the approach of Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and Governor Susana Martinez, this man said.
Offered highways as a perception change topic, Mr. Establishment said that dogmatically opposing raising the gas tax was ridiculous. When I mentioned toll roads, he said he didn’t understand why toll roads are not considered here.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Rep. Lujan Cops Out of Leading Animas Mine Spill Accountability

Just after 6:00 PM this evening, that is, just a few minutes ago, the KOB TV 6 PM news had reporter Chris Ramirez asking U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan if he was going to lead the seeking of accountability from the EPA for the Animas River toxic mine waste spill. Lujan copped out. He told Ramirez, as I heard it, that there has to be accountability. But he did not say he would lead that effort.
Hey, Ben Ray, I would have thought that leading the effort would be your job. Further, leading the effort and standing up for the people you represent might well have brought all sorts of political glory.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Monthly Sales Over 1,000 for First Time Since 2007

During July metro Albuquerque sales of single family detached homes rose a little from June, about what happened a year ago. The difference is that the 1,157 sales during July were 23% higher than during July 2014, according to the monthly sales report released today by the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors (GAAR).
A quick glance at the history says that June 2007 was the last time monthly single closed sales cracked 1,000 units.
The July closed sales accounted for 85% of the 1,188 sales pending during June, a high figure. In July, pending sales dropped to 1,157 units, suggesting that closed sales may drop during August. July’s pending sales were 17.3% more than July 2014, likely leaving room for year-over-year sales continuing ahead of 2014.
Homes sold during July were on the market an average of 56 days, three days more than June, but a day quicker than the 60 recorded for July 2014.
Prices were lower, though, both from June and from July 2014. The median price, $185,000, dropped about 2.5% from $190,788 in June and $190,000 in July 2014. The average price dropped eight percent from $230,750 in July 2014 to $212,345 last month and from $226,337 in June.
Condo/townhouse sales run around ten percent of detached home sales. That rough ratio held during July 107 closed sales. The difference was the 42% improvement from 75 sales in July 2014.
Since December 2014, metro Albuquerque has reported less than a 5.5-month supply of homes for sale. “An average market is traditionally a six-month supply,” GAAR says.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Abq Jobs Up 2.2%, SF, LC Down

Average weekly manufacturing sector wages dropped from almost $50/week from June 2014 to June 2015, the Department of Workforce Solutions reported n the Labor Market Review newsletter released Tuesday. Sector average wages were $726.68 in June 2014 and $678.12 a year later. The drop was due to lowers wages and fewer hours worked.
Not that manufacturing is a big deal in the state with about three percent of wage jobs. But it is an important part of the basic employment group, sectors that ship their products from the state and are paid with money originating from outside the state.
But even this claim is less than meets the eye. Manufacturing includes printing and publishing, nearly all of which is sold within the state.
During the year from June 2014 to June 2015, the wage job total, seasonally adjusted, grew by 10,900, a measly 1.3 percent increase, from 816,400 to 827,300.
Even this increase, though welcome, is something of a charade, at least with regards to building a solid economy and increasing the wealth of New Mexicans. That’s because about two-thirds of the increase, or 6,500 jobs, came in the education and health services sector.
I finally got around to asking a wizard friend, a labor economist, what was happening. The reply was, “Healthcare has been strong for quite some time both due to Medicaid and Affordable Healthcare Act. Also, when one looks at the (more detailed) data most of the growth is in Ambulatory Health Care Services, and Social Assistance with just marginal increases in Hospitals and Nursing and Residential Care Facilities.”
In other words, government action explains much of the increase. Not good.
Metro area performance remains mixed.
Albuquerque added 8,300 wage jobs, not seasonally adjusted, a decent enough 2.2 percent increase, from June 2014 to June 2015. But that was two-thirds of the state’s 12,700 job increase, again not seasonally adjusted.
Professional and business services led Albuquerque with 3,600 new jobs, 90 percent of the sectors increase statewide over the June to June year. Education and health care added 2,700 jobs in Albuquerque, a third of the 7,700-job increase statewide.
For Farmington, little detail is available other than the grand totals. Well, maybe not grand, but pretty good. The 1,100 new wage jobs represented 2.2 percent growth rate.
Las Cruces and Santa Fe both lost jobs during the year. Las Cruces was down 400 jobs, Santa Fe dropped 100.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Horse Show Off to OKC

On the plane June 18 from Minneapolis to Albuquerque, we happened to sit next to a woman coming to judge the Youth National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show being held in Albuquerque this week. The show is at Tingley Coliseum at Expo New Mexico, aka the state fairgrounds.
The show goes to Oklahoma City next year and will not return to Albuquerque, at least not anytime soon, our seat-mate indicated.
Tingley might best (and most politely) be called a big old barn. It is inadequate in all respects, she said, for the 800 horses (I think she said 800.)
That OKC got aggressive explains the change. We did not. She appeared to have no special affection for Albuquerque or Oklahoma City. This was business.
According to a July 16 Albuquerque Journal story, “A key factor in selecting Oklahoma City over Albuquerque was its infusion of $100 million in improvements to Oklahoma City’s State Fair Park, the venue that will host the youth Arabian show from 2016 through at least 2018, Glenn Petty, executive vice president for AHA, told the Journal in March.”
I doubt that the fairgrounds rise (or sink) to the level of the state’s deep and structural troubles. But the situation does raise the priority question. Do we care? Not so much, apparently.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Jobs Up 1.6% in June

Nothing statistically significant happened to the overall New Mexico job picture between June 2104 and June 2015, nor between May 2015 and June 2015, said the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics today in its monthly jobs release. The BLS phrase actually was that the biggest bunch of states were “not appreciably different” from either June 2014 or May 2015.
The exception was our unemployment rate, “significantly different” at 6.4% for June from the 5.3% national rate.
Nonagricultural wages jobs were 825,600 in June, down 6,600 from May but up 12,600 from June 2014, a 1.6% increase.
Education and health services remained the star with a 7,700 year-over-year job gain, or 6.2%. As noted before, these increases don’t make sense. Maybe they are Medicaid. Or Obamacare? Get out your salt shaker, the one with the big grains.
Next comes the professional and business services with 4,000 presumably non-funky new wage jobs over the year, a 4% gain.
Leisure and hospitality follows with 2,900 new wage jobs from June 2014 to June 2015. A few weeks ago the tourism department releases its latest market study and claimed a very good year for tourism.
Other services lost 2,400 jobs for the year, followed by construction, down 1,400.