Home » Real Estate

Click here to view
the full print edition
of Avenues
View Property Transfers


AVENUES PARTNERS:
NH homes for sale



Search MLS

Courtesy of


Type:
Residential
Condominium
Multi Family
Land
Mobile Home
Commercial
Rentals

Towns & cities:
Price:
Low:   $
High:   $
Villages:

Locate open houses

Search By MLS #

Classifieds


 ♦ REAL ESTATE
 ♦ APARTMENTS
 ♦ HOME SERVICES
 ♦ HOUSEWARES

Click to place free online ad for items valued under $500.

Opinion

April 10. 2014 10:52PM

Real Estate Corner: It’s time to increase the transparency for property owners

Imagine you’re the owner of 10 acres of land, and your long-standing plan has been to subdivide that parcel, perhaps providing for a child’s college education or your own retirement. The time comes, and you’re prepared to move forward, when you learn that, without your knowledge, the property has been rezoned, and is no longer able to be subdivided. Perhaps tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in value have been lost.

For most, the purchase of property will be the biggest investment they ever make. Not only can a home’s equity fund education or couple’s retirement, but an investment property could be the income stream a family depends on to pay its bills. So a town’s zoning change, no matter how well intended, can dramatically impact that investment.

Too much is at stake to allow for the possibility of a property owner being blindsided, and yet for too many property owners, the scenario is all too possible under current state law.

The New Hampshire Association of Realtors, with the help of a bipartisan group of state legislators, has introduced a bill designed to help property owners in the state be better notified in the event of pending zoning amendments that could affect their property rights.

As established in 1983, RSA 675:7 currently requires such notification prior to a public hearing to be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality and posted in at least two public places.

Senate Bill 228 would add an element of far more practical communication: a requirement that with certain proposed zoning changes, written notification is mailed to all potentially affected property owners in a district, with an explanation as to what the proposed changes are and the date of the public hearing.

Makes sense, right?

When the Legislature passed the existing requirement in 1983, everyone communicated a little differently. We used pay phones, not cell phones. We read actual newspapers, not tablets or Twitter. We paid our car registration at the town hall, not online. So perhaps in 1983 it may have been reasonable to assume that a property owner could have knowledge of a hearing based on an ad or notice at the town hall, but that is not true today.

How many of us are aware of what is on our town planning committee’s agenda this week? How many of us are perusing the bulletin board of our town office on a weekly basis? Is it reasonable to assume that every property owner should or needs to do this? And if I read my paper online, how would I ever see a notice buried in a Saturday paper?

The consequences of amending current zoning ordinances, while often justified, can be a significant cost to the homeowner, as it might diminish the value of his or her property. Altering a zoning district which may have been in place for decades, without a municipality ensuring that those impacted could have a reasonable opportunity to voice their thoughts, seems wrong.

Realtors understand that some are concerned that the cost would be too much of a burden for a town, but would most property owners gladly pay a dollar or two in order to be assured that they will be made aware of changes to the town rules regarding how they can utilize their own property? We think the answer is certainly yes.

The number one public policy concern we consistently hear at NHAR from our members is with regard to municipal regulations. Recently, the New Hampshire Business and Industry Association identified as part of its Strategic Economic Plan that New Hampshire has the fourth most restrictive local land use regulations in the country. The New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority conducted focus groups of real estate professionals within the last six months, and they also identified land use regulations as a top concern. Keeping up with all the zoning changes is hard enough for professionals, never mind for busy homeowners.

We are not in uncharted territory with this bill. Oregon, for example, has required mailed notification of all zoning changes since 1999 — a ballot initiative which, by the way, passed with 80 percent of the vote. Amendments to zoning ordinances are offered and passed, just as in New Hampshire, except that property owners in Oregon are much more aware of what is happening in their communities.

As Realtors, we have a four-page property disclosure form and a five-page purchase and sales agreement, and many of the items included are mandated by state or federal regulations and state statutes, which help guide the buyer through the purchase process and guarantees openness and transparency in the transaction. It ensures that the property owner has the best chance of being fully informed.

And that is what SB 228 does. It protects a resident from being blindsided, it creates greater openness in our public meetings, and it assures a property owner’s right to protect his or her greatest asset.



.

Lynne Merrill is a broker the Merrill Bartlett Group in Kingston and chair of the New Hampshire Association of Realtors Public Policy Committee, which represents New Hampshire’s 5,000 Realtors.

This information has been provided by the New Hampshire Association of Realtors in conjunction with the New Hampshire Union Leader’s Advertising Department. Readers with questions about the content, or who wish to pose a question for a column, can contact NHAR communications director Dave Cummings at 225-5549 or dave@nhar.com.




