Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it.

Living in the Lakes Region of NH can be rewarding as there is so much to do.  There are activities all year long, winter, spring, summer and fall. We live here, we know the area well and can help you find your perfect place.

Please reach out and Contact Us if you have any questions.  We'd love to talk with you!

July 1, 2021

The Higher Cost of Building

 

Over the past several years we've seen building prices climb higher and higher due to limited supply and increased demand, but a new issue is pushing prices up even further: the skyrocketing price of  building materials. So, what's behind these increased prices, and more importantly, when can we expect some relief?

We are all painfully aware that the pandemic triggered widespread supply chain issues, and building materials have been no exception. Supplies of steel, aggregate and cement have dried up, but the trend might be most noticeable when it comes to lumber.

Nearly every aspect of home construction necessitates lumber – framing, trim, doors, flooring, windows, railings, and cabinets. The pandemic shut down lumber mills across the country, and supply chains were slowed by a shortage of truck drivers. Low interest rates and a lack of existing inventory increased demand for new construction, and all that new construction increased demand for lumber. It’s a perfect storm of demand outpacing supply. 

According to Markets Insider, lumber prices rose by over 400% between May of 2020 and May of 2021, with the price per thousand board feet going from $327 to $1,645 during that time span. That figure has corrected since May, but, as of this writing, prices are still substantially higher than this time last year.

The rise in lumber prices has added almost $36,000 to the price of an average new single-family home, and nearly $13,000 to that of a new multi-family home.

Building material supply shortages, coupled with increased prices for land, means buyers will continue to see high prices for new builds for at least the foreseeable future.

Last year, home price inflation reached 11.4%, but experts predict a slowdown to 8.1% through 2021. By 2023, price growth is expected to slow to 4%. To put it another way, the surge in home prices is expected to slow, but it’s going to take a few years as supply chains and workforces return to pre-pandemic levels of productivity.

 

 

June 1, 2021

Moving Tips for Happy Trails

 

Summer is the busiest season for relocating, with the beginning and end of the months hitting peak moving activity. In the Lakes and Mountains regions of New Hampshire, this can mean moving within state, those moving from out of state, and those making the annual trip back to or from a second home. Summer can also be the most expensive time to move, given the heightened demand.  We've gathered some moving and packing tips and hints to help with the big day. Let's get packing!

If your budget allows, (and especially if moving to or from out of state) consider hiring a moving company to deal with larger moves. Do some research first and ask family and friends for referrals. Truck availability can lead to increased costs during the summer. Weight of your household goods, as well as distance, are also a factors in determining cost. 

Moving containers or pods may be a less costly alternative to a moving company and a great option if you are able to do the packing and placing of goods and furniture in the container.

If moving locally and you have friends and family willing to help, renting a van or truck may be a good option. As the saying goes, you know a friend is a friend if they will help you move!

To make the packing process and move go smoothly create a checklist of to do items several weeks to months prior to moving. Include notifying utilities, service providers, post office, insurance providers and others such as Medicare and Social Security on this list!

Ready to get packing?

  • First and foremost-declutter!  A move is the perfect time to rid yourself of excess clutter, paper, out of date clothing and unwanted items. Use the old adage of toss, sell, donate or keep. Make sure, if possible, that furniture that you decide to keep will fit in your new space.
  • If time allows, do a little every day. One closet or one room at a time will keep the task from being too daunting.
  • Use sturdy boxes of the right size for what you are packing. Check with family, friends and online for free moving supplies. Often folks that have just moved are happy to give away packing materials and good quality moving boxes to avoid taking them to a recycling center.
  • Books should go in smaller boxes, lighter items in bigger boxes, and keep the weight to what is manageable, especially if moving yourself. 
  • Resist the urge to overstuff a box. Again, keep it to a weight that works.
  • Place heavier items at the bottom of the box and don't stint on the wrapping of fragile items. Use available items such as linens and towels as padding.
  • Roll clothing rather than folding to save space. Use available containers, such as laundry baskets and suitcases instead of boxes.
  • LABEL or COLOR CODE the boxes! If your move is under a time crunch though, just get packing and figure it out at the other end.
  • Take photos of furniture that will need to be reassembled, or complicated wiring for electronics to aid in reassembly.

While there can be stressful moments to any move, there is also anticipation of a new home, or return to a much loved place, that makes it all worthwhile. Happy trails!

