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Second homes and the NH real estate crunch | What works

Jay Kuhrt’s vacation condo in Wolfeboro couldn’t hold his growing extended family, so the Connecticut pastor bought a 3,100-square-foot Cape on two acres in Wolfeboro five minutes from Brewster Beach.

He wrote a ‘heartbreaking’ letter to the seller – a blended family with children – who he said made a difference by securing the three-bedroom home for $790,000, which was above the asking price, in april.

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“When it hit the market, I went there and made an offer before my wife even saw it,” said Kuhrt, 67, a retired IT executive who accepted it. five years ago a post of pastor.

Out-of-state residents who still crave a piece of New Hampshire are putting further pressure on record house prices as they buy primary, secondary or investment homes, pushing residents in need mortgages, experts said.

Sales figures show a lower share of homes sold this year to foreigners than in 2021, but the percentage of non-New Hampshire buyers remains above pre-pandemic levels, according to New Hampshire Housing.

Accommodations included a mix of single family homes, condos and townhouses. A similar trend set in in 2021, with the percentage of sales considered second homes down from the previous year but still high in recent pre-pandemic periods, according to statistics requested by the New Hampshire Union. Leader.

Figures that show the intended use of a property only include those purchased with mortgages, with statistics based on data collected by lenders. Cash-only sales were not included, meaning these homes cannot be classified as a primary residence, vacation home, or investment property.

winter port in summer

On Friday, vacationers enjoy the holiday weekend at Winter Harbor in Wolfeboro. Carroll County, which includes Wolfeboro and Moultonoborough on Lake Winnipesaukee as well as Conway and other towns in the Mount Washington Valley, has the highest share of second home sales in the state.

All-cash transactions accounted for 3,966 purchases or 19.5% of all transactions in 2021, according to Heather McCann, director of housing research at New Hampshire Housing. That was more than 2,977 purchases in 2020, which equates to 14.6%. Both, however, were overshadowed by 2018 figures showing 5,525 all-cash purchases, accounting for 24.1% of all sales.

During the pandemic, several real estate agents interviewed said they were working with more cash buyers, who often moved from more expensive states after selling their homes.

Second Home Hot Spots

Ben Frost, deputy executive director and chief legal officer of New Hampshire Housing, said he doesn’t think the pandemic has changed the market.

“It accelerated some pre-existing trends,” Frost said last week. The 2021 numbers “don’t really point in any particular direction.”

“We’ve certainly heard the stories of the influx of buyers from Massachusetts in particular,” Frost said.

The percentage of Massachusetts residents who bought a home in New Hampshire rose from 14.9% in 2019 to 17.8% in 2020 and 19% in 2021 before falling back to 15.8% for the first 4.5 months of 2022.

They include a mix of single family homes, condos and townhouses.

“For the most part, New Hampshire home buyers are from New Hampshire,” Frost said.

After New Hampshire and Massachusetts, California had the most residents buying homes in New Hampshire in the first 4.5 months of 2022, according to New Hampshire Housing.

Maine and Florida round out the top five. Connecticut was seventh. These rankings included cash sales and mortgage sales.

Since late 2020, the state’s longest-serving city clerk has seen many people arrive in Wolfeboro from other states.

“We’ve had an extremely high impact on bringing new people to Wolfeboro from New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey – you name it,” said Patricia Waterman, city clerk for over 10 years. a half-century.

Some people who summered there before make it their permanent home, she said.

The challenges of buyers

Buyers today are faced with record prices and rising interest rates.

“We’ve seen some buyers pushed out of the market because they couldn’t afford it or because they had reduced the amount of the house they wanted to buy,” said Ben Cushing, president-elect of the Realtors of the New Hampshire.

A 30-year fixed mortgage for $380,000 would cost $2,206 a month assuming the current interest rate of 5.7% at Freddie Mac, a company that buys mortgages and repackages them for investors.

That’s $608 more per month than a year ago, when the prevailing interest rate was 2.98%.

“What we’re starting to see are some segments with price reductions,” said Cushing, Upper Valley regional manager for Four Seasons Sotheby’s International Realty in Hannover.

