The 2019 sellers’ market expected to continue strong into 2020, local experts say

  • A real estate sign outside property for sale in Greenfield. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/13/2020 2:23:40 PM
Modified: 1/13/2020 2:22:54 PM

By all accounts, 2019 was a banner year for real estate in the Monadnock Region.

According to numbers supplied by the Contoocook Valley Board of Realtors, 785 residential, single family homes, condos and mobile homes were sold for a total $215,247,583. The highest number of properties sold in our coverage area was in Peterborough with 134, followed by Rindge (123), New Ipswich (88), Jaffrey (87) and Wilton (72). The only town that didn’t see double-digit transactions was Sharon (7).

“We had a record breaking year,” said Matt Cabana, an associate broker with Bean Group in Peterborough. “For my agency, my agents and on my own.”

The only thing that kept it from being an even better year was the number of properties hitting the market.

“What held it back was a lack of housing,” Cabana said. “And that’s going to be a continued problem going forward. We need more housing.”

For years after the housing crash in 2008, the transaction market was slow and properties weren’t selling very quickly.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a good market of a bad market, things are going to sell,” Cabana said. “It’s just a matter of at what price and how long is it going to take.”

But that is no longer the case.

“If it’s priced right and it’s clean, it goes immediately, less than 30 days and many times sooner,” Cabana said. “If you’re on the market for 30 days, there’s an issue with price, condition or location.”

Ken Moller, owner of The Mollers in Hancock, said he only has two properties in his portfolio and one is under contract and the other was about to be at the end of last week.

“Anything under $350,000 is going quickly,” Moller said. “There’s a strong up push from buyers.”

Marc Tieger, president of Tieger Realty Inc. in Jaffrey, agreed that 2019 was a big year for his agency.

“Absolutely best year we’ve had in many years,” Tieger said.

He said the market started to trend up in the third quarter of 2018 and it hasn’t slowed down since. And with more people looking to purchase homes, it has created a larger competition for listings.

“You have a number of multiple offer situations,” Tieger said.

The key Tieger said is having a long list of available properties for potential clients to choose from.

“There’s a lot of competition out there,” he said. “But if you have the inventory, you can sell it. We’re selling everything we can get.”

Joan Lemire, owner of Joan Lemire Real Estate in Wilton, said it was a great year in terms of sales, but currently doesn’t have much in her portfolio. She expects that to change come March and April.

“Hopefully in the spring there will be more people looking to sell,” Lemire said.

It’s a good problem to have Lemire said, with properties selling quickly due to the demand. She said she is curious to see how it being an election year might change things.

Tieger added that interest rates have stayed low, which entices more people to think about buying.

While the inventory doesn’t match the number of people looking to buy, Tieger is optimistic the market will stay at its current pace. Purely because the demand is there.

“I don’t have any reason to think 2020 won’t be a continuation of 2019,” he said. “There was a lot more demand than there was supply.”

Moller sees the market as continuing on a healthy trajectory, but it will be tricky with less properties to deal with.

“We definitely need more workforce housing,” Moller said. “There’s definitely a shortage and it’s driving prices up.”

Through the first 10 days of 2020, nine properties have been sold with Jaffrey leading the way (4), followed by Rindge (3) and Peterborough (2), according to numbers supplied by the Contoocook Valley Board of Realtors.

While it used to be that things slowed down after the fall and picked up in the spring, that is no longer the case.

“Real estate is a 12 month a year business,” Tieger said. “It’s no longer a question of waiting till spring anymore.”

“I’ve seen it trending that way the last five to seven years, the spring market is coming earlier and earlier,” Cabana said.

The Petersons Inc. planned their merger with Four Seasons Sotheby’s for January because it is historically a slower month, but on New Year’s Day alone associate broker Heather Peterson said she got three calls for listings.

With the limited supply comes competition, leading to prices favoring the sellers.

“I think prices are going to continue to go up and that’s the basic economy of supply and demand,” Cabana said.

Lemire said that a lot of her clients are looking for single family homes up to $250,000, while Moller said there’s been a return to a time like the 1970s where he sees more retirees looking for homes.

Cabana said all the factors are there for continued growth – way of life, schools, proximity to the ocean, Boston and the White Mountains and natural resources.

“The quality of life we have out here is second to none,” Cabana said.

Except one key piece that has been a topic of discussion for many year: lack of housing.

“That one is a concern for me and a real problem,” Cabana said.

He pointed to less people selling and new construction happening at a slow pace as contributing factors to the discrepancy in supply and demand.

“The cost to build a house today is expensive. Cost of land, cost of materials is up and up,” Cabana said.

Moller has also seen a decrease in construction of new single family homes.

“Land is not selling as well,” Moller said. “And single family homes, where builders would put up a spec house, that’s not happening.”

And Moller has seen it change the landscape for renting.

“When supply gets low, people start looking at the rental market and it puts a lot of pressure on that,” Moller said.

If things continue like they’re expected to, those listing their properties are at an advantage.

“It’s been a sellers’ market,” Tieger said.

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