Pros and Cons of Buying Land in New Mexico

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Pros and Cons of Buying Land in New Mexico

Bart Waldon

New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment, offers beautiful and diverse landscapes ranging from high desert plains to forested mountains. With its rich history and culture, affordable prices, and plenty of recreational activities, New Mexico has become an increasingly popular destination for people looking to buy land or relocate. However, there are several factors to consider before purchasing land in New Mexico. This article will outline some of the major pros and cons to help you determine if buying land in New Mexico is the right decision for you.

Overview of New Mexico

New Mexico became the 47th state in 1912, and today has a population of around 2.1 million residents. The state borders Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. New Mexico has a semiarid to arid climate, with plenty of sun and little humidity or rainfall. Summers are hot while winters are generally mild, although mountainous areas can get cold with snow.

The landscape ranges from rugged mountains and forests to wide open plains, rivers and desert. There are lots of outdoor recreational activities in New Mexico like hiking, fishing, skiing, golfing and more. Major industries include oil and gas, agriculture, government/military, technology and tourism.

Pros of Buying Land in New Mexico

There are many benefits to buying land in New Mexico, which is why it has seen rising popularity for people looking to relocate, buy vacation property or purchase land as an investment.

Affordable Prices

Compared to many other states, New Mexico offers very reasonably priced land across rural and metro areas. Land is cheaper here for several reasons like large amounts of open land, low demand in some regions, and land not being limited by geographical barriers like oceans. For example, an acre of land may go for $500-$2,000 in rural New Mexico while costing many times more in states like California or Colorado.

Recreational Opportunities

With diverse landscapes ranging from mountains and forests to deserts and plains, New Mexico provides endless outdoor recreation on or around your land. Hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, skiing, horseback riding, biking and off-roading are extremely popular. National and state parks also attract millions of visitors yearly. So, if you want a recreational or vacation property, the possibilities are great here.

Lower Taxes

New Mexico has lower property taxes compared to most other states, so owning land here means reduced carrying costs. Property taxes vary across counties but may be as low as 0.35% of assessed home value. There is also a cap on how much your assessed property value can increase each year.

Plenty of Open Space

Since New Mexico is one of the most sparsely populated states, there is a whole lot of wide open land cheaply available, especially in rural areas. This makes it easier to buy large acreages. The state has around 27 million acres of public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service and state agencies. So, you can likely find affordable, scenic land with mountains or forests around you.

Sunny Climate

New Mexico enjoys abundant sunshine, with cities like Albuquerque averaging over 300 days of sun per year. So, if you like sunny weather and outdoor living, the climate here is tough to beat. Winters also tend to be milder than many other states, so if you want to avoid bitterly cold winters and heavy snow, New Mexico is a good option.

Slower Pace of Life

Moving from a big, fast-paced city? The easygoing lifestyle in New Mexico may be welcomed. Outside the few larger cities, many areas have a relaxed pace and friendly small town vibe. So, the lifestyle shift may be ideal for certain buyers wanting to escape urban chaos.

Cons of Buying Land in New Mexico

However, there are also downsides when it comes to owning property in some areas of New Mexico. Consider these cons before deciding:

Limited Infrastructure/Services

In very rural areas, infrastructure like paved roads, high speed internet, cell coverage, utilities access and essential services may be limited or nonexistent. So, development costs to build on remote, off-grid land can be high. Make sure to research what is accessible on or near land you are considering.

Variable Healthcare Access

While New Mexico’s biggest cities have plenty of healthcare options, rural areas often lack doctors, specialists and hospitals nearby. So, review proximity to medical care based on your location and needs. Travel times for care can be long from remote properties.

Higher Elevation Considerations

If looking at mountain or plateau locations, higher elevations mean colder winter temps and greater snowfall in New Mexico. Snow removal and driveway access can be costly and challenging. Consider aviation risks if building near the tops of plateaus. Higher elevation also means greater fire risk - review wildfire history in the area.

Fewer Jobs/Economic Opportunities

New Mexico generally has weaker economic and wages compared to other states. So, job prospects may be low if planning to work locally, especially in rural areas. Review employment demographics and major regional employers. Also factor in that lower wages mean less disposable income circulating through local businesses.

Water Access Issues

Water rights in New Mexico can be complex, uncertain or restricted in some regions facing shortages. Ensure the land has clean water access for residential/agricultural needs before purchasing based on location. Plan for costs to drill wells or build water infrastructure as needed.