 

April 30, 2021

PMI 101 (Private Mortgage Insurance)

 

When a lender looks at a loan application, their main question is "what risk do I take on by issuing this loan?" Credit checks, bank statements, employment verification – all the documentation required when getting approved for a loan is in service of assessing what the odds are that the loan will go into default. This is why a down payment is such a crucial part of obtaining a home loan. When a borrower has a substantial down payment (20 to 30% or more), the lender's exposure is lessened in the event of a default.

This 20-30% figure used to be required, yet clearly this kept a lot of people from realizing the benefits of homeownership, especially first time buyers. That is until 1957, when Max H. Karl, a real estate attorney, founded Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation and invented the modern form of private mortgage insurance.

PMI is designed to address the hefty down payment hurdle. Instead of coming to the table with 20% or more for a down payment, a private mortgage insurance policy allows consumers to buy and finance a home without a large down payment. With PMI, the borrower pays a small percentage of the total loan amount (0.3 - 1.5%/year) in addition to their mortgage and insurance payments. As an example, a $200,000 loan with a PMI rate of 1% will come out to $167 dollars extra a month for a borrower. It's not nothing, but for many it's a manageable trade off.

Yet sometimes PMI can get a bad rap, as something to be avoided at all costs. Until the end of the 90's this attitude was understandable – homeowners had limited resources to cancel PMI and were often stuck with it for the life of their loan. That changed with the Homeowners Protection Act of 1998. It required automatic termination of PMI when the loan balance reaches 78% of the original value through natural amortization. Borrowers can often drop their PMI even before reaching that 78% figure – once a borrower reaches 20% equity in their home, they can request a cancellation of PMI. As home prices continue to rise, borrowers build up equity in their homes faster, meaning they can often drop PMI payments earlier than they think.

If you're curious about buying a home for the first time, or you're wondering how the value of your home has changed over time, give us a call. We have up-to-date market information to help you make decisions with confidence.

March 31, 2021

Spring Maintenance Checklist

 

It's been a long winter and we're ready for Spring! If your thoughts are turning to a little spring cleaning and outdoor maintenance to grab some fresh air and spring sunshine we've got some tips for you! Taking advantage of the warmer weather and getting the tasks done now, will free up more time for summer fun.

  • Check the basement for moisture and if you have a sump pump make sure it's working properly in anticipation of April showers.
  • Check and change your HVAC filters.
  • If you have air-conditioning, make sure the exterior condenser is free from debris and have the system serviced.
  • Vacuum out air ducts and clean the dryer vent of any lint. Many chimney sweeps offer this service if you need assistance.
  • Inspect and tune up lawn equipment such as the mower and weedwhacker and get ready to tackle that yard cleanup.
  • Pressure wash patios, decks and outdoor furniture. And maybe the siding too!
  • Check gutters and downspouts and clean any debris to ensure they are doing the job properly.
  • Inspect exterior steps, decks and railings for any rot that may have occurred from snow build up and exposure.
  • And of course, if feeling especially ambitious, clean windows to better enjoy the spring flowers and green grass!

A little preventive maintenance goes a long way to protecting your investment and adding to the enjoyment of your home.

March 2, 2021

When Buying Land

 

 

6 Things to Consider When Thinking of Buying Land

  • Financing- Financing vacant land is different from buying a home.  Often a larger down payment is required to secure a loan and there may be more hoops to jump through. If the land is not surveyed, the lender may require that be done to provide financing. 
  • Zoning- Zoning ordinances vary from town to town in New Hampshire, with different districts within a town having different ordinances, such as a village district or an historic district. It will be important to familiarize yourself with the zoning ordinances in the towns in which you are interested in eventually building. Within a town and a district you might also have association regulations such as size and style of home.
  • Easements- Once you've chosen a town and neighborhood, you may be looking at a specific piece of land. It will be important to research the easements, deed restrictions and covenants that run with that land. Is the land in current use (a tax designation that has a penalty for change in use) or are there conservation easements? Is there a ROW for neighboring property owners to pass over the land or utility easements that allow use of the land to others in specific ways? 
  • Water - Is this piece of land suitable for building? If there is no public water and waste system you will need to know if the land can support the size of septic you will need for the number of bedrooms you are planning in the home. To determine this, the buyer often pays for a perk test to be done if the seller does not have one available. You will also want to determine if there will be enough water to support your needs. If water is provided by a district or an association, there will be fees associated with the water use that you will want to be aware of.
  • Suitability- Is the land suitable for the use intended?  Are there wetlands that will limit usable land and thus determine the size of your home? Does it have the exposure you want for those solar panels? Will you have the view you desire if you cut down some of the trees, and are you able to do so legally (if waterfront this is especially important to consider). You will need to know if the house you are dreaming of can actually be built on the land you are considering, or if you may need to alter your plans. 
  • Finding a builder- Builders are in high demand in the Lakes and Mountains regions. Be aware that purchasing the land is the first step. Finding a builder and getting the build scheduled may take more time than you anticipated. 

