New Mexico is among the largest and least populous states in the nation. It has miles and miles of open land. Like its neighbor, Arizona, much of that land is in the hands of tribes and the state and federal governments. Generally, this open land is used for ranching. The non-tribal land is available for lease or sometime purchase, relatively cheaply, but as of yet there are no takers. This is mostly because, outside of Albuquerque, Santa Fe or Los Alamos, New Mexico doesn't have a large enough population to support large scale commercial real estate development.


Albuquerque is a mid-sized city, experiencing strong growth. Much of the development in the Albuquerque area is new development, since there is nothing but open, inexpensive land surrounding the city. Like many western cities, the most noticeable characteristic of the real estate market is its ability to sprawl. Albuquerque residents and planners hope to counteract the trend toward sprawl by injecting life into the downtown area. Large scale retail developments are being planned as are civic activities designed to draw foot traffic to the area. The residential market in New Mexico is strong. Though inventory is up, houses still tend to sell within 30 days on the market.

North of Albuquerque is Los Alamos, home to the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Almost all of the roughly 15,000 residents are employed by the lab. As such, Los Alamos tends to have higher levels of education and income than the rest of the state. Housing prices are higher there, but commercial real estate is about the same cost as it is in other parts of the state. Similar to Los Alamos is Rio Rancho, the fourth most populous city in New Mexico and one of the fastest growing. The major employer in Rio Rancho is Intel, so it, too, has a slightly higher income level than normal for New Mexico. Given that both areas are single-employer towns, both are more suited to retail and residential development than industrial or office development.

The state's capital, Santa Fe, has garnered a reputation as an artists' colony, so much of the development there is gallery and retail space. Commercial property can be pricey in the Santa Fe area because of its cachet, and those looking for similar types of investments may consider investing in Taos, which is also beginning to develop a reputation as an artists colony, apart from the ski resort. Unlike Santa Fe, Taos is economically depressed area. While a speculator is likely to see some appreciation in property, the area is not likely to ever appreciate to significant enough levels to make the wait worthwhile.

Las Cruces, at just under a 100,000 people, is the second most populous city in New Mexico. The city is growing, but this is more through annexation of outlying master-planned retirement communities than to any immigration into the city. Las Cruces lacks a true business district as it was razed in a redevelopment project in the late 1970s. There is a downtown historic and shopping district, however, the area is experiencing some volatility. What it doesn't appear to be experiencing is growth. Though its not a college town, Las Cruces is home to New Mexico State University, and there are residential investment opportunities in the campus area.