New Mexico Mortgage Rates

Living in New Mexico

With arresting desert landscape and plenty of history, New Mexico regularly pulls in visitors to sites like Santa Fe and Carlsbad Cavern National Park. More recently, the state has garnered attention for the technology corridor that runs through Albuquerque and for attracting Hollywood production companies. Two million residents now call the state home, with close to half residing in the Albuquerque area.

New Mexico’s economy perked up at the end of 2018, and the state’s housing market is generally on an upswing. In the first quarter of this year, the median price for a house was $200,000, a modest 2.5% increase from the same time last year, according to the New Mexico Association of Realtors.

If you’re thinking of buying in New Mexico, be ready for a market now tilting in favor of sellers.

In expensive Santa Fe, the median home price recently was $529,000, a 20% jump from the same time last year. Homes are more reasonable in the Albuquerque area, but in March, the median price for a freestanding home was $213,000, up 7.6%. New listings were up in Albuquerque, too. However, the overall number of homes for sale was down 27.3% and sellers were able to get more than 98% of home list prices, according to the Greater Albuquerque Association of REALTORS.

In Albuquerque, the housing market may get a significant boost if Netflix carries forward with a plan to buy a local production studio. Last October, the streaming entertainment services company said it planned to bring $1 billion in production business to the area over 10 years and create up to 1,000 jobs a year.

The rules and costs of buying a home in New Mexico

Before buying a home in New Mexico — or any other high-demand state — you’ll need to know the regulations and rules that govern that state’s housing market.

Home seller and buyer laws

New Mexico requires anyone selling a home to disclose to a prospective buyer so-called “material” defects that might affect a home’s value or livability. State law also requires sellers to provide prospective buyers with an estimate on how much they may need to pay in property taxes before a purchase offer is accepted. To do this, sellers (or their brokers) are first required to get tax information from a local county assessor’s office, using the home’s list price as a basis for the estimate.

As a potential homeowner in New Mexico, it’s important to know what might happen if your mortgage goes into default and a lender proceeds to foreclose and sell your home. In New Mexico, lenders have the right to take you to court to recover any balance that might be due if the proceeds from the home’s sale are less than the remaining mortgage amount.

A divorce can cast a pall over a couple’s dream home. For that reason, it’s also important to know that New Mexico — unlike most states — is a community property state. This means all assets and debts acquired during a marriage need to be split evenly, 50/50. Assets acquired separately before the marriage are allowed to stay with that spouse.

New Mexico is also an escrow state. This means an attorney does not need to be present at a home closing. Instead, buyers and sellers can use an escrow agent, closing agent or a representative from a title company.

Taxes

Unlike most states, New Mexico does not charge a transfer tax when real estate property changes hands.

According to Tax-Rates.org, New Mexico has one of the lowest property tax rates in the country, with the rate now averaging 0.55% of a home’s assessed value. As a result, residents now pay a median amount of $880 per year, based on a home value of $160,900. If you live in Albuquerque, expect to pay considerably more; Bernalillo County has a 0.81% property tax rate, the highest in the state, and the tax averages $1,530 per year.

As a homeowner in New Mexico, you may be able to qualify for an exemption to help lower the amount of property taxes you pay each year. The exemption is good for up to $2,000 of the taxable value of your home; to qualify, you’ll need to be a New Mexico resident who is also the head of your particular household. In this case, the exemption applies not just to someone who is the head of a family, but also to single individuals and anyone who pays property taxes through some type of homeowner or condominium association. New Mexico also offers a tax exemption to permanently disabled veterans or their surviving spouses.

Conforming loan limits

In every county in New Mexico, the 2019 conforming loan limit for a single-family home is now $$484,350, the same for most of the U.S. Higher limits apply for both multi-family homes, and in areas where housing costs are more expensive.