The supply of available homes is another major pressure factor for buyers. Compared to May 2014, the State had 88% fewer homes on the market: barely 1,589 compared to more than 13,000 eight years earlier. And the statewide median price nearly doubled in those eight years.

Restrictive zoning sometimes prevents developers from achieving sufficient unit density to make construction of condominiums and townhouses financially feasible, Frost said. Significantly higher costs for labor and building materials also pushed up house prices.

Investment properties accounted for 6.42% of all homes sold in 2021, more than immediately before or during the pandemic.

The housing market has a huge influence on the state workforce as companies attempt to attract and retain workers.

“If there aren’t things on the market to buy or rent, it’s going to be a lot harder for them to fill those jobs,” Frost said.

He said he has heard of people who “accept job offers but ultimately have to turn them down because they have no place to live”.

Blurring the lines of property use

Carroll County, which includes Conway and Wolfeboro, had the highest percentage of second homes (44.34%) in New Hampshire. Hillsborough County, home to Manchester and Nashua, had the smallest share (1.66%).

Adam Dow said the market was not so clearly segmented.

“You had residential properties and vacation homes. Now it’s mixed,” said Dow, Dow Realty Group CEO at Keller Williams Realty, which covers the coastline to the north of the country.

He considers second homes as investments.

“Many investment properties are above-water properties that were traditionally year-round homes for many residents,” creating more competition and higher prices, Dow said.

The market for renting accommodation for summer or winter has become more competitive during the pandemic, according to Sarah Holland, broker at Sarah Holland & Co. in Plymouth.

“In any normal pre-pandemic year, you could come in and just pay and not compete for a rental,” Holland said. Those looking to rent since the pandemic would “throw out crazy numbers and offer incentives to be the tenant of choice.”

That means some vacationers have chosen to buy second homes rather than rent, Holland said.

A Harvard University report titled “The State of the Nation’s Housing 2022” discusses soaring housing costs nationwide and the root causes.

“Rising sales of second homes and vacation properties have also reduced housing options for full-time homeowners, particularly in rural areas,” the report said.

“Redfin’s Second Home Demand Index indicates second home demand jumped more than 80% in mid-2020 – far outpacing growth in primary home demand – and remained at least 50% above pre-pandemic levels through February 2022,” he said.

The share of second homes sold in New Hampshire fell slightly in 2021 from a year earlier.

“It’s not as much of a story as people think,” Frost said.

winter port in summer

On Friday, vacationers enjoy the holiday weekend at Winter Harbor in Wolfeboro. Carroll County, which includes Wolfeboro and Moultonoborough on Lake Winnipesaukee as well as Conway and other towns in the Mount Washington Valley, has the highest share of second home sales in the state.

Discovering the granite state

During the pandemic, “I’ve just seen throngs of people coming out of the big cities” looking for a home in the country, Cushing said of New Hampshire realtors.

“They were buying up all the properties, and that drove up all the prices,” he said.

Some people unable to take vacations have decided to buy second homes instead, Cushing said.

People who buy second homes are “harming the primary home buyer,” he said.

Kuhrt took the edge off the competition when he learned that the Wolfeboro house was about to hit the market.

“It’s just that the whole place is big enough for my whole family to fit in,” Kuhrt said. “There are four bathrooms. Do you dream of having four bathrooms?

doggie vacation

Family puppies Jack, left, and Toby play in the front yard of Jay and Robin Kuhrt’s second home in Wolfeboro.

Kuhrt, represented by buyer’s agent Martha Trepanier, said ‘the market was crazy’, earning him $80,000 more than he expected when he sold the condo he owned for nearly two decades.

“It actually helped me put together enough funds to buy this house,” said Kuhrt, who hopes to make it his primary residence with his wife, Robin, as early as next year.

The Kuhrts, however, lack one thing that many townspeople have: a boat.

“But I have friends,” Kuhrt said.

What’s Working, a series exploring solutions for New Hampshire’s workforce needs, is sponsored by the New Hampshire Solutions Journalism Lab at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications and is funded by Eversource, Fidelity Investments, the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, the New Hampshire College & University Council, Northeast Delta Dental and the New Hampshire Coalition for Business and Education.

Contact journalist Michael Cousineau at To read the stories in the series, visit

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