A Guide to Buying a House in: New Mexico

(Because anyone can call this beautiful state home)

Late afternoon in the Red Rocks area of Northern New Mexico featuring amazing colors and rock formations

Word on the street is, you're thinking of buying a house in New Mexico. It's your lucky day, because we've already compiled a short guide to the housing market of The Land of Enchantment (their enticing state nickname). We've touched on a few of the most important factors to consider for people in your position, and even thrown in a bit of fun stuff, free of charge. So, let's get rollin'. 

 The Most and Least Expensive Cities in New Mexico

A state covers a lot of territory, and you'll eventually need to narrow down your move to one specific city. It's helpful to know which areas are the most/least pricey before deciding this. We were able to put together a list of a few in each column, just for you.

Most expensive cities:

  • Santa Fe
  • Angel Fire
  • Los Alamos
  • Taos
  • Albuquerque

Least expensive cities:

  • Raton
  • Las Vegas
  • Tucumcari
  • Roswell
  • Portales

So now you've got a good place to start when you begin crossing off your options for a potential new home location. Your wallet/bank account will sincerely thank you for taking their feelings into consideration before committing to such a major decision.

No matter where you choose to buy your new home, you can always find affordable home insurance within our trusted network.

New Mexico's Housing Market

Before seriously looking into buying a house in a new state, it's a pretty good idea to know a little about the housing market in the place. So without further ado, let's move right along to an overview of New Mexico's housing market.

According to stats from the Realtors Association of New Mexico, the month of January in 2018 was the best month for home sales in the state since 2008. Median sale prices are apparently climbing, as well as mortgage rates - but don't panic, it's not a bad thing. 

Rates and prices are still at a historically low point, and the recent rise shouldn't be enough to scare new buyers off, they say. New Mexico's average amount of time a home spends on the market lately is 76 days.

What's the hottest place to move to in New Mexico these days, you ask? Well, apparently it's the state's capital, Santa Fe, which is the most moved-to city in New Mexico. Home values here average about $331,900 and are listed on the market for about $481,433. The price per square foot is around $235, and home values have increased 6.7% over 2018. 

Why would anyone want to move to Santa Fe, specifically? Well, it's apparently super dog-friendly, has lots of festivals and other outdoor activities, and is rich in culture. Locals say the food scene here is  epic, too. It's also packed with lots of historical architecture and has some great hiking trails through its mountains.

But that's not all that's going on in New Mexico these days. There's a good bit of new construction underway, especially in the central area of the northern part of the state, around Santa Fe. There's a good bit of new development in progress a bit further south, around Albuquerque, too. 

Lastly, there is new construction scattered across the southern border of the state, most of which is happening around Las Cruces. If you're on the hunt for a brand-new place, now you know where to look.

Home Property Values and Costs in New Mexico

Alright, so now we know more about where specifically to shop for a new home in the state, but it'd also help to know just how much these homes are going to cost. So, onward to home prices and property values we go.

To start off, the average home value in New Mexico currently is about $192,000, and that homes are listed on the market for about $224,900. Renting a house will cost you about $1,200/month. The price per square foot is around $132. And as far as home appreciation goes, home values rose 8.4% over the past year, and are expected to rise another 3.3% within the upcoming year.

Apartment/condo-seekers, you're up next. You can find a place in Santa Fe for an average of $1,048/month. In Rio Rancho, places average $862/month. Albuquerque has places listed for around $834/month. According to bestplaces.net, you can find a one-bedroom in Roswell for $505/month, or in Aztec for $720/month. 

Don't worry, townhouse lovers, we didn't forget about you. The range in rent for a townhouse in New Mexico starts off on the low side at around $435/month for a one-bed/one-bath joint, and caps off on the high side for about $2,700/month for a three-bed/three-bath joint.

You May Need Flood Insurance in New Mexico

Before you crank that decision knob all the way up to 100%, you might want to know about potential state-specific mandatory insurance policies. New Mexico's most prone to wildfires and flooding, in the natural disasters category. And while homeowners insurance will typically cover damage from wildfires, it doesn't ever cover flood damage.

So basically, if you're in an area deemed to be high-risk, you might be required by your mortgage lender to purchase extra coverage specifically for flooding. But it's important to note that even areas not in designated high-risk areas might still require this coverage. Why? Because as that old annoying expression goes, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Alright, so you might need it, but what exactly IS it? Well, broken down, flood insurance will cover your property (the actual structure of your home and the belongings in it - to an extent) if natural water (i.e. ,rain, waves, etc.) wreaks havoc. Many policies will say that the water must cover at least two acres of normally dry land in order to qualify for reimbursement. 

If you're not a fan of flooding or having to purchase extra homeowners insurance policies to cover natural disaster stuff, you might want to look into areas in the state that aren't prone to flooding - but really, every place has its problems.

Quality of Schools in New Mexico

If you're thinking of learning some stuff after you buy your next home in a new place, you might be interested in the quality of the school system in that area. So, let's move right along to an overview of New Mexico's schools.

Here are some 2018 WalletHub stats about how New Mexico schools ranked in the country:

  • #51 overall - including all states and DC (#1 being the best)
  • #2 for highest dropout rates
  • #3 for lowest math test scores
  • #2 for lowest reading scores
  • #47 in terms of safety

New Mexico's top rated schools are the Albuquerque Institute for Mathematics & Science and the University of New Mexico, both located in - you guessed it - Albuquerque.