If you’re buying a home, it’s key to know the conforming loan limit in your county because it represents the maximum amount you may be able to borrow for the conforming loans insured by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These two government-sponsored entities work to make the mortgage market more stable and affordable for consumers. The conforming loan your lender offers you will generally offer a better interest rate than a so-called jumbo loan for a higher amount.

Programs for homebuyers in New Mexico

In New Mexico, homebuyers can tap into a variety of programs for help finding — and paying — for a more affordable home.

The New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority (MFA), the state’s designated housing agency, offers programs targeted toward low- to moderate-income residents, either first-time buyers or those who have owned before.

Read on to learn more about MFA programs. You may also be interested in the down payment help that Homewise, a New Mexico nonprofit, offers through its access to the national NeighborhoodLIFT program.

FIRSTHome

The FIRSTHome program provides affordable mortgages to low- to moderate-income, first-time buyers. Qualified borrowers who need help paying for a down payment can pair a FirstHome mortgage with a second mortgage, either a FIRSTDown or a HOMENow loan (see details below).

Who qualifies:

  • Borrowers with a minimum 620 credit score
  • Buyers must complete a pre-purchase counseling course
  • Buyers must contribute $500 from personal funds
  • Borrowers must work with an FHA, USDA, VA, or HFA Preferred conventional mortgage

Learn More

FIRSTDown

This program provides up to $8,000 in down payment and closing cost help to first-time buyers in the form of a fixed-rate, second mortgage.

Who qualifies:

  • Buyers must complete a pre-purchase counseling course
  • Borrowers must meet income limits, set by county and household size

Learn more

HOMENow

HOMENow loans provide down payment and closing cost assistance to first-time buyers who have lower incomes. The loan amount is either equal to 8% of the sale price of the home, or $8,000, whichever amount is less.

Who qualifies:

  • First-time buyers or those who have not owned and occupied a home in three years
  • Buyers must use the loan together with a FirstHome mortgage
  • Borrower income must be 80% or less of the area median income
  • Buyers must contribute $500 of their own funds
  • Requires a minimum credit score of 620

Learn more

NEXTHome

Both first-time buyers and previous buyers may qualify for this program to receive a combination loan that includes a primary mortgage and a second loan to help pay down payment and closing costs. The second loan is equal to 3% of the first mortgage loan amount.

Who qualifies:

  • Borrowers must earn less than $91,000 annually
  • Sale price of the home must not exceed $340,000
  • Borrowers must contribute $500 from their own funds
  • Requires a credit score of 620 or more

Learn more

Rate shopping tips

Your mortgage will most likely be one of the largest purchases of your life, so it’s important to make time to comparison shop. Follow these tips to get started:

Contact at least three lenders on the same day.

Mortgage rates change daily, so contact at least three lenders on the same day for the most accurate comparison. Also consider expanding your lender search by contacting smaller, local lenders as well as comparing loans online.

Give each lender the same information.

To compare loans as fairly as possible, be sure to give each lender the exact same information, and get comprehensive early on. At first, your lender will need basic formation like the loan amount, how much down payment you intend to pay, the loan length and type of mortgage (e.g., fixed-rate versus adjustable-rate). However, this is the time to pull together personal information, too like proof of income, tax records, as well as bank, credit and retirement account statements. Also, know your credit score early on.

Add up all lender fees to confirm the total cost of your mortgage.

Buying a home means more than just a mortgage with interest costs. Lenders usually charge fees for processing and closing a home, and it’s important to add the fees to the total cost of a new mortgage. Not every lender will charge the exact same fees, but check your loan estimate for items like an appraisal fee, a credit report fee, underwriting fees, notary fees and discount points — the amount you might owe in exchange for a more affordable interest rate.

Know when to lock in the rate.

Ask you lender about possibly locking in your interest rate, and see if you can do it when you apply for your mortgage. A locked-in rate — usually good for 30 to 60 days — will help if market interest rates rise before you actually close on your new home. Your lender should also be able to give you some perspective on which way rates are headed.

The information in this article is accurate as of the date of publishing.