These are just a few of points to be aware of when considering a land purchase, so that building that dream home won't become a nightmare.

Jan. 27, 2021

Fix Now, Pay Later

                    

 

Do you have some renovations to do before your home is ready to sell? You can fix it up with nothing to pay up front, thanks to the RealVitalize program available exclusively through Coldwell Banker. RealVitalize allows you to make necessary repairs and improvements to prep your home for sale. The program pays the upfront costs and the homeowner pays those costs back at closing. There are no hidden fees, charges or markups. The results are remarkable, with homes enrolled in the program selling more than 25% faster compared to other homes on the market. You can use RealVitalize to help with:

  • Painting
  • Room renovations
  • Staging
  • Flooring and Carpentry
  • Electrical  and plumbing
  • Cleaning and Handyman Services
  • Landscaping and Curb Appeal
  • And much more!

Sellers using the program can maximize their selling price, with no pre-approval and no minimum or maximum selling price to enroll, and no minimum project cost. All approved home improvements will be performed by a HomeAdvisor Service Professional. To learn more about this exciting, innovative and exclusive program, contact us today!

 

 

 

Dec. 28, 2020

To Refi or Not to Refi

 

 

Deciding whether to refinance an existing mortgage typically means running some numbers. You can do this on your own, but it’s helpful to get the professional assistance of a loan officer. It mostly boils down to how much you’ll save each month, but there are other considerations.

First, the change in rate isn’t everything. Old school rules say that it’s a good idea to refinance if current market rates are 1% or 2% lower than what you currently have, but the rate is only a part of it. The other component is the amount being financed. For larger loan amounts, a reduction of only 0.5% might make sense. For smaller loan amounts, 2% may not be enough.

Instead, calculate the monthly savings and then divide that amount into the closing costs associated with the mortgage. The result is how many months it will take to ‘recover’ the closing costs in the form of monthly savings. Pay less attention to the actual rate but instead how long it will take to get your closing costs back.

Take a loan amount of $300,000 over 30 years with a rate of 4.50%. The principal and interest payment works out to $1,520 per month. If current market rates are at 3.5%, the new payment would be $1,347 for a savings of $173 per month. If closing costs were $3,000, then it would take just over 17 months to recover the associated fees. Not bad. If the loan amount were $100,000 under the same scenario, the monthly savings would be $57 and recovered in 52 months, or more than four years. Probably not a good idea in that situation.

There are other considerations outside of month-to-month savings. Let’s say you’re less concerned about lowering your monthly payments, and you’re more interested in paying off your house faster. In this scenario, it may make sense to refinance at an even lower interest rate on a 15-year mortgage. You’ll pay more per month, but you can potentially save tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

If you’re wondering whether a refi makes sense for you, reach out!  We’ll be happy to answer any questions and can refer you to a mortgage professional when you’re ready to crunch some numbers.  

Nov. 27, 2020

8 Reasons to List During the Holiday Season

Homeowners often think spring and summer are the best times to list a property, but selling your home during the holiday season may make a lot of sense. Here are 8 reasons why.

1. There is less competition during the holiday season. The current hot market has pushed up demand, so buyers continue to look.

2. Buyers looking during the winter tend to be well qualified and very serious in their search.

3. With less competition, prices generally rise. Homes sold during the holidays tend to sell for more, and with less days on market.

4.Your home can really shine during the holidays. Fires in the fireplace, seasonal scents of spice and balsam, play to buyers senses and memories. The holidays create an atmosphere that cannot be duplicated in warmer months.*

5. Buyers will understand more restricted showing schedules.

6. Buyers have more time to look with vacation days and out of town and seasonal visitors abound during the holidays.

7. End of year tax breaks may move buyers to close quickly.

8. It may be possible to sell now and delay the closing until spring, giving you time to find a new home when there is more for you to choose from.

