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TODD R. HATHORNE: Does city get it on local real estate market?

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Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 12:00 am

I am compelled to address statements made by the mayor and city manager during the Dec. 14 Governing Body meeting, simply because of the sheer audacity of the attempt to reshape the coming election. The mayor questions how many foreclosures are a result of non-owner occupied properties that were purchased as speculative investments. His question later then becomes statements of fact when presented by others. Here is some empirical evidence showing that Rio Rancho does not have a glut of renters. Data shows that Rio Rancho is not a non-owner occupied-caused foreclosure problem. We are below the state average when it comes to non-owner occupied properties (see city-data.com/city/Rio-Rancho-New-Mexico and census.gov/hhes/www/housing/hvs/rates/tab4_msa_05_2011_rvr.xls.

This is the Albuquerque MSA rental vacancy rate. If the mayor claims were true, Rio Rancho would have a huge impact on the rental vacancy rate. That is not the trend. In fact, it's the exact opposite. The fact of the matter is that one in every 160 properties is in some stage of foreclosure in Rio Rancho. (see realtytrac.com/trendcenter/nm/sandoval-county-trend.html).

Just move your cursor over the city. The number of 600 foreclosures used by the city manager does not square up with the information from Realty Trac. The city manager, although he dislikes being challenged, needs to explain where he is getting his information.

I would point to a few more sobering facts. Home ownership as a whole is slipping dramatically in New Mexico. Over the last three quarters, the percentage of homeowners has fallen from 72.9 in 2007 to 66.3 in the third quarter 2011.

We were the worst state in the union in terms of decreasing homeownership over the course of 2011, falling from 72.8 down to 66.3 in just nine months. We cannot ignore the facts from above showing Sandoval County and Rio Rancho in particular are the worst county and city in the state for foreclosures. We have city leadership who want to blame banks.

I offer this final piece. A 2006 development survey by Sandoval County for the purposes of preparing for their efforts on a feasibility study for a desalinization plant shows 51,000 units in various stages of approval through the City of Rio Rancho. This information is verifiable in the Development Services Department in the county.

Why would this council and this administration wish to ignore their complicit action?

Let's give the city leadership a bit of room because they do not want to be the guys sounding the alarm bells. I get it.

We should all get it. If they come out with this information, they become the guys who are "trash-talking" our city. They do not want to be seen in that role. What we must do is respectfully request some serious dialogue with them on real solutions.

(By Todd R. Hathorne of L&G Mortgage Inc.)

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