Lakes Region vs. Coast of Maine

By Frank Roche, President Roche Realty Group

Last week, I met with a couple from the Greater Boston area. They're thinking of purchasing a second home and couldn't decide on the coast of Maine or the Lakes Region. So to help, I broke down some comparisons for them...
Coast of Maine
• Driving distance from Boston to Ogunquit: 1 hour 33 minutes
• Driving distance to Camden: 3 hours 21 minutes
• Choice of long sandy beaches or craggy rocky coastline
• Quaint coastal towns with Down East charm
• Extensive traffic up I-95 & Route 1
• Prime tourist season runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day
• Businesses have extended their operations to extend the season by two or three months with "off-season rates"
• Smell of salt air, scenic views of the coastline and fine, fresh seafood eateries attract a wide audience
• Lots of beach choices – York, Ogunquit, Old Orchard, Kennebunkport, Biddeford, Boothbay, Camden, Bar Harbor, etc.
• Saltwater beaches with surf, strong currents, colder water and tides to navigate
• Long stretches of beaches for walking and recreation
• Boating is difficult. Very few choices with direct boating access in front of your home
• Salt water and barnacles are corrosive to boats and outdrives
• Boating regulations and navigation are much more complicated on the ocean
• Ocean fog and cooler summertime temperatures are a factor
• Nearby summer attractions include The Marginal Way, Ogunquit Summer Playhouse, York Animal Kingdom, state parks, lighthouse tours, Funtown/Splashtown amusement park, Portland Museum of Art and so much more
• Winter attractions are very limited; many businesses & restaurants are closed for the winter; likewise many second home owners close their homes for the season

Lakes Region
• Driving distance from Boston to the Lakes Region: 1 hour 45 minutes
• Easy access to I-93
• There are 273 lakes, ponds and rivers within the Lakes Region.
• Crystal-clear fresh-water lakes offer great swimming, easy boating, fishing, water skiing and relaxation.
• Boat accessibility is a huge advantage on our lakes. Most towns have public launches and most homes and communities cater to the avid boater.
• The Lakes Region is a "Four Season Destination." This is really our biggest advantage over coastal living. When the summer season ends, autumn breezes in along with its beautiful foliage; perfect for sightseeing, hiking and so much more.
• The Lakes Region is surrounded by the Belknap, Ossipee and White Mountain ranges. Offering amazing hiking trails, scenic drives. The White Mountains along offer 48 4,000-footers!
• Winter season unfolds with numerous sporting activities – alpine and Nordic skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice climbing, winter hiking, ice fishing, pond hockey, sled dog racing and so much more
• Nearby attractions include The Bank of New Hampshire Music Pavilion, New Hampshire Motor Speedway (hosting two Nextel Cup races a year and many other venues), The Tanger Outlet Mall, numerous golf courses, The Winnipesaukee Playhouse, Interlakes Summer Theatre, Funspot (the largest arcade in the world), Gunstock Recreation Area (not just for skiing! Zip lines, aerial treetop adventures, tubing, cross-county skiing and snowshoeing, and new this year – FatTire bike riding across 32 miles of trails, and coming this summer a mountain coaster!)
• Choice of many scenic lakeside towns and villages. The town of Meredith is known for its Rotary Ice Fishing Derby, Gilford hosts the Ironman Triathlon at Ellacoya State Beach, Laconia is home to Laconia Motorcycle Week (the oldest motorcycle rally in the world) where people from all over the world come visit our great area and ride along our beautiful scenic roads and Laconia is also the new home of the Pumpkin Festival.
• There are numerous craft fairs, chowder fests, marathons, fishing derbies, boat and car shows throughout all our towns.

The choice between the two regions is certainly difficult. Both offer unlimited recreational and cultural opportunities. I tried my best to be unbiased. I really do love our neighboring coast, but the final decision comes down to year-round vs. seasonal living.
Personally, I prefer the four-season choice, and whenever I have the craving for fresh fried clams and that salty air, I just take a short drive to the ocean.

Please feel free to visit to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Frank Roche is president of Roche Realty Group in Meredith and Laconia, NH, and can be reached at (603) 279-7046.