*It is also important to remember a few essential tips. While a cozy atmosphere can help a sale, don't overdo the decorations. Staging your home to create that warm seasonal appeal to buyers help create nostalgic and emotional connections to the holidays, but you want to make sure the great features of your home still stand out. Buyers still need to be able to move comfortable through your home. Be thoughtful in the placement of holiday décor.

 

Oct. 21, 2020

7 Tips For Home Buyers

Buying a home is likely the largest purchase you will ever make. Whether you are a first time or a seasoned homebuyer, there are important factors to consider when purchasing a home. We've compiled a list of helpful tips to keep your homebuying journey as smooth as possible.

        1. Save, Save, Save

If this is your first home you will need to have savings for a down payment. Even if going through a program that allows for a 3% down payment the costs can add up. For example a 3% down payment on a $250,000 home would be $7,500. Seasoned home buyers may be using the proceeds from a home sale or a refinance to purchase, but for both first timers and others there will also be additional closing costs. For example, in NH there is a real estate transfer tax split between buyer and seller. On a $250,000 home the buyer's portion of the tax would be $1,875.

        2. Decide on a Budget

Calculate a price range that you are most comfortable with and stick to it.

        3. Check your credit

Credit scores affect whether a buyer will qualify for a mortgage as well as  what  interest rates will be offered. Check your credit score, pay bills promptly, pay down debt and don't close out any credit cards. There are programs available to help potential home buyers strengthen their credit. 

         4. Get Pre-Approved

A Pre-Approval will help you understand your monthly mortgage payment, as well as real estate tax implications. The tax rates in the towns vary greatly and can impact how much of a home you can afford. Your pre-approval will also allow you to consider the payment within your overall monthly living expenses. Once you are looking at homes, having a pre-approval positions you well to make an offer.  Also, many sellers want their property shown only to buyers who are pre-approved, so get this done as soon as possible.

         5. Research Mortgage Companies

Comparison shop and take a look at overall fees as well as interest rates. Be sure to consider smaller companies and local banks in your search. Local banks understand the local market and may be able to offer specialized assistance not available through larger companies.

          6. Find a Knowledgeable, Experienced Realtor (Team! )

Realtors help buyers navigate the process of purchasing property. This can be a lengthy and sometimes emotional process and having a real estate professional to assist you can make all the difference in your real estate journey.

          7. Don't Make Any Sudden Moves

In your finances that is! Any changes to your income or additions to your debt can delay or harm your mortgage application.

  •  Don't apply for a new credit card or other loan(such as car loan)
  •  Don't close any accounts
  •  Don't change jobs or quit your current job until the home purchase is finalized

Buying a home is an exciting adventure, whether it is your first home, a second home or your forever home. The NH Fine Properties Team will be with you every step of the way!

Sept. 22, 2020

12 Fall Maintenance Tips

 

 

 

 

 

While you are picking out the perfect pumpkin and putting up the fall wreaths to dress your home in warm colors to match the foliage, it's important to also think about keeping your home's systems running smoothly all winter long. We're here to help with our fall checklist of tips. Aside from maintaining your you home to keep you safe and warm all winter, it's important to know that most homeowner's insurance policies do not cover damage resulting form lack of maintenance. So, protect your investment and your peace of mind by following some basic winter preparation tips.

1. Clean your home's gutters, removing all leaves and debris. When left untended water and or ice can build up and cause interior flooding and exterior rot. Replace if necessary.

2. Drain all exterior water hoses and pipes and shut off exterior valves to prevent water from freezing in pipes. Disconnect the hoses and store until spring.

3. Inspect your roof for any damage or missing shingles and pay close attention to flashing around skylights and chimneys. Have a professional make any repairs needed.

4. Have your wood burning fireplace chimney(s) cleaned and inspected prior to building that first toasty fire.

5. Service any winter outdoor equipment; you'll want that snow blower in tip top shape.

6. Have the furnace/boiler cleaned and serviced.

7. If you have a freestanding generator have it serviced.

8. Inspect around your windows and doors for any gaps, leaks or cracks and apply caulk where needed.

9. Remove unused gas from mowers and other equipment and store properly until spring.

10. Bring outdoor furniture inside to prolong its use.

11. Cover and/or store outdoor "toys"; boats, kayaks etc.

12. CHANGE BATTERIES IN SMOKE AND CARBON MONOXIDE  DETECTORS. 

Following this basic checklist will help you rest easy and stay cozy all winter long.