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Lake Winnipesaukee's second-home market said to be on upswing


By PAULA TRACY New Hampshire Union Leader   Published Jul 25, 2011

LACONIA " The market for shorefront homes on Lake Winnipesaukee has improved in the past two years.

Russ Thibeault of Applied Economics Research in Laconia, studies real estate market trends, and he said there is room to feel optimistic about the second-home market.

There are, he said, 154 lakefront properties for sale now, and 104 properties were sold between July 1, 2010, and July 1.

"These sales are averaging $866,000. If you go back two years to 2009 and 2010, July to July, the average was $820,000,'' he said.

The average cost of homes listed on Lake Winnipesaukee is $950,000, but Thibeault notes the list includes island properties, which cost less and skew the market.

There is, he estimates, 18 months worth of inventory available, which isn't bad these days.

The website Trulia  which evaluates average house listing prices by county, shows both Belknap and Carroll counties have the highest average sale price in the state, above $450,000. The lowest end of the market, with average prices at $175,000 and lower, is in Coos County.

Chip Maxfield of Maxfield Real Estate in Wolfeboro said he sees market improvement, but notes there are few buyers at the top end of the market.

Sellers are not jumping at low offers and in many cases are waiting for the market to improve, Maxfield said.

A quick review of the entire Big Lake inventory shows a few properties listed for more than $10 million, a lot of properties in the middle range of $2 million to $3 million and some "fixer-uppers" in the $200,000 market.

One seller in Gilford hopes to woo "the most discerning buyer" for $7,299,000. The house has six bedrooms and 11,000 square feet of living space. The parcel covers an acre and a half, including 270 feet of sandy beach, and there is a U-shaped dock.

For $2.6 million, a buyer can get 13 acres of Farm Island property in Tuftonboro and a 1,300-square-foot cottage with no utilities.

A two-bedroom home on the western shore of Blackey's Cove in Moultonborough, with a dock and 3,000 square feet, lists for $1,595,000, while a cottage with 150 feet of waterfront and 1.6 acres near The Boards in Moultonborough is going for just under $1 million.

There is a 500-square-foot cottage on the Big Lake in Alton available for $189,000.

When the market was at its peak " about 2005 " there were 121 sales with a median price of $870,000, Thibeault said.

"It's not a disaster," he said of the current market. "People on the lake hang on. They have a substantial amount of equity in most cases, and they can wait. The sellers have the wherewithal to ride this out."

The buyers out there are well-qualified, and many don't need to apply for a mortgage.

"They are not influenced by the tightening credit standards," Thibeault said.

They are seeing values and average price sales going up. The market for second homes is "showing some signs of improvement" and is a bright spot in an overall real estate market.

The average house on the market in New Hampshire is selling for $202,000, this month.

"The year-round housing market is stable now, but prices are 20 to 25 percent below what they were at the peak in 2005, 2006," he said.

Above article taken from the Manchester NH Union Leader.

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