Seven-figure listings booming thanks to views, land, waterfront
By MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader
July 01. 2015 9:48PM
(DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
This Union Street home for sale has five bedrooms and eight baths and sits on more than an acre in Manchester's North End.
Look around your neighborhood.
One in every 26 homes for sale in New Hampshire carries at least a million-dollar price tag.
From Franconia to Chesterfield to Seabrook, the million-dollar club has spread to 97 cities and towns, according to figures the New Hampshire Union Leader requested from New Hampshire Realtors.
Among the nearly 400 offerings:
• An 18-room waterfront home on Chelsari Way in Hampstead for $1.4 million;
• A 15,032-square-foot home on 10.6 waterfront acres in Portsmouth listed at $10.9 million after a recent $2 million price drop;
• A 9,544-square-foot home with five bedrooms, a theater room, pool and spa on 1.65 acres in Bedford with an asking price of $2.5 million.
“If you want to spread it across all towns in New Hampshire, the common theme of anything over a million dollars is the view, a body of water, acreage or square footage,” said Nicholas Shakra, a Bedford Realtor managing the $2.5 million Bedford listing.
And more people are buying high-priced properties.
More million-dollar homes were sold this year between April 1 and June 15 than in any year since 2004, according to Dave Cummings, director of communications for New Hampshire Realtors, a trade association for the state’s real estate industry.
Thirty-eight homes sold during those 10 weeks this year, including four each in Rye and Seabrook, compared to 31 last year and 24 in 2013. Homes on the Seacoast (15) and the Lakes Region (10) dominated this year’s sales, topped by a $4 million sale in New Castle.
Million-dollar-plus homes, however, are out of the reach of most Granite State families.
“It’s certainly less than 5 percent of New Hampshire households can purchase a million-dollar home based on income,” said Dan Smith, director of housing research for the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, which promotes and finances affordable housing. “Most million-dollar home purchasers in New Hampshire, the purchase is not based on their income. It may be based on their assets.”
A person would need about a $280,000 yearly income to finance a million-dollar home over 30 years, putting down 10 percent and borrowing $900,000, said Smith, who believes many banks might require a larger down payment for such homes.
More likely, people will use proceeds from another house sale, retirement funds or other source of funds to purchase a million-dollar property.
“You can’t water ski in front of your stocks and bonds,” said Adam Dow, a Realtor for Keller Williams Lakes and Mountains Realty in Wolfeboro.Cash is king
Several Realtors said cash is king for many of these deals.
“Most people that are buying, these high-price buyers, unlike the ‘80s and ‘90s, where they were leveraging and borrowing the maximum amount, a lot of them are paying cash or putting 50 percent down,” Shakra said.
Meanwhile, about half of New Hampshire households can afford to buy a home priced at $225,000, the finance authority’s estimate for the median price for a single-family residence in 2014, Smith said.
To provide a picture of the market, the New Hampshire Realtors on June 23 segregated the prices for 10,204 single-family residential properties listed for sale.
Of those, 1,223 were listed for at least $500,000; 389 were offered for at least $1 million; 126 for at least $2 million; 57 for at least $3 million; 28 for at least $4 million and 20 for at least $5 million.
Over the next 24 hours, six more homes were listed for at least a million dollars.
Million-dollar-plus homes can sell quickly ... or they can linger for more than a year on the market.
A home on Timberlane Road in Windham spent just five days on the market. It was listed for $1.15 million and sold for $1 million in March.
But a property on Atlantic Avenue in North Hampton listed for $1.285 million stood on the market for 460 days before selling in April for $1.125 million.A water view helps
When it comes to million-dollar homes, a water view isn’t required, but it certainly helps.
Nearly two of every five Granite State homes listed for sale and priced at a million or more can be found in the Lakes Region.
Wolfeboro, home to six lakes, leads that list with 31 such listings.
“We’re a lakefront community, so I’m not surprised at all,” said Linda Ridings, assessing clerk for the town of Wolfeboro. “On the big lake, Lake Winnipesaukee, they tend to be a million and up.”
The state’s most expensive listing, at $49 million, can be found on Hopewell Road in Alton for two homes on 16.56 acres owned by Bob Bahre, former owner of New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.
The homes also are listed separately at $25 million and $24 million. (For this story, the Union Leader counted them as two listings.)
For direct beach access to the Atlantic, expect to pay at least a million in many cases, according to Barbara Dunkle, a Realtor at the Bean Group in Portsmouth.
“A million dollars on the ocean would not have a brand new kitchen,” she said. “I’m talking more like a cottage. A house with an upgraded kitchen in Rye in my guestimation would be $2 million.”
Dunkle said the $10.9 million property in Portsmouth, on Little Harbor Road, includes a dock along the Piscataqua River.
“The folks didn’t buy it for the waterfront. They bought it for the privacy,” Dunkle said.
She has shown the property a couple times and expects the buyer to pay all or nearly all in cash.
“The high end in New Hampshire — it’s not uncommon for them to take three years to sell,” Dunkle said.Buyer expectations
In the Lakes Region, potential buyers often arrive with high hopes and unrealistic expectations.
Unless you spend $4 million or more, “you’re not going to find the perfect property,” Dow said. “Even then, you might have to give up on a boathouse or sandy beach.”
He figures more than half of the sales along Lake Winnipesaukee go to out-of-staters, many looking to avoid jammed Cape Cod roads or considering their New Hampshire home more as a four-season escape.
“A majority of the people in the higher end have the ability to pay cash, but it’s more of a business decision whether to use their money,” Dow said.
“I’m surprised how many people who have kids at home who are buying,” he said. “You’d think it’s all retirees and baby boomers.”
Along Lake Winnipesaukee, people are buying homes that they don’t intend to keep.
“I’ve sold multimillion dollar homes that are going to be torn down or am being told they’re going to be torn down” Dow said.One buyer spent $3.2 million on a lakefront house that won’t last long.
“They’re designing a dream house” to replace it, Dow said.
In Bedford, it’s not the water views affecting the price.
“I’m selling houses in Bedford that are over that ($1 million) just because of the values of this town for land has risen so fast that it is hard to build for less than a million,” Shakra said.
In Bedford, “we’re paying $250,000 for lots, and in order for the builder to make any money, he has to build at least a million dollar house to justify that lot cost,” Shakra said. “They have to start their asking price at $1 million. It’s not a huge house. It’s 4,000 square feet.”firstname.lastname@example.org
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