Andy Peterson: Business Quarterly – Market remains tight, but homes are coming

By ANDY PETERSON

For the Ledger-Transcript

Published: 04-25-2023 12:41 PM

The radiance of new greenery emerges from the mist in the morning valleys, the forest’s winter snowpack recedes and the rivers rush, replenishing life into our beautiful corner of creation.

So too we cannot help but feel the vibrant embrace of spring and look forward to the warmth of summer coming soon to the villages and towns surrounding Grand Monadnock mountain.

It is an exciting and complex time for our rural communities' progress as well, with towns grappling with the impacts of increasing costs for goods and services, with changing demographics fueled by cultural shifts and technological change and with an extended housing shortage crunch.

Local housing availability and buyers’ needs are top of mind for many these days, and I am glad to offer my perspective on this much-discussed issue.

Those of us who work full-time and practice in real estate as a career have become accustomed of late to search for inventory by county rather than by community. We necessarily seek out properties that suit specific buyer needs in a wider region due to the limited number of properties for sale in a fast-moving marketplace statewide.

Many have predicted a return to a more-normal market locally by sometime in 2023, but so far, the normal buildup of the inventory of listed properties in the spring season has not materialized.

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At Four Seasons Sotheby’s, we benefit from the many wonderful personal relationships formed over the decades of working with families on their housing needs, including the years as The Petersons, Inc., reaching back over three generations since our founding in 1948.

We have many quality properties just now listing or soon coming to market to respond to a variety of interests. In addition, new construction projects are on the way, some of which are planned to be available for occupancy as soon as later this summer or early fall, including the new condominiums at Trails Edge Common and single-family new construction at the former Woodman’s site on Concord Street in Peterborough.

In addition, the Stone Barn development and some exciting affordable and workforce housing projects are achieving approvals before Peterborough zoning authorities and should be available by 2024.

Statistically, the national numbers on housing needs are startling. A recent Wall Street Journal article by Josh Zumbrun relates that according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the United States has a shortage of 7.3 million units. Realtor.com says 6.5 million, Fannie Mae 4.4 million, Up for Growth 3.8 million and John Burns Research and Consulting says there is a shortage of 1.7 million.

The numbers vary based on perspective, the number of rental units included in the shortage numbers and the variance factor applied for rehab of existing units. However, any way you slice it, there is a real housing crunch nationwide in 2023.

The local numbers in our quiet corner of the state bear this out, as well. The median sales price in Cheshire County has risen steadily since 2018 from $167,200 to $260,000. In Hillsborough County, the median price has risen from $259,000 to $404,000 over the same five-year period. The number of real estate sales in local communities has generally decreased slightly since 2020, due to fewer properties being available for sale.

For example, In Antrim there were 86 sales in 2020 and 80 in 2022, in Peterborough 172 in 2020 and 163 in 2022, in Hancock 50 in 2020 and 40 in 2022 and in Jaffrey 138 in 2020 and 133 last year.

The MLS as of this writing shows 27 condominiums and homes currently available in the nine-town ConVal Regional School District and 15 for sale in the Jaffrey-Rindge district. Although many families were waiting to list after the Easter holiday and spring cleaning was complete, historically, this remains an incredibly tight market.

One factor holding back owners who would like to sell from listing their homes is the fear that they will not be able to find suitable replacement housing, as most homebuyers already own a property. This is a common situation which experienced brokers well understand and where we can be of great help.

Consultation with a real estate professional with intimate knowledge of local markets (and of properties becoming available) can guide families through such challenges to positive outcomes.

So, as we drink in the beauty of our region in this season, with a shared gratitude for being able to reside in such a special part of the world, we find the opportunities for positive developments for surrounding towns and the people who live in them are very much at hand. The spring of 2023 should be a dynamic and exciting time, with much to be discovered and enjoyed.

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

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