BUSINESS QUARTERLY: Broadband availability increases real estate attractiveness

A for sale sign on Highland Avenue in Jaffrey advertises a newly constructed home.

A for sale sign on Highland Avenue in Jaffrey advertises a newly constructed home. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

By JESSECA TIMMONS

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript 

Published: 01-23-2024 9:03 AM

Modified: 01-25-2024 9:00 AM


The availability of high-speed internet has become one of the driving factors in attracting new residents to  settle in the Monadnock region, giving some towns a competitive advantage for people who work or attend school remotely. 

“People expect it,” said Heather Peterson of Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty. “If people are coming from out of state or from a big city, they just assume they’ll be able to get high-speed internet. They ask what the options are for cable; they don’t realize there is only one option. We actually have to bring it to their attention that some of the towns in the region don’t have it. If a property doesn’t have broadband, it’s a problem.”

Peterson said people from out of the area are often surprised when towns only have satellite options such as Starlink or Hughesnet.

“There are some otherwise very attractive communities for which this is a factor,” Peterson said. “In Hancock, Comcast runs through the center of town on (Route) 123, but if you’re out on Old Dublin Road or on Nubanusit, your home will not have cable. I have had some deals in other towns in the wider region which did not go through because of lack of reliable internet service.” 

Peterson said some buyers in towns like Hancock or Antrim may be able to build infrastructure to bring broadband to their homes, but burying the conduit is expensive, and the option is only available if the home is near the cable line. 

Rebecca Morse, broker for RE/MAX Town Square in New Ipswich, said towns with lower internet services are generally less desirable, though not entirely off the table to most buyers, unless they have specific work-from-home needs. In particular, it was a bigger issue pre-COVID, whereas in the past few years, towns such as Mason, Rindge and Jaffrey have all rolled out town-wide broadband projects, bringing fiber internet capability to every home in the area.

"Buyers definitely were happier. It opened up more towns as possibilities for some of them," Morse said. "But our market has changed so much over the past few years, with a limited inventory, which has forced people to get creative with what they can and can't live with."

Francestown and Greenfield recently entered into all-town contracts with Fidium, providing broadband to all residents. Hancock has been investigating getting broadband and better cell service for several years.

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“It’s one of the first questions people ask. It’s right at the top of the list , along with schools,” said Alyssum Proctor of Proctor & Greene. “Now that everything is digital, people want internet that supports multiple devices, so they can work, their kids can stream, everyone can be home and online at the same time. It’s been a game-changer for people.”

Brenna Cove, who specializes in southern New Hampshire and the Monadnock region for Century 21 Your Way, said  she has used broadband as a marketing tool with clients.

“It definitely helps when towns get broadband. Many of my clients are relocating from Massachusetts, and they are used to having it. They need the option to work remotely, or their kids will need to be remote sometimes. It’s definitely helped towns like Greenfield, Francestown and Temple.” 

Cove said broadband is particularly important in smaller Monadnock region towns, which lose power frequently due to weather events and heavy tree cover. 

“Broadband actually becomes a safety issue. It stays on when the power goes out; you can use it off a generator. It’s  even more important when people don’t have cell service at their homes, because cell service is also spotty in parts of some towns in the region,” Cove said. 

Cove said that some clients may not be thinking about internet, but then when they can’t get cell service, they start to wonder about internet.

“The towns that have broadband, it really helps to be able to tell people, ‘Don’t worry, it’s not an issue,’” Cove said. “It might not necessarily be a deal-breaker, especially due to the housing shortage in the region, but it definitely helps people to know they don’t have to worry about communications. The towns that don’t have broadband are definitely at a disadvantage as far as people who plan to move here and need internet for work and school.”