Home buyers in Strafford County, NH, have some hope despite high interest rates


High interest rates are pushing many people out of the market, but other factors are fading, brokers say

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As home loan interest rates continue to escalate, a total of 111 single-family homes were sold across Strafford County in October, according to a monthly report from the New Hampshire Association of Realtors.

Farmington, a city of about 6,700 people, had both the lowest-selling and highest-selling house in the county last month, reported Karen Mairs, president of the Strafford County Real Estate Committee.

The cheapest house sold was a three-bedroom, one-bathroom residence at 60 Central Street, which sold for $147,500.

The most expensive was a two-bedroom, three-bathroom home at 11 Galahad Place on Baxter Lake, which closed for just under $1.27 million. The three-story lakefront residence has 10 rooms, some of which can be used as bedrooms, a lounge, a stone fireplace, a patio, and a patio. It’s “filled with lake views from almost every room, and designed to take full advantage of the flat, sandy beach right outside your door,” according to a listing for the home.

“What makes this home so unique is that it sits on a beautiful, peaceful, well-maintained lake and has wonderfully updated amenities inside,” said Charielle Hallowell of Keller Williams Realty, the real estate agent who worked on the home Sale. “It was renovated by a previous owner around 2015 and they added features like an expansive children’s bunk room, an additional kitchen/dining area, a TV room and central air conditioning.

“In my opinion, any lakefront property will always be desirable, not just in Strafford County but in New Hampshire in general. There are several lakes in Strafford County, and in the last six months there have only been six $1 million sales, the majority of which are waterfront homes.”

Mairs said October offered homebuyers a wide range of asking prices for single-family homes in Strafford County, although inflated interest rates are driving some potential buyers out of the market and inventories remain low. However, she believes that despite high mortgage rates, the situation is evolving and the seemingly never-ending cycle of headlines about the seller-favoring housing market is changing.

“It’s a buyer’s market. It was a seller’s market for what felt like an eternity,” she said.

As a result, Mairs said, some buyers are bidding for $25,000 to $30,000 below the asking price of a home, a clear reversal of recent market trends with above-list prices. Additionally, the New Hampshire Association of Realtors found that homes in Strafford County are staying on the market longer, on average, than they were in October 2021.

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Real estate data shows that the average home price in Strafford County is still nearly $400,000

Last month, homes in Strafford County spent an average of exactly three weeks on the market, up 23.5% from a year ago.

“Now sometimes as a buyer you can go in and offer less,” Mairs said. “Now you can take a break and order a home inspection. You couldn’t do that before.”

The median selling price of a home in Strafford County in October was $395,000, a slight decrease from the median selling price of $396,000 in September, but a 12.9% jump from October last year.

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According to the New Hampshire Association of Realtors report, the statewide median selling price of a single-family home last month was $426,000. The number was boosted in large part by the October median retail price in Rockingham County, which was $600,000, a 20% increase from October 2021.

At the end of last month, Strafford County home sales totaled $49 million, down 10.3% from a year ago, and there are 106 pending sales. In comparison, Rockingham County had sales volume of $177 million last month, had 255 total sales and 238 outstanding sales at the end of the month.

Statewide, 1,290 homes were sold in October for a total of $706 million, with 1,243 sales pending by the end of the month.

Interest rates remain high

Bankrate, a New York City-based consumer financial services company, reported Wednesday that the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage interest rate is 7.32%, although CNN reported Thursday it had fallen to 6.61%.

Because of the rise in interest rates, listed homes aren’t getting as many nibbles and are falling in price, she added.

“Interest rates are killing people,” Mairs said. “Your purchasing power has gone down.”

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Mairs offered advice to those who had the opportunity to buy or sell a home in Strafford County. For sellers, having their home professionally photographed and properly marketed is of the utmost importance to their success, while buyers should choose knowledgeable agents and have their financing plans worked out.

“It’s not the crazy free shark festival it was,” she said of the market. “Houses could still be expensive, although now you don’t have to bid.”

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