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There was a man from Nantucket...

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Posted 06-17-2011 at 02:06 PM by Roy Sanborn

For the second month In a row, residential home sales in the Lakes Region of NH were down a bit compared to last year’s sales. We have been hitting 65-70 sales in May for the past four years, but last month there were only 58 homes sold at an average price of $275,900. On a rolling twelve month basis ending May 31, 2010, there were 745 sales at an average price of $315,235 compared to 765 sales at an average price of $306,823 for the 12 month period ending May 31, 2010. That’s still not bad (I have to say that). Unfortunately, we can’t blame the lack of sales on the snow anymore, so I guess we’ll have to blame it on high gas prices and the consistently bad news we hear on the television every day. We may be turning the corner, but it sure is a long sweeping one.

My wife and I took a few days off and went down to Nantucket last week. We had never been there and thought it would be a good place to check out. It was nice to have a few days of R&R checking out the shops, beaches, and real estate. Nantucket is more beautiful and amazing than we had ever envisioned. The downtown/port section is steeped in whaling history. Its narrow cobblestone streets are lined with widow’s walk topped ship captain’s mansions, quaint shops, and restaurants. Many of these homes date back to the 1800’s and the pride in ownership really shows throughout the town. They say that little has changed and a sailor off a 19th century whaling vessel would be right at home here…except for maybe all the tourists and taxis. The entire island is considered a historic district with over 800 houses built before the Civil War.

The beauty of the island and the beaches are best seen from a rented car. This 47.8 square mile island has 82 miles of pristine beaches to visit, 25 miles of bicycle paths, and great golfing to enjoy. It’s really a laid back place, like an island should be. What really struck me, though, was the real estate. If you’re looking for a grey shingle style home this is the place to come as that is pretty much the only style home you’ll find. There are lots of little shingle cottages and neighborhoods of grey shingled residential homes. But, mostly, there are huge waterfront or water view homes and estates…everywhere. Seems like a thousand of them, all grey, all shingled. It could get downright confusing on a dark night.

I picked up a local real estate magazine and quickly realized I was in a totally different world compared to the Lakes Region. I kind of knew that going down there and it was reinforced on the ferry ride over. I could smell money from about three miles off shore. We certainly have nice upscale homes and waterfront estates on Winnipesaukee, but this was something a notch or two above. There were very few homes in that real estate book under $1 million. We did check out a couple of cheap foreclosures in the $800,000 range and one looked like it might bring $200,000—it is all about location, location, location. It is also hard to just drive around and check out what’s on the market as real estate For Sale signs are prohibited on the island!

According to Nantucket REALTOR® Brain Sullivan of Sotheby’s, since January 1 there have been 101 closings of real estate on Nantucket (including condos, land, single family, and foreclosures) at an average price of $1.267 million and a median price of $852,500 (remember our residential sales average was $315,235 and the median was $193,000 over the last 12 months). As of mid-May, he noted that “There are 33 properties that have purchase and sale contracts signed with an average price of $2,301,152. The rise in the average price is a sign that the vacation market sales have begun.” According to the real estate website Truila, the average price per square foot for a Nantucket home is a whopping $765. Nantucket’s total real estate value is $17,208,429,905 compared to $10,213,400,613 for all of Belknap County or $12,213,400,613 for Carroll County. Nantucket has the fourth highest property value in Massachusetts behind Boston, Cambridge, and Newton. Currently, Nantucket’s tax rate for residential property is only $3.58 per thousand of assessed value.

So if you haven’t been there, I’d recommend even a day trip to check it out. Just don’t think you’re going to find that inexpensive, run down, grey shingled little cottage anywhere on this island. But I guess “inexpensive” is just relative, isn’t it?

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