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Home market depends on the locale

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By The Staff

“All real estate is local.” You’ve probably heard that somewhere – TV advertising, someone’s comment. But what does it mean? And, why should you care?

On a simplistic level, it suggests you can’t determine market value of a home in one neighborhood simply by comparing it to similarly sized and featured homes in any other neighborhood, in any other community. One size – read price — does not fit all.

The phrase actually encompasses a broader view of an area, including its economic wellbeing. Consider Los Alamos — for all intents and purposes we’re a one-industry town that has undergone a great deal of uncertainty in recent years as the national lab experienced significant management transitions. This affected morale, employment and certainly the local housing market.

Today, however, the community appears to have weathered that particular storm. There is less immediate uncertainty about the lab and its future, and less apprehension regarding job security.

The lab is not immune to the country’s economic issues, but over the past several years its workforce has already seen reductions through various means, including retirement and voluntary leave. We’re told the lab has an annual attrition rate of approximately 5 percent, and while some of those vacancies may not be filled, many others will be filled as-is or even changed into a new position. Though the total number of employees may decline over time, it’s a process that will extend over years, fueled in significant part by natural attrition.

We realtors don’t have that elusive crystal ball that shows us the future. But as local employment jitters decline, we do know that people will be looking to move in, move up and move out.

Operating on “if it bleeds, it leads,” major media has positioned the drop in housing sales as being an across-the-board national event. Clearly the slowdown has extremely serious national implications and trickle-down effects.

But reasons for the slowdown, and its degree of severity, truly do vary from community to community.

In fact, depending on the locale, there are places where it’s an excellent time to buy or sell.

Between dropping sale prices and low interest rates, it’s definitely a buyer’s market. That’s a hard pill to swallow for many sellers, as prices are unlikely to return to the highs of the past market any time soon. But the local market here is moving, which makes it a good time to consider the purchase or sale of a property.

Please don’t allow national ‘doom and gloom’ housing reports be the only source of data influencing whether or not to buy or sell a home.

Take the economic health and stability of this market into consideration, as well as the availability of financing through area lenders.

Los Alamos has many experienced, knowledgeable realtors who can help guide you through the complexities of buying or selling a property.

You’ll find local real estate companies, realtors and other valuable housing-related information in our Los Alamos Association of Realtors web site: www.laaor.com.