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 1187

Rumney 'rocks'

By Gordon DuBois

In Rumney, one can find some of the best hiking trails and rock climbing in New England. Yet it is an area few people are aware of, except the rock-climbing community and the locals. When I mention Rattlesnake Mountain, most people reply, "Oh ya, that short hike in Holderness, which has a beautiful view of Squam Lake." I say, "No the other Rattlesnake in Rumney." They then give me a puzzled look and respond, "Where's Rumney"? Usually, most outdoor adventurers are looking toward the summits of the Whites and speed up I-93 to tackle the "big mountains." Little do they know that Rumney, just west of Plymouth, holds great opportunities for hiking.

The cliffs on Rattlesnake Mountain, called Rumney Rocks, are well known by the rock-climbing community. During the summer months, the parking and camping areas on Buffalo Road are filled with enthusiastic rock climbers. It's one of the premier rock-climbing destinations in the country. Climbers from all over the world visit during the fall season. This area has become a focal point of sport climbing, which is a term used by climbers that refers to using permanent anchors fixed to the rock. It's truly amazing that there are over 40 different rock-climbing routes on these cliffs.

Rumney, just off the beaten path of Route 25, is the quintessential New England town. It was settled 1765 and was once the home of many mills and tanneries located along Stinson Brook flowing out of Stinson Lake. The town square is bounded by several colonial homes, churches, library, inn, pub and coffee shop. Not far from the center of town is a wonderful restaurant, The Rumney Rocks Bistro.

Four mountains dominate the area. Rattlesnake (1,594 ft.), Carr (3,453 ft.) and Stinson (2,900 ft.) can be climbed via well marked trails. The fourth mountain, Kineo (3,313 ft.), is trailless, but the base of the mountain is accessed following the Mt. Kineo trail to the height of land. One can then bushwhack to the summit. Both Stinson and Carr mountains were once the sites of fire towers and the remnants of these towers are still evident today. All four mountains rise at an angle between the Pemigewasset and Baker Rivers. The trail heads are all within a 45-minute drive from my home in New Hampton.

A few weeks ago, Steve Zimmer and I, along with our dogs Skipper and Reuben, headed off to climb Rattlesnake. We wanted to hike for half a day, knew that Rattlesnake was less than 3 miles round trip, and offered outstanding views of the Baker River Valley. The parking area for the trailhead is located off Buffalo Road about 3 miles from the town square in Rumney. As we were nearing the trailhead, we passed the large parking area for rock climbers, thinking that this was where we could park, but further on we found a small open area that marked the beginning of the Rattlesnake Trail.

We began the hike along a stream that was beginning to freeze with the coming of colder weather. There was still minimal snow and ice on the ground, so it made walking easy, with no need for micro spikes or other traction on the feet. We followed an old logging road that was probably used to haul timber off the mountain. We made our way along this well-defined path until it started to climb steeply to the ridge that would eventually lead us to the summit. Within less than a mile we came to a fork in the trail. This marked the section of trail that makes a loop over the cliff face of Rattlesnake. We chose to take the left-hand path and began out final thrust to the summit. It was a clear day with only a few wispy clouds in the sky. As we neared the summit, we viewed Mt. Stinson dominating the view to the east. We could also see the summit of Carr Mountain in the west. We made our way along the cliff edge for taking in the views and looking down at the cliffs below hoping to see rock climbers working their way toward us. There were none to see, so we began our hike down the mountain and back to the trail head. On our way off the summit, we noticed several dead trees still standing, with the scars of the forest fire that swept across the mountain several years ago. It appeared that the area was rebounding back to its natural state and reminded us how nature has a way of recovering from the devastating effects of fire.

When we returned to our car and headed back to town, we stopped at the café on the town square for a cup of hot chocolate and pastry. With the skimpy snow cover, climbing Rattlesnake would make for enjoyable day hike of about two to three hours for the entire family. The rewarding views and moderate hike to the summit offer a wonderful opportunity to explore an area that many people miss. You may also want to follow the rock climbing trails to the base of the mountain to watch rock or ice climbers scaling the cliffs. On the way back to the Lakes Region you may also want to stop at the Quincy Bog Natural Area for a one mile hike around the fen, which is located on Quincy Road, just off Route 25.


