OK. Spring is here and I have to wonder what is going on with the real estate market. There were only 52 single family residential home sales in April at an average of $239,018. We had 62 sales in March and last April there were 77 sales at an average price of $299,681. We are definitely headed in the wrong direction as far as sales volume. There have been 224 sales so far this year compared to 248 for the first four months of 2013. That's not a huge difference as long as the trend doesn't continue. I don't think I will concede to blaming the shortfall on global warming, but I guess the extremely long, difficult winter could have something to do with it.
The good thing is that the average sales price is going up. For the first four months we averaged $297,698 compared to $242,367 in 2013. That most likely means that a greater number of higher priced homes are selling rather than any rise in overall home values.
Another good stat this month was that homes, on average, brought 99 percent of their asking price at the time of sale. But that's just one month. So far this year, sales prices have been averaging of 94 percent of the asking price (compared to 93 percent for the same period last year.) It should be noted that in both 2013 and 2014 the asking price at the time of sale averaged 5 percent lower than the original list price.
In some areas homes sold pretty quickly, too. The average time on market for the four sales in Alton was only 5 days last month! I decided to take a close look at what sold in Alton and see if I could get some insight to help me sell my listings quickly.
The least expensive sale was the home at 516 Alton Mtn Road which sold for the asking price of $65,000. It sold the same day it was put on the market. This property was actually a single wide manufactured home built in 1995 on a two acre lot. It has 1,000 square feet of space, 3 bedrooms, and two baths. The thing that really impressed me and opened my eyes to a new marketing strategy was that there are just two pictures on the MLS; the main picture was of the toilet and the other was of a very narrow hallway. I kid you not! It seems that this marketing approach is intended to make buyers so curious about the property that they are compelled to come see it and immediately purchase it. Yeah, I know, the agent likely had a buyer already in hand when she listed it, but would you use a toilet photo as the main picture regardless? The agent was from Rochester. Maybe they do things differently down there?
The next sale was at 58 Spring Street; this property was listed right at its assessed value of $85,900 and sold for $82,500 in just 1 day. No great surprise here, just a modest 1960's vintage, 1,000 square foot, five room, two bedroom cottage with lots of upside potential.
The third sale was a charming 1801 vintage cape style home on 5.8 acres at 407 Stockbridge Corner Road. This 1,973 square foot, three bedroom, two bath home has lots of character and some recent updates including a new septic system. It was listed for $175,000 and sold at full price after just 11 days on the market. It is assessed at $162,100. This was a pretty nice property for not a lot of money.
The last, and largest sale, was at 122 Smith Point Road in Alton which most people consider to be a suburb of Gilford. This 3,500 square foot, contemporary style, multi-level waterfront home has been very well maintained. It has three bedrooms, three baths, large kitchen, open concept living and dining area, plus a large deck with great views of the lake. It sits on a .47 acre nicely landscaped lot with bluestone patios, gardens, lawn, and 100 feet of water frontage. This property was listed at $979,000 and sold for $950,000 after 9 days on the market. It is assessed at $861,000. Nice house, good price, quick sale.
So last month in Alton we had a mobile home, a small cottage, an antique cape, and a nice waterfront all sell very quickly with two at full price and two very close to the asking price. It seems like the key here is to either price a property correctly or... just put one picture of the bathroom toilet on the MLS. Which way do you want to go?
Please feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data was compiled using the Northern New England Real Estate MLS System as of 5/21/14. Roy Sanborn is a realtor at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.