silhouettes-and-sky wideMy listing agent, Georgia Bearup (United Country/Mimbres Realty), was recently out to tour the Berrenda Creek and Lake Valley ranch community. I met Georgia six years ago, and I am really enjoying working with her now to sell my home. She runs a successful business in Silver City, is a fourth-generation New Mexican, and has a deep appreciation of the Black Range/Mimbres Valley area. I like that!

As it turns out, Georgia visited the Berrenda Creek and Lake Valley ranches several years ago, before most of the existing homes were built. Over the course of the afternoon, we bumped along the washboards on Berrenda Road and made our way around the HOA roads and Highway 27 to tour five homes for sale and meet with most of the homeowners. At the end of the day, I asked her for feedback.

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Leslie – What are your impressions of the ranches and the homes for sale?

Georgia – The homes for sale are high-quality builds and I can see that they have been well maintained. A lot of thought was put into positioning the homes for great views and privacy. It’s pretty unique for residents to have recreational access to the ranch and public lands, and this would be very attractive to buyers. The conservation land designation and the cattle operation is not a barrier to selling, but buyers need to understand the covenants up front. My office gets a lot of out-of-state inquiries, and, compared to subdivisions in the Silver City/Mimbres Valley area, the Berrenda and Lake Valley community has fewer homes and more acreage and buyers will definitely feel they are touring a ranch rather than a subdivision. The underground utilities, maintained roads, broadband Internet are very comparable to those in subdivisions near Silver City, and buyers want these types of amenities. While you don’t have many market comps to work from in your area, your listing prices are lower than those of comparable listings in the Silver City area.

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Leslie – During the tour today, one of the homeowners talked about how, 10-15 years ago, conservation-minded buyers snapped up many of the parcels on these two ranches with the intention of building homes. Fast forward to today, do you think people are still interested in moving to rural subdivisions like Berrenda and Lake Valley, or is this a fad of the past?

Georgia – There is a lot of data that shows people still want to move to rural parts of the West — especially out of cold climates — but because of the recession a lot of this activity got put on hold. We’ll see how things move forward this year, but I can tell you that my office in Silver City closed more residential deals the first six months of 2014 than in all of 2013.

Leslie – Yes, when we were looking for a home five years ago, we wanted a remote location with enough land for recreation and privacy but we didn’t want to be without neighbors. I guess it’s the difference between privacy and seclusion.

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Leslie – I keep reading that the skyrocketing cost of new construction and scarcity of general contractors in rural areas will drive buyers toward purchasing existing homes. What impact might this have on the existing homes and building lots for sale at Berrenda and Lake Valley?

 Georgia – The rising cost of constructing a new home is making buyers, who first thought they wanted to build the house of their dreams, realize they should take a closer look at buying an existing home and customizing it to their needs through renovations. During 2014, most of the residential sales out of my office were for existing homes, not buildable lots — probably due to the dramatic jump in building material costs.

Leslie – And then there is the shortage of general contractors and subcontractors for new construction in rural areas. My husband and I are considering building a new home in an equally remote location in the Southwest, and we are having difficulty finding builders. We are learning that many builders and subcontractors left the area during the recent recession. However, we are finding local contractors ready and willing to do renovations, and the going rate for a high-quality renovation seems to be about $70/sq. foot. This is much less expensive than the estimates we’re seeing for new construction costs, which are $190-$220/sq. foot.

Georgia – Yes, the cost to buy an existing home and renovate it to your needs is still less expensive per square foot that the cost of new construction. The homes I toured at Berrenda Creek and Lake Valley are of quality construction, and they would likely meet 80% of what any homeowner would end up building.

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Leslie – There are thirty-four homes in the Berrenda and Lake Valley ranch community and six of them are for sale. Does this seem like a lot of homes for sale in one community?

Georgia – No. The homes for sale are between 4 and 12 years old and all but one is still owned by the homeowner who originally bought the land and built the home. In any community, personal and professional circumstances change and people decide they are ready to sell their home. In addition, the fact that you have a handful of homes for sale means that a buyer can come out to the ranch community for a visit and view more than one home.

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Leslie – What do you think about the road conditions at Berrenda Creek and Lake Valley? You probably noticed that the HOA-maintained roads are in better shape than the county road.

 Georgia – The roads seem typical of what the subdivisions outside of Silver City look like. I don’t think the road conditions would deter buyers who are ready to live in a remote location of New Mexico and in addition to the beautiful homes you really have wonderful views, recreational access, and amenities to offer buyers.

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