Reasons to Move to New Mexico (...or not)

Okay, that's enough of the super-factual/serious stuff for now. On to the more fun segment of our guide. It's possible you're wondering why you'd even want to move to New Mexico at all. Well, let's hear a short list of a few pros and cons of New Mexico life, from people who already live there.

PROs (as voted by real-life New Mexicans):

  • Cost of education: New Mexico has some of the most affordable schools in the country. In fact, the average cost of in-state tuition is $3,181. Thinking of getting your bookworm on? This might be a good place to do it, at least as far as the money factor is concerned.
  • Scenic landscapes: The great outdoors in New Mexico really ARE great. From desert terrain to forested mountains and jaw-dropping New Mexican sunsets, you'd almost have to be crazy to want to spend any of your time indoors.  
  • Rich culture: From the food and arts scene to the history of the place, New Mexico is dripping with culture. Santa Fe holds the impressive title of the oldest established state capital in the US, as well as the state's oldest city. And the diverse population only adds to the mix. Itching for some culture? This is the place for you.
  • Even aliens love it: There was an infamous UFO sighting in the town of Roswell in 1947. Seriously, it even inspired a teen drama sci-fi show in 1999 (named after the town). New Mexico was referred to as the "Ground Zero for unexplained activity that may or may not indicate life beyond our atmosphere." Apparently there was a sighting of a "mysterious object" just in February 2018, reported by two pilots in Albuquerque. Sci-fi lovers would absolutely love it here. 

CONs (also from the mouths of real New Mexicans):

  • Quality of education: New Mexico ranked at the bottom of WalletHub's list of the Best and Worst Schools in the U.S. in 2018. Additionally, rates of high school and college graduation are well below the national average, at just under 70%. The poverty in the state's rural areas could contribute to this issue.
  • Economy: New Mexico's unemployment rate of 5.6% is above the national average. As of fall 2018, U.S. News ranked the state at #48 out of 50 on a list of the best states, with New Mexico's economy ranking at #46 for the country. The state's been  experiencing an outward net migration lately, largely consisting of people searching for employment opportunities in other areas. 
  • Crime rate: According to crime stats released by the FBI in 2018, New Mexico ranked as the second-most dangerous state in the US. The state also has the third-highest poverty rate in the country, at 19.8%. The most dangerous metro area is Farmington. It's a safe move to take all of this into consideration before packing your bags.
  • Natural predators: According to fs.usda.gov, some of the most common natural predators in New Mexico are black bears, bobcats, mountain lions and coyotes. These aren't critters you'll want to pet. So keep your distance if you encounter one on one of your hikes through New Mexico's gorgeous mountains.

Stuff to Do in New Mexico

Great, so now we're a little more clear on WHY people move to New Mexico, but WHAT do locals here do for fun when they're not trying to outrun mountain lions? Well, we checked in with some real-life New Mexicans, and got the inside scoop on some stuff to do - from parks to caves to monuments. There's loads of stuff to see and do here.

Here are just a few of the state's coolest attractions:

  • International UFO Museum and Research Center: In Roswell you can find a museum that details the events of the infamous crash of 1947, as well as subsequent UFO sighting claims from 'round the globe. You'll also gain some insight about what inspired the once-popular sci-fi TV series, Roswell
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park: Want to see gorgeous views of deep canyons and play nice with some desert wildlife? Head to the Guadalupe Mountains to explore this park. Once you're done exploring the surface, you can head below ground to the 100+ caves that dwell under the Chihuahuan Desert. You won't find any tiny shivering dogs here, though.
  • Chaco Culture National Historical Park: Near Nageezi, you'll find a glimpse into the prehistoric past - from about 850 - 1250 A.D., that is. The area housed thousands of people during that time, and is rich in history. A visit today allows you to explore the ginormous ancestral Pueblo buildings that are dotted throughout the land.
  • Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument: Not far from Silver City, you'll find this 533-acre monument that was originally built as a home for ancient Mogollon people. The dwellings are thought to have been used as homes from as early as 1275 through the early 1300s. Now THAT'S ancient history.
  • The Lightning Field: Near Pie Town (don't get too excited, there's no free pie - we checked), you'll find this land artwork created by sculptor Walter De Maria in 1977. Made up of 400, 20-foot tall stainless steel poles arranged in a precise grid, the work exists to tempt lightning to strike in an awe-inspiring, pretty fashion. The tips are said to create a perfect horizontal plane when viewed from above. Of course, to witness an actual storm here would be frickin' DANGEROUS - that's why you'll have to sign a waiver to visit. You'll also have to ride in provided transportation to the site - you can't take your own car.

Carving Out a New Home in New Mexico

Alright folks, there it is - our Reader's Digest version of a guide to New Mexico's housing market with a bit of fun stuff served on the side. Though we're not able to cover EVERYTHING about the place in order to help you with your decision (we've got some ancient caves to explore), we're hoping you'll leave us more informed and closer to decision-ville than when you joined us.

So, if New Mexico feels like the right place for you to call your next home, then grab your lightning repellent and hit the road. Make sure your new home is covered properly with an affordable home insurance policy.

Good luck.

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