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First time’s the charm in the real estate market

Realtors report surge in first-time home buying; low interest rates, growing confidence cited

  • <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Maxine Joselow)
  • <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Maxine Joselow)
  • Anna Schierioth, managing broker of HKS Associates, Inc. in Jaffrey, waits for guests to arrive at a brokers' open house for a property on Union Street in Peterborough.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Maxine Joselow)
  • Denise Whitney, left, a Realtor with Better Homes and Gardens/The Masiello Group in Peterborough, talks with Winter Keeler of Wilton, right, about the housing market at a First-Time Home Buyers Seminar on Wednesday at Whitney’s office.
  • <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Maxine Joselow)

Real estate agents are reporting an upswing in first-time home buyers in the Monadnock region now that the economy is starting to recover.

The housing market saw a major drop in 2008, and has since remained slow. But local real estate agents say the housing market is staging a recovery.

“The trend is showing that the real estate market has bottomed out and is coming up,” said Denise Whitney, a Realtor with Better Homes and Gardens/The Masiello Group in Peterborough, in an interview with the Ledger-Transcript in her office on Wednesday.

Whitney said the uptick in the economy has made people more confident about purchasing homes for the first-time. “I feel like more of our inquiries are from first-time buyers. There’s a much younger group shopping now,” Whitney said.

At a house for sale on Union Street in Peterborough, Anna Schierioth, managing broker of HKS Associates, Inc. in Jaffrey, said she has also noticed an increase in first-time buying in an interview with the Ledger-Transcript on Thursday.

Schierioth said nine of the 16 homes she currently has under agreement were purchased by first-time buyers . Two of the 16 homes were purchased by parents for children who are first-time buyers.

“That statistic is a good snapshot of the market. It shows there are a lot of people buying for the first time,” Schierioth said.

Laura Chapman, a mortgage planner for Regency Mortgage Corporation based in Hooksett , confirmed the trend of first-time buying in an interview with the Ledger-Transcript at the Masiello office in Peterborough on Wednesday.

“We’re seeing a younger generation of buyers. The 25- to 30-year-old range is picking up a lot. I think what’s happening is first-time buyers who were on the fence before are being more decisive,” Chapman said.

With an abundance of first-time buyers entering the market, Whitney and Chapman were inspired to hold a First-Time Home Buyers Seminar at the Masiello office in Peterborough on Wednesday. Four people attended the seminar, where they learned from Whitney and Chapman about navigating the often confusing process of purchasing a home.

Chapman told the Ledger-Transcript before the seminar she thought the current low interest rates were playing a major role in increasing the number of first-time buyers. “Interest rates are phenomenal. They’ve gone up a little bit, but they’re still some of the lowest we’ve ever seen,” Chapman said. Whereas interest rates in the region soared to 6 percent in 2011, they have remained around 4 percent in recent months, she said.

Whitney told the Ledger-Transcript before the seminar that current competitive prices may also be attracting more first-time buyers.

“House prices are low right now. There are more houses out there, so prices have to stay competitive,” Whitney said. “With low prices, there are more buyers out there.”

Guests who attended the seminar said the improvement in the economy had instilled them with more confidence about purchasing their first homes.

Winter Keeler of Wilton, who attended the First-Time Home Buyers Seminar, said the perk in the economy encouraged her to pursue owning a house instead of renting.

Keeler, a social worker and therapeutic horseback instructor, said she looked at houses online over the past two years, but never inquired about the houses because the depressed economy made her anxious about affordability.

“I was nervous about buying a home I couldn’t ultimately afford, especially with what’s happened in the last few years. I’ve had friends who had to foreclose,” Keeler said. “But I’m in a better place now, and I’m more ready to make a purchase.”

Rebecca Allen of Peterborough, a technician at EMD Millipore Corporation in Jaffrey who also attended the seminar, said she was glad she was looking for a condo in the current economy. “I was in college when the economy got that bad, so I was sheltered. Now it seems like things are starting to pick up,” Allen said.

Another seminar participant, Katie LePage of Hollis, also a technician at Millipore, said she and her boyfriend are looking to buy their first house because they are faring well in the current economy.

“My boyfriend and I are thinking about buying a house before marriage. We’ve been saving up,” LePage said. “He said, ‘Do you want the house or the ring first?’ I said the house.”

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