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Demand (and prices) for condos on the rise

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 12. 2018 9:33AM
Manuel Ramirez installs a ceiling for a covered porch at the Villas at North Tuscan Village in Salem on Monday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Empty-nesters looking to downsize their homes are helping to fuel a demand for condominiums — and to boost prices.

The median sales price for a condo in New Hampshire hit a monthly record high of $215,000 in May, according to fresh figures from the New Hampshire Realtors.

“People are not necessarily moving to Florida; they like it here,” Seacoast Board of Realtors Chief Statistician John Rice said Monday.

Rachel Eames, immediate past president of the New Hampshire Realtors, said older residents are looking to sell homes that are too big to manage.

“You have the more mature audience that’s looking to downsize and ... certainly looking for condos,” Eames said.

Since Jan. 1, the median price for a condo grew at a faster rater (9.1 percent) than for a single-family home (6.1 percent) compared to a year earlier.

The state also saw a 3.9 percent rise in closed condo deals during that same timeframe compared to a year earlier. Single-family closed sales, meanwhile, dropped 0.6 percent compared to the same 2017 timeframe.

New Hampshire, which boasts one of the oldest populations in the nation, saw a record monthly high in the median price for single-family homes in April, at $284,000, which May nearly matched at $283,000.

May’s condo record beat April’s record of $212,500.

“We have data that suggest about 85 percent of the people in New Hampshire want to stay in their communities as they age,” said Fahey, state director for AARP, which represents people 50 and older. “We’re not seeing necessarily a flight out of state.”

Fahey said there “certainly seems to be a robust market” for 55-and-older condominium retirement communities, and some anecdotal evidence suggests people are moving into cities that have become more walkable, such as Concord.

In Salem, real estate agent Karen Fosman is helping market The Villas at North Tuscan Village, part of the redevelopment of the former Rockingham Park racetrack site.

Interest has come from the “young, empty nesters, people who just want to be over the border from Mass­achusetts into New Hampshire,” she said.

The villas start at $439,900 for two bedrooms and 2,000 square feet. There is a $358.07 monthly condo fee.

Fosman, who works for Coco, Early & Associates, pointed out that many people are interested in the walkability of the multi-use development, including a planned five-story medical office building, which will include a Catholic Medical Center facility.

“I think that’s probably the number one seller: the urban lifestyle,” Fosman said.

Rockingham County, which includes Portsmouth, posted the highest median price for condos in May, at $262,450 — 16.2 percent higher than a year earlier, according to the Realtors group.

Rice, however, has compiled real estate figures for a 13-community area in the Seacoast, including Portsmouth and along the coast.

May didn’t set a record for condos in his index, but it was the third time in five months that the median price hit at least $300,000.

“I think you’re going to see condo prices trend upward,” Rice said.

“I don’t see them skyrocketing out there because of interest rates” expected to rise this year, Rice said.

Rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit a U.S. weekly average of 4.54 percent as of June 7, according to Freddie Mac, a company that guarantees mortgages by buying and repackaging them to investors.

That rate hit 4.66 percent as of May 24, their highest level since May 5, 2011.

Rice said this year was the first time that the median price in his 13-community sample hit $500,000 for single-family homes: $515,000 in January and $510,000 in May, for the first time in at least a decade.

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