Cultural Adjustments

New Mexico has a unique multicultural heritage, landscape and mix of urban and rural lifestyles. Moving here can mean big cultural changes from other parts of the country - especially very rural regions. Be prepared for adjustments in pace, mentality and amenities depending on your relocation spot.

Long Distances

While New Mexico may initially look small on a map, traveling across the state involves long distances due to the landscape. It’s over 500 miles from border to border. So remote properties can mean extensive drives for errands, travel or airport access. Factor in time, costs and feasibility.

Buying Land Process in New Mexico

If you decide New Mexico has the right positives for your plans after weighing the pros and cons, what is the process to purchase land?

Find the Right Property

Identify key criteria like location, acreage, budget, access to utilities/services, intended use (residential, recreational, agricultural, etc). Search online listings and explore different counties and terrain to find ideal properties meeting your needs. Enlist a knowledgeable real estate agent to assist your search.

Research Permits Required

Determine if the land requires any kinds of permits or meets zoning requirements for your intended purpose before purchasing. Especially investigate this if you want to develop, build residential structures, install infrastructure, drill wells or use for certain commercial purposes down the road. Get permitting needs sorted out early.

Visit In Person

Make time for an extended visit to tour potential properties and surrounding areas in person. Get boots on the ground to investigate access, infrastructure, development costs, local economy/resources, etc. Meet neighbors for insights on regional lifestyles.

Secure Financing

Whether financing through a mortgage or paying cash, get funding secured before making an offer. Confirm lending criteria or availability for vacant land loans. Explore land financing options through different banks and lenders.

Make an Offer

Once you decide on the right property after thorough research, submit an official purchase offer through your real estate agent, including earnest money deposit. Negotiate price and terms with the seller as needed until an agreement is reached.

Complete Due Diligence

After an accepted offer, you enter the due diligence period to validate everything about the property before finalizing purchase. This includes appraisal, title search, surveys, inspections, validating permits/zoning and more. Also create plans for development, access, utilities, etc.

Close on the Land

Finally, sign closing docs and pay remainder of purchase price to officially buy the land! Record deed with county clerk. Now you can move forward with land plans as the new legal owner.

Final Thoughts

Buying land in New Mexico has many advantages thanks to beautiful scenery, abundant recreational opportunities, a sunny climate and affordable prices across much of the state. However, carefully weigh the downsides like limited rural infrastructure, long distances, cultural adjustments or variable access to jobs/services/water depending on region and property location.

If the positives outweigh drawbacks for your needs after thorough comparison shopping, New Mexico offers great land ownership potential. Especially for vacation homes, recreational properties or retirement relocation. Just budget for development costs and research all legal/zoning requirements upfront if building or drilling wells. Partnering with a knowledgeable real estate agent can streamline finding the perfect parcel of affordable land to fulfill your New Mexico dreams!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the average land prices per acre in New Mexico?

Land prices can vary greatly across New Mexico, but on average tend to range from around $500-$2,000 per acre for vacant rural land. In more populated metro areas, prices may be $10,000 per acre or higher. Highly desirable recreation areas see higher prices as well.

Does New Mexico tax land that is not currently developed?

Yes, all land in New Mexico is subject to property taxes each year based on its assessed value, whether vacant or developed. Tax rates average around 1% but vary by county. There are tax benefits for leaving land vacant for agriculture.

How much down payment is needed to buy land in New Mexico?

For a land-only mortgage, you’ll generally need around 20-25% down payment at minimum. Land loans require higher down payments than home loans. If buying property cash, the full purchase price is due at closing.

Do I need to be a New Mexico resident to buy land there?

No, there are no residency requirements to buy and own land in New Mexico. Out-of-state buyers purchase New Mexico land frequently for investment, vacation homes or future retirement relocation. You don’t need to live there first.

Is it difficult for an individual to buy large acreages?

Not necessarily – one of the perks of New Mexico is plenty of wide open rural land, so larger 100+ acre parcels are common. As an individual you can buy large acreage just as easily as smaller lots as long as it meets your budget. Partnering with an agent knowledgeable about larger land transactions helps ensure the process goes smoothly.

About The Author

Bart Waldon

Bart, co-founder of Land Boss with wife Dallas Waldon, boasts over half a decade in real estate. With 100+ successful land transactions nationwide, his expertise and hands-on approach solidify Land Boss as a leading player in land investment.


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