Real Estate

Londonderry board rejects workforce housing variances

READER COMMENTS: 0

Following a lengthy public hearing Wednesday evening, the Londonderry Zoning Board of Adjustment unanimously rejected several variances for a 288-apartment work force housing complex.

Executive Council postpones vote on condo docks proposal

READER COMMENTS: 0

The New Hampshire Executive Council on Wednesday postponed a vote on property restrictions that would have allowed a Manchester condominium complex to build docks on the Merrimack River.

Hackett Hill housing project gets final nod from aldermen

READER COMMENTS: 0

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Tuesday gave final approval to redrawing the zoning map to allow the construction of multi-family residential housing on two parcels on Hackett Hill that had been...

Raymond selectmen reverse, place acres in outside hands

READER COMMENTS: 0

Raymond selectmen rescinded a vote to place 145 acres of Flint Hill as a deed restriction and put it in a conservation esement instead.

Conflict arises over docks at Manchester riverfront condos

READER COMMENTS: 0

A conflict raging at a Manchester riverfront condominium complex over docks, eagles and missing paperwork is scheduled to be played out in two public forums this month.

Building height restriction considered for Salem town center

READER COMMENTS: 0

The Planning Board is considering bringing forward an amendment in March that would limit building heights in the town center to three stories or 45 feet.

Blacksmith Russell Pope of Elements of Steel uses a forge to heat steel to about 2000 degrees at his blacksmith shop in Newmarket.

Newmarket blacksmith has forged a career shaping the elementsof steel

READER COMMENTS: 0

Russell Pope was in the Coast Guard when he found his life's calling - and it had nothing to do with the military or the ocean.

Home & Garden

Home & Garden

The Villa Augustina School has stood empty since it closed in June.

Goffstown School Board abandons plans to buy, renovate Villa Augustina

READER COMMENTS: 0

Following a tour of the Villa Augustina School on Mast Road on Saturday, the Goffstown School Board has decided to not pursue purchasing and renovating the former Catholic school to address growing...

The Villa Augustina School has stood empty since it closed in June.

Goffstown School Board tours Villa Augustina School as purchase explored

READER COMMENTS: 0

Members of the Goffstown School Board, School Administrative Unit 19 Superintendent Brian Balke, and town residents toured the closed Villa Augustina School property on Saturday, hoping to get a...

Stayci Fast of Ivy Home & Garden in Windham make a kitchen island holiday display that includes flowering bulbs and spices at a home in Windham.

Professional designers talk about high-end trends in holiday decor

READER COMMENTS: 0

Professional decorators share a glimpse of this year's high-end holiday trends

School district moves ahead on appraisal of Villa Augustina property

READER COMMENTS: 0

The Goffstown School Board continued discussions on Monday night about the possibility of purchasing the former Villa Augustina School campus to address growing space needs in the district.

Fall color in Yellowstone National Park.

Nature photography a shared passion for Nashua couple

READER COMMENTS: 0

A hobby became a passion and a career for the photographers Hudnall

The Planning Board recently OK'd a subdivision of the Rockingham Park property.

Planning board decision will clear path for sale of Rockingham Park parcel

READER COMMENTS: 0

A parcel on the north side of the 170-acre property is under agreement for a sale to local developer and restaurant owner Joseph Faro.

Portsmouth's 1763 Moffatt-Ladd House will be decked out for its first Celebration of Wreaths and Trees this weekend.

Portsmouth events put a period on decorating

READER COMMENTS: 0

Decorations help set the tone for most people's holiday experiences, which serves as the backdrop for two very unique and different events — one brand new, the other well into its fourth decade...

Susan Dromey Heeter's Down to Earth: From free events come great memories

READER COMMENTS: 0

While driving to school with my daughter, we spotted one of those ancient television sets on the side of the road — the kind that worked not only as an entertainment center in the '60s and '70s...

Some gardeners won't be welcome at Salem community farm

READER COMMENTS: 0

Overseeing Salem's community gardens at Hawkins Farm has come with its share of challenges over the past several years.

Salem zoning board says no to 2nd hearing for senior housing development on mausoleum property

READER COMMENTS: 0

There will be no second hearing on a variance that would allow a senior housing development to be built on the property of a Pond Street mausoleum.

Diane Paul's hand-stitched leather work ranges from belts and bags to chaps and sleigh bells.

No machines for North Hampton leather artisan Diane Paul

READER COMMENTS: 0

Diane Paul, 52, is a self-taught leather artist whose repertoire includes everything from sleigh bells to stick horses. She does everything by hand — everything.

Issues halt development of senior housing project in Salem

READER COMMENTS: 0

The Planning Board has granted conditional approval of a 16-unit senior housing project off Pleasant Street.

Subdivision road work in Salem under scrutiny

READER COMMENTS: 0

The issue came up recently when residents of the Deerfield Street subdivision wrote to selectmen asking for help in getting their road completed.