Thursday, December 10, 2015

Say What? ABQ The Worst Place To Own A Home In The USA The Past 4 Years? Study Says So; Plus: The ABQ Zeitgeist; Reflections On Our City's Future In 2016 And Beyond 

We continue to blog stuff what seems other worldly for our once thriving Sunbelt metropolis. Like this write-up from Fortune Magazine. It lists ABQ as the worst place in the nation to own a home since the start of the real estate recovery in 2012. That's dead last among 350 metro areas in the USA. Pretty stunning. Home values have been on the rebound just about everywhere during that time, but. . .

In Albuquerque, for example, home of Sandia National Laboratory, Kirtland Air Force Base, and the University of New Mexico, the government sector comprises nearly 21% of all employment compared with 14% nationally. With tight state, local and federal budgets, a more robust employment expansion has been hampered since prior to 2012. 

And here's more on why ABQ is the USA's cellar dweller when it comes to your home price increasing--news you will probably only get from our real deal biz coverage:

Real-estate data firm Trulia. . . looked at data like home values and vacancy rates in more than 350 metro areas. . .They combined that data with labor market indicators like wage growth, employment growth, and the change in the unemployment rate. The logic is that even if housing prices are rising, that might do a homeowner little long-term financial good if the area the home is in has little wage growth and lousy employment prospects.

ABQ home prices here have actually declined over 5% since the housing market elsewhere began recovering., while they have jumped 30% in the 20 city Case-Shiller Index. If it's any solace our neighbor to the south--El Paso was the 10th worst place to own a home in the last four years. Values there were off over 3%.

If folks have less equity in their homes, they tend to restrain spending. And then there's the idea of selling the house and making a tidy profit to finance retirement. ABQ is not going to mimic the booms of Phoenix or Denver and that's fine but neither do we want to become a no-growth zone like some kind of modern day Appalachia.


After years of unrelenting gloomy news about the city and as we approach the end of this year, an acceptance--if not a defensiveness--seems to be settling in--that ABQ's decades-long bull run is over and not returning.

The educated Millennials are headed out, the lower income strata is growing and increasingly dependent on food stamps, Medicaid, housing subsides and are here to stay. The lower middle and middle classes are now two income households employed in the city's service economy (call centers etc.) and make a go of it. As usual, the upper strata is fine but dwindling in the face of ongoing government cutbacks and as they age.

Looking ahead to 2016 and beyond, ABQ may remain much the same.

Its crime problem will intensify as the pie here remains meager, the chaos in the educational system will get more severe as those who can afford private schools will take advantage of them; there will be a continued mild expansion of low-wage jobs that match the skills of the workforce; health care will also grow as the population here ages and as even more lower income citizens become Medicaid eligible; there could be some influx into the city from rural New Mexico which continues to depopulate; the economic impact of Sandia and Kirtland AFB will have upswings but over the next decade will continue to drift slowly downward; UNM enrollment could be a surprise to the downside, with officials desperately seeking students to keep funding intact; political leadership will remain status quo--whether it be Dem or R--reflecting the distaste for politics among the general public who now leave voting in city elections to the elderly and generally conservative.

ABQ's appeal will remain the same in the new era, even as the economy limits the numbers who will be able to take advantage of it.

And what is that appeal? The city's setting amid natural splendor; the enviable climate; the lack of big city traffic jams; the laid back feel; the offbeat, vibrant arts scene; the unique cuisine and the embrace (for the most part) of cultural diversity.

If you were ranking Albuquerque on possessing a distinct identity it would be near the top of the 350 metro areas in the nation, not near the bottom as it has been on so many lists. In the years ahead that is what will soften the blow of watching a city that once trotted ahead like a young pony on the open range now settling into its home on the pasture.

I'm Joe Monahan reporting to you from Albuquerque.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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