COVID-19 keeps real estate market busy


December 29, 2021

COVID-19 taketh away, but it also giveth in the local real-estate market.

Two agents in Tucumcari with a total of more than 30 years of experience in the sector recently said the past year or so is the busiest they ever have seen for home sales.

Both largely credited the pandemic for bringing new interest and new potential property owners to the region.

Tonya Ridgon has worked as an agent at Trousdale Real Estate in Tucumcari for 11 years. She and a colleague with more than 20 years in the market said the past year was unprecedented in sales.

“It’s been the busiest year we’ve ever had. It’s been crazy,” Rigdon said. “Inventory is very low right now. We’ve got people calling from all over the United States, coming to look at property or coming to buy property.”

Rigdon said prospective customers are looking at homes both in the city of Tucumcari and rural areas of Quay County.

She said the pandemic has prompted potential customers to move out of large metropolitan areas.

“Just about everyone I’ve talked to, they want out of the city,” Rigdon said. “They figure they can work remotely now, and they’re tired of having neighbors, tired of the politics, and they can sell their houses in California, Arizona and Colorado for way more than they paid for them, come here, buy a decent house and still have money in their pocket.”

In addition to the states she mentioned, Rigdon also said she’s received interest from people in Ohio and Iowa.

“Just all over the place,” she added.

Rigdon acknowledged the prospect of legal recreational marijuana and new interest from The Most Famous Artist collective members, whose founder moved to Tucumcari last summer, also has boosted the local real-estate market.

But both pale in comparison to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rigdon cautioned to residents thinking of selling their homes at overly inflated prices should reconsider it — especially if lenders are involved.

“People that live here and are thinking of selling their homes, now they think their homes are worth twice as much as what they are,” she said. “You can price it for whatever you want, but if it doesn’t appraise for that …”

Rigdon said prospective homebuyers are “looking at everything” from $5,000 to $200,000 in price. Even abandoned homes that are salvageable draw interest — if their owners can be found.

“A lot of them are parents who’ve died who left the kids the house, and the kids have no interest in the house or trying to fix it up or whatever,” she said. “It’s kind of sad, because there are people looking for those.”

Rigdon said she’s seen signs the local real-estate market will cool, mostly because of a lack of homes to sell.

“Usually, we might have anywhere from 10 to 15 listings. I think, right now, we have four or five,” she said. “And a lot of those places haven’t sold already is because the buyers want them fixed up.

“To try to find a contractor or an electrician or a plumber is difficult. The ones that are here are so busy, half the time they don’t even return phone calls. We really need electricians and plumbers. Even a handyman or a painter, they’re in definite need here.”

She said if there’s one thing to make Tucumcari more attractive to home buyers, it would be repairing its streets.

“I had a lady come from California yesterday. She loves the house, loves the area, but she didn’t love Tucumcari. ‘Why are the streets here so bad?’ That seems to be the No. 1 complaint,” Rigdon said.

Richard Randals, broker for New Mexico Property Group in Tucumcari, agreed with Rigdon’s assessment of the local real-estate market.

“It’s been wonderful. It’s been amazingly good. In my 20 years, it’s been the best I’ve had in the residential market,” he said. “I had two places where I hardly had time to even get it on the market and I had an offer and sold it. Many places are bringing close to asking price.”

He agreed the pandemic juiced the local market.

“It’s like when COVID hit, the market went crazy. It’s people who want to get out of the city. I’ve sold two or three from people in the northeast Michigan, just people wanting out of the cold, can’t stand the cold anymore,” he added.

Randals said he’s not been getting as many phone calls and emails lately. He said part of the reason is home lending has slowed.

“The title offices are just backed up. I had two FHA loans, and it’s just a headache with how long it takes with the underwriters,” he said.

Randals said local sellers are “getting more” money for their property, but completing the loan process in some cases has become more complicated.

“That’s another hard thing to get: an appraiser. They’re busy,” he said.


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