Realtors: Housing demand strong

Argen Duncan

The local housing market is slower than in the past but doing better than most of the nation, people involved in that market have said.

“Compared to the rest of the country, we’ve really been blessed in Curry and Roosevelt counties,” said Wanda Graham of Kiva Realty in Portales.

The area has seen foreclosures, but not as many as in other parts of the country, she said. People continue to buy and sell homes, although less than in the past.

According to information from Graham, Portales real estate agents sold 52 homes this year. They ranged in price from $16,500 for an 1,848-square-foot house to $257,295 for a 2,179-square-foot house.

Portales Home Spot Director of Manufactured Homes Troy Hinton agreed the market for homes was “reasonably strong.” The economy is good in this area, he said, but the overall American economy worries people.

“Buyers are very cautious,” he said.

Hinton said entry- to mid-level manufactured homes are the most popular because housing is expensive.

Last year, Hinton said, he saw a 10 percent increase in sales of manufactured homes, and this year, Portales Home Spot is on track for a 20 percent increase.

Graham and Hinton both said the rental market is strong, and properties don’t sit empty long.

“If we had five rentals, we could rent them 15 times each,” Graham said.

Clovis-Portales Association of Realtors President Bonnie Wright said houses renting for $650-$950 per month are in short supply.

Roosevelt County Community Development Corporation Executive Director Greg Fisher said city building permit numbers appear to be on track for the same number of new construction projects as last year, 60-70 units.

City of Portales records show 60 new single- and multi-family dwellings received building permits in the 2009-2010 fiscal year. According to the records, 42 new single- and multi-family homes and six new manufactured homes were permitted in the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

Hinton said growth and demand for housing has kept the local home market strong. Wright named contractors at Cannon Air Force Base, the railroad and the planned electrical superstation Tres Amigas as factors.

“Our financing is pretty positive,” she said, adding that lenders can solve problems and work with people.

In addition, Wright said low mortgage rates are helping people afford to buy.

Hinton said the Portales Home Spot loan specialist has no trouble helping people with good credit and a down payment find loans.

Lenders have a lot of money, and people want to invest it in real estate, he said. However, with new federal rules, getting a loan means lots of red tape.

“It’s not really difficult; it just takes time,” Hinton said.

Fisher said real estate agents have told him U.S. Air Force personnel often buy homes because they can get Veterans Administration loans that cost less than rent payments.

However, Graham said many people are moving to Portales and Clovis owing more on homes in other places than those houses are worth, keeping them from buying again.