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Stuck in the middle with you...

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Posted 05-14-2010 at 10:26 AM by Roy Sanborn

The housing market continues to show some improvement in the Lakes Region with 71 residential home sales in the month of April, 2010 compared to just 50 in April 2009. That’s a strong 43% increase! The average price was also up from $266,598 in April 2009 to $274,203 last month. Once again, over half the homes that sold were under the $200,000 mark. On a rolling 12 month basis ending on April 31, 2010 there were 766 sales at an average sales price of $301,804 compared to 665 sales at an average of $318,187 for the same period ending April 30, 2009. That equates to a 15% increase in sales year to year. Pretty good!

The highest sale award in April goes to the property located at 140 Alpine Park Rd in Moultonborough at $3.8 million. It was the only sale over $1 million but is was a really nice one. The home is a new 8,000 square foot Adirondack Winnipesaukee waterfront on 2.8 acres land with a 288’ white sand beach. This high quality home by Scott Fuller Development has six bedrooms, eight baths, gourmet kitchen, great room, home theater, exercise room, a three car garage, and great sunset views.
Do you remember the 1972 rock classic by Steelers Wheels entitled “Stuck in the Middle With You”? It should be the new theme song for all of the mid-priced home owners (and maybe their agents) that are having a hard time selling their homes. The second verse (for those that need a hint) goes: “Yes, I’m stuck in the middle with you. And I’m wondering what I should do, It’s so hard to keep a smile on your face, Losing control, I’m all over the place, Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right, Here I am, Stuck in the middle with you” (you can designate who are the clowns and the jokers anyway you want). It seems like there always is a lot of focus put on the high end waterfront sales or the first time home buyer market, but what about the stuff stuck in the middle? What’s selling and why?

Well, what sold in the middle in the Lakes Region was mostly more waterfronts or at least water access! In the $200,000-300,000 price group there were eight sales that would be considered primary residences, two water access homes, and four waterfronts (two on Half Moon, one on Locke Lake, and one on Silver). In the $300,000-400,000 price range there were just two primary homes sold, three water access properties, and four waterfronts (two on Winnisquam and two on Winnipesaukee). In the $400,000 to $1 million category there were two water access homes and six waterfronts (two on Winnisquam and four on Winnipesaukee).That means 21 (out of 31) of the mid-priced homes had something to do with floating a boat or getting in the water!

An example of a single family home “in the middle” that did sell in April was a very nice 3,098 square foot, 4 bedroom, 2 bath colonial built in 2004 at 15 Simmons Court in Tilton. It was on the market for $294,000 and sold for $277,000. There also was a 3968 square foot, four bedroom, 4 bath colonial built in 2008 at 397 Bean Hill Road in Belmont. It was listed at $330,000, sold for an even $300,000, and with an assessment of $388,300 it seems like the new owner got a great deal. But it took 634 days to sell so it was stuck in the middle for more than just a little while.

Right now the problem is there are way too few buyers out there. So unless you are somehow able to “just add water”, my advice is to pay close attention to your price and make certain that your potential buyers see your home as a real value or you will be stuck for a while, too. So “If you are trying to make some sense of it all, But see that it makes no sense at all” stayed tuned to this column and I’ll keep an eye on the middle for you over the coming months…

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