Gordon has hiked extensively in Northern New England and the Adirondacks of New York State. In 2011, he completed the Appalachian Trail (2,285 miles). He has also hiked the Long Trail in Vermont, The International AT in Quebec, Canada, Cohos Trail in northern New Hampshire, and the John Muir Trail in California. Gordon has summited the New Hampshire Hundred Highest peaks, and the New England Hundred Highest. He spends much of his time hiking in the White Mountains with his dog Reuben and especially enjoys hiking in the Lakes Region due to the proximity to his home in New Hampton. He is also a trail maintainer for the BRATTS (Belknap Range Trail Tenders). He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 691

Sanbornton: A history that spans 268 years

LAKES REGION PROFILES by Mary O'Neill, Sales Associate at Roche Realty Group


The town of Sanbornton traces its history back to 1748 when 60 men petitioned King George II for a township. According to Mildred Coombs in her document "Sanbornton N.H. 1770-1970," 80 lots were drawn out from the Great Bay to the Pemigewasset River. The area was called "Sanborn Town" since at least 12 of the original grantees had the name Sanborn. Each man was required to clear three acres, build a house, and live on that land for six years, at which time they were obligated to clear six more acres. According to early records, by 1768 there were 32 families in the area. In March of 1770, a petition for incorporation was made and granted by King George III to "Sanbornton."

Today, Sanbornton is a vibrant community perched between the Pemigewasset River and Lake Winnisquam. The historic center of town exemplifies all the charm of a fine New England town. Historic buildings house the town library and Sanbornton Historical Society, and a large number of homes built by the early settlers frame the quaint streets. The views are varied, from pastoral fields filled with grazing cattle to sparkling vistas over pristine mountains and water bodies. The population of Sanbornton is around 3,000 and the average home value is $272,257. According to the "Lifestyle Finder," accessible on the Roche Realty Group website, the average selling price for a home in Sanbornton in the past year was $217,104.

A primitive sketch titled "Sanbornton Square" in Ms. Coombs' document notes the locations of numerous 18th century businesses: Taylor's Blacksmith Shop, Great Store of Andrew Lovejoy, Ward's Distillery, Sanborn's Harness & Saddlery Shop, Tin Smith Shop, Bang's Tavern, Chas Lane's Printing & Book Binding, and others. Today Sanbornton Square is not as active. Nowadays the town's many establishments and activities are spread throughout its hills.

Balanced on the top of Steele Hill overlooking Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam, and the White Mountains is Steele Hill Resort, set amongst 500 acres. Guests can golf, snowmobile, snowshoe, sled, hike and fish. Amenities include year-round swimming pools and hot tubs in a conservatory, tennis and racquetball courts, exercise rooms, roman spa, enclosed observation tower, and The Hilltop Restaurant. The resort is a scenic venue for vacations, conferences, and weddings and is close to ski destinations such as Gunstock Mountain, Waterville Valley, and Cannon Mountain. The resort also offers time shares. Visit for more information.

The Lake House at Ferry Point Inn is a delightful stay nestled on the edge of Lake Winnisquam. It is operated by John and Cindy Becker. The picturesque circa 1800 Victorian inn was built as a summer retreat for the Pillsbury family and affords guests a peaceful spot to enjoy the lake and surroundings. Guests can access the lake via a private beach or with kayaks. The inn is a registered American Historic Inn property and was awarded a "Certificate of Excellence" from TripAdvisor in 2015. There are well over 100 five-star reviews for the inn on TripAdvisor. Linda from Washington state called the inn "an ideal idyll...your needs will be met here! You can relax in the comfy living room, grab a cookie and coffee, or sit in the gazebo and watch the lake go by." Gene A. from South Carolina said, "The setting is superb, the historical aspect terrific, and the food was great, but the hospitality of Cindy and John is what we'll remember most." For more information, go to

Tucked in a serene spot, Cadbury Woods Farm is an equine training facility and offers horseback riding lessons tailored to each student's riding level. The farm was founded in 1995 and is spearheaded by USDF Silver Medalist Elizabeth Oellers, who has 43 years of experience with horses. Her passion is to teach her students to ride "for harmony and balance" – not just to learn the mechanics of horseback riding, but the whole picture including the instinctual behavior of the horse, biomechanics, and classical riding principles. A student, Lisa, said, "The atmosphere around the barn is upbeat, with everyone friendly and supportive of each other ... Elizabeth teaches what is needed to be a really good rider, and she does it in a way that I always feel inspired, already looking forward to my next lesson." Kim W. had this to say: "If you really want to learn how to ride, I would highly suggest Elizabeth for lessons, or training with your horse." In addition to the year-round lesson program and training, Cadbury Woods offers week-long Kids Camp sessions in the summer. For information visit

Heritage Farm Pancake House delights with its farm fresh family style breakfast. Your table will be spread with a goodness of pancakes, maple syrup, