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A strong start for home sales

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The pace of home sales in the Albuquerque metro area accelerated in the first three months of the year to the highest level seen during a first quarter since the housing bubble, according to the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors

The 1,959 detached, single-family homes sold in the first quarter marked an 8.3 percent increase from a year earlier and were the most homes sold in any first quarter since 2007, which is generally considered the last year of the housing bubble.

First-quarter sales were driven higher by a particularly robust March, when the 827 homes that were sold marked the highest sales volume for any month since August 2013, GAAR data shows. Last month was the strongest March for detached, single-family home sales since 2007.

“Unseasonably warm weather, improving consumer confidence at the local level and pent-up demand,” GAAR president Paul Wilson said about reasons for the strong March numbers. “People have been putting off and putting off buying homes for months, even years.”

Noting that pending home sales were up year over year by 16 percent in February and again by 16 percent in March, he said, “We’ll be up very nicely this month (April) as well.”

Detached, single-family home prices in the first quarter edged up from a year earlier: 1.7 percent to $204,581 for the average price and 1.8 percent to $171,050 for median price. Median means half of the homes sold for more and half for less.

The increased pace of home sales had a ripple effect on remodeling activity.

While metro-wide data on remodeling isn’t available, the City of Albuquerque issued 238 building permits for “single-family alterations and additions” in the first quarter, the highest number for any first quarter since 2008.

“Many new homeowners make their home purchase with a plan in mind to remodel their new home to suit their own needs and tastes,” Larry Chavez of DreamStyle Remodeling in Albuquerque.

Citing a presentation last year at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, where he serves on the steering committee, Chavez said new homeowners spend on average $3,130 to fix up their homes in the first two years after the purchase. Average spending goes down that.

Building permits for home repairs and improvements represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to remodeling. A lot of common home improvements either don’t need a permit or the homeowner opts not to get one.