Business Quarterly: Andy Peterson – Region will continue to prosper

Published: 01-24-2023 9:00 AM

As the winter landscape graces our region and we march forward into 2023, many will pause and wonder, “What will the New Year bring?”

As real estate professionals, we work daily to realize buyers’ and sellers' dreams and visions. This can result in a unique perspective that gives us not only a window into the past and present, but also offers us a preview of what is likely to come. 

We are emerging from a period of rapid change and extreme swings in public sentiment following the pandemic lockdowns and many major shifts in how we live, work and interrelate. The exodus from urban centers, fueled and supported by the enhanced capabilities to perform remote work, led to a net population increase in the Granite State last year of over 10,000 new residents. Much of the available inventory of dwellings was sold out, and due to many factors, properties available for sale remain at historically low levels.

The resulting housing crunch has fueled interest in building, which seems to match with the interest of many current buyers favoring newly constructed residences. We also have local projects well underway to address affordable housing needs, some of which include plans to effectively repurpose vacant office and commercial buildings.  

Some of the better conventional wisdom of what to expect in the 2023 economy was captured in a recent article by business commentator Christopher Thompson, who authors the syndicated column “Closing the Deal”.

His predictions are that the housing marking will make an adjustment, career opportunities will be plentiful, remote work is here to stay, mandates will never fly again and people who leave New Hampshire will return (and New Hampshire will continue to grow). 

Over 100 years ago in the election of 1920, Warren G. Harding ascended to the presidency with over 60 percent of the vote based on a promise of “...a return to normalcy.” The word “normalcy,” which had not previously existed in the English language, captured the imagination of the public as our nation embarked on the Roaring ’20s. Today, despite the recent history of rapid and tumultuous change, one senses an inexorable movement toward a more-normal market in 2023. 

First, consider interest rates, which have rapidly risen to levels not seen for several years. However, they are now back at the average percentage level paid on mortgage loans since World War II which, like the PH of distilled water, is seven. We are also seeing interest rates rising on savings accounts, which will temper the inclination to pursue more-speculative investments and stabilize balance sheets. 

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A recent study of current real estate practitioners concluded that 91 percent of those currently active in the business had never experienced a market other than the white-hot sales climate of recent times. As we enter a new year, agents with greater experience with varying conditions and a long-term commitment to the business as a full-time career will be of premium value. 

Locally, with reference to Thompson’s predictions, the following trends are apparent:  -- The anticipated adjustment in the housing market due to higher interest rates has been moderated by the historically low inventory. Just last week in our region, two lower-priced homes being sold “as is” in Sharon and Greenville attracted 10 and 20 offers, respectively, within days on the market, and a median-priced home offered by our firm in Bennington had 10 offers streaming above $400,000 resulting from its initial open house.

I am selling a home in Jaffrey this month in the higher hundreds for significantly more than the asking price, and other higher- end properties are also generating favorable sales in this frosty season. The future will depend on the increase in inventory available in the active spring listing season, but early indications in the Monadnock region point to the recent increase in regional property values may well be sustained. 

-- Career opportunities locally remain strong, particularly for those with training and desired capabilities. In the coming year, we see greater appreciation by employers for those who demonstrate staying power and personal commitment.  

-- Many employers will wish to draw employees back to the office, but will find a hybrid approach is nevertheless required for employee retention. 

-- COVID protocols will join with other health concerns as important but diminished as a primary focus. 

-- Our state remains the shining star of the Northeast due to a greater degree of locally based governance and old-fashioned common-sense management. We will grow however at a moderate rate, as the great migration nationally has headed to Southern climes. 

Futurecasting is an enterprise fraught with peril. As former British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan famously observed, “Events, dear boy, events” can easily make the wise foolish. However, the view from Four Seasons Sotheby’s International Realty is that the health of our economy remains strong and that our region will continue to prosper in the coming year. 

Andy Peterson is a CCIM Broker Associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty in Peterborough.