Monday, October 12, 2015

Metro Homes 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
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 “”
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.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Home Sales Up 23% from June 2014

In June monthly sales of metro Albuquerque single family detached homes continued above the comparable month of 2014. The metro saw sales close on 924 homes during June, 23% over June 2014 and a nice 8% increase from May. The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the June sales report late Friday.
Pending sales, the harbinger of sales closing the next month, jumped 26.5% from June 2014. However, pending sales dropped 46 units from May. Pending in June 2014 were down 56 from May 2014.
The homes that closed during June spent relatively little time on the market, an average of 56 days. The inventory of homes available for sale has been below 2014 for all of 2015.
The median price for detached homes closed during June was $190,788, up 6% from May 2015 and from June 2014 and the highest since 2012.
The average price was $226,337, the highest since $230,750 in July 2014. The average
below the comparable month of 2014 during both April and May. However, for June the average price increased 6% from June 2014. June’s average was up 3.6% from May and 7% from April.
The increase in average price came without help from million dollar homes. None closed during June. There were 48 homes sold during June in the two prime groups from $500,000 to $999,000, nearly double the 25 homes in those two groups sold during 2014.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Balloon Puzzle in Minnesota

In one of the waiting rooms at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, there are several jigsaw puzzles to help people pass the waiting time. This morning a young woman was working on one depicting the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. She said attending the fiesta was on her list of life things to do, "bucket list," I think she said.
Msyo in Rochester attracts an international crowd. As one measure, burkas are popular among the women. SO the Balloon fiesta message, however it got there, hits an international audience.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Violence in NM

We are number nine, says Alaska is no. 1 with 2013 firearm death rate of 19.6 per 100,000.The report was done by, which produces lots of lists.

"New Mexico
"2013 firearm death rate: 15.4 per 100,000
"Total firearm deaths 2004-2013: 2,983 (19th lowest)
"Violent crime rate: 613.0 (2nd highest)
"Permit required to buy handgun: No
"Like most states across the country, the largest proportion of gun-related deaths in New Mexico was attributable to suicide. The age-adjusted firearm suicide rate of 10.3 per 100,000 was the ninth highest rate in the country. New Mexico also had the highest death rate by legal intervention — deaths caused by police or other law-enforcement officials — in the country. In general, New Mexico residents were exposed to a large number of crimes. The state reported 613 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, the second highest rate in the country. Low education levels and widespread poverty may partly explain the high gun violence and deaths. Nearly 22% of New Mexico’s population lived in poverty, substantially higher than the national poverty rate of 15.8%. Additionally, only 84.3% of adults had at least a high school diploma, the sixth lowest rate in the country."

Oklahoma is 8th. The other three four-corners stated don't make the top ten.