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Taos and Santa Fe are two are the most visited destinations in the U.S. desert Southwest. From artists' colonies to architectural digs, the communities offer education, entertainment, and relaxation, along with celebration of New Mexico Indian culture and artifacts. And there's great snow-skiing, too.

"In the most scenic area of New Mexico, Taos is a popular tourist destination," says Realtor Jim Kimmons ( Home Inspection Inspector Expert Advice ). "With several ski areas, hiking, a national forest, art galleries and more, Taos is the place to visit or live."

Explains Kimmons, "The busy real estate season has arrived in the Taos area. Sales are outpacing the same period last year. There doesn't seem to be a price trend, either down or up. For those unfamiliar, the average time on market for residences in the Taos MLS was more than 225 days last year. For land, last year's average Days on Market was more than 300 days. Those used to faster markets tend to think that lower offers can be made when they see these times...that is not necessarily the case."

Santa Fe is known as a place of spiritual healing, as well as a cultural center for New Mexico.

"Santa Fe is a major destination to live and to visit," says Realtor Steve Rizika . "Our strong sense of history, beautiful surroundings, and quality of life draws people from all over the globe."

"As interest rates remain low," continues Rizika, "more people than ever are enjoying home ownership. Home sales are up across the board, with prices remaining on an upward trend. Across all sectors of the market there is healthy movement, with additional demand fueled by the volatility of the financial markets. That being said, the city is in the midst of a summer drought caused by a low winter snowpack. Santa Fe is being forced to examine its priorities and the hope is for positive change in the way we use and deliver water. This has done nothing to dampen our healthy real estate market, but it is an issue to keep an eye on as the summer rolls on."

Adds Realtor Webb Sherrill , "Sales continue to rise, 7 percent, compared to the first four months of last year in the Santa Fe area as we begin our primary selling season. Sales of $1 million + homes are double last year's in the same period last year. Homes in all price ranges are available. Supply and demand appear close with prices increasing. Santa Fe with its exceptional weather continues to be a choice retirement and second home destination."

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