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Local Real Estate market remains sketchy

December 08, 2010
The local real estate market remains sketchy with conflicting signs of success and concern. The longer-term view shows signs that the market has stabilized and even improved, while some short-term data point to a possibly rocky road to recovery.

The statistics provided by the New Hampshire Realtors Association for the immediate southern Coös and northern Grafton counties shows that the number of sales for the first nine months of 2010 have increased slightly over the previous year, median prices have jumped by 12 percent and the days that a property sits on the market have decreased. A closer look at the price picture is more troubling, the average year-to-date sale price went from $175,000 in July to $138,900 in September.

"The market is loaded with listings said Gerald Winn, of Century 21 in Littleton, it is "quite a ways from a balanced market." Peabody and Smith's Andy Smith agrees, "We're bouncing around the bottom. Buyers are a very cautious."

Mr. Smith pointed out that foreclosed and distressed properties are a statistical drag on the market, but when they are segregated out there are bright spots. Most buyers, he said, are not willing to accept the risks associated with a bank-owned fixer-upper, which often have no guarantees or many cases no information about the property's condition. "Well kept, well maintained homes that people are buying for their… (own) house and not as a flipper or an investment, those prices have stabilized and are heading up."

The low priced housing stock has caused land sales to dwindle, said Dotte Scott, of Dotte Scott Real Estate in Lancaster. The existing housing stock is so inexpensive that it hardly makes sense to build. Construction costs have remained pretty consistent.

The poor market has overshadowed a trend that is here to stay, said Mr. Winn. Over the past few years a whole host of government and banking regulations including—lead paint removal, owner financing, obtaining property insurance and rotating appraisers from outside the area – have been instituted. "The market will improve," he said, "but we'll still have all of these property related restrictions." Realtors will need to move away from strict marketing and more toward being a "guardian of the transaction."

Video highlights of this story and additional real estate statistics are available at www.WhiteMtNews.com

Year to date (Jan. 1-Sept. 30)

Unit Sales

County YTD-2009 YTD-2010 % CHANGE

Coos 245 228 ‐6.9%

Grafton 499 557 11.6%

LOCAL 183 193 5.0 %

Statewide 7,780 8,016 3.0%

Median Sale Price

County YTD 2009 YTD 2010 % change

Coos $70,000 $84,750 21.1%

Grafton $171,000 $172 500 0.9%

LOCAL $119,500 $138,900 16 %

Statewide $214,000 $217,000 1.4%

Average Days on the Market (to sell)

County YTD-2009 YTD-2010 % change

Coos 167 204 22

Grafton 153 138 -10

LOCAL 166 149 -10

Statewide 116 114 2

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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