The impact of broadband access on the housing market

  • Rebeccah Creamer and her husband built a new home in Jaffrey and discovered the internet access there was not up to speed. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/13/2019 4:27:42 PM

Rebeccah and Jake Creamer found their dream property in Jaffrey. They built a new home. And found their internet options lacking.

“Internet is one of those things you just expect to have,” Rebeccah Creamer said in a recent interview at the couple’s new home. “And there’s just very limited options.”

The couple moved to Jaffrey from Rindge, and they’re well aware of the challenges rural areas have with accessing high-speed internet, Jake Creamer said. But when researching the area, they thought the access to cable internet was more widespread than it actually was. By the time they were ready to subscribe to an internet service, they discovered their options were essentially limited to satellite providers.

The main perk of satellite internet is its availability – it can reach the most rural of areas if a home can mount a satellite dish accessing the clear sky. But it’s typically both more expensive and not as fast as the internet provided by either a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) or fiber-optic lines, and can be interrupted by bad weather or clouds.

It’s put a crimp on the joy of their new home.

“I’m in love with the land, that’s why we chose this property,” Jake Creamer said. “But if I knew then what I know now, I think we would have at least looked into other options before pulling the trigger.”

That priority on high-speed internet isn’t unusual for those in the market for a new home.

Matt Despres, a realtor with Despres and Associates, a Jaffrey real estate office, said access to high-speed internet is an issue across the Monadnock Region, but said access in rural Jaffrey is particularly egregious.

“Jaffrey is probably the worst for internet service,” Despres said. “There’s infrastructure downtown, but it doesn’t seem you have to get very far into the outskirts of Jaffrey before you lose those speeds.”

And internet speed is important to homebuyers.

“It’s the first thing they ask,” Despres said.

In fact, he said, when there’s a home he’s marketing, one of the first things he does is look at the internet access and available speeds because it’s such a common question.

In fact, a home’s access to high-speed internet can actually impact its value.

A study by the Fiber to the Home (FTTH) Council Americas showed that access to broadband increased home value by up to 3.1 percent. For the average U.S. home, that’s about $5,437 – equivalent to adding a half bath or fireplace in terms of adding value.

And those that don’t come up to snuff often linger on the market.

“I do have a number of people I deal with every year that exclude homes because it’s a must-have that they have high-speed internet. People overlook those homes,” Despres said.

People move into the state and region for its rural charms and access to outdoor recreation, but particularly if they’re moving in from out-of-state or from a more urban area, he said, they expect to still have access to the same level of service they previously enjoyed.

“They’re shocked,” Despres said, of his out-of-state buyers who discover a lack of broadband service.

And it’s become increasingly important. Despres and Associates started in 1976, prior to the internet being a consideration, so Despres has seen the demand for better access grow along with the technology. While it’s been a decade or more since internet speeds have become a standard question, Despres said that within the last five years, buyers are increasingly interested in not just access, but the best access available.

“Even with DSL, there are people who say, ‘Through the phone line? Forget it,’” Despres said.

The Creamers said they, like many people, increasingly rely on the internet. They built a home with several amenities, including installing a Google Nest system, which allows homeowners to digitally monitor and adjust a number of home functions, such as the thermostat.

Rebeccah Creamer, who works as a quality engineer for a Massachusetts company, also has a side job as a consultant for Rodan+Fields, a skincare line, which requires her to have access to the internet.

The Creamers said with only limited satellite options, they fear paying a premium price for service that’s subpar to what they had in their previous home.

“We understand where we decided to build a home, and that there are challenges that come with that,” Jake Creamer said. “But the whole Monadnock Region is so behind the times compared to the rest of the world. Internet is just something people expect now.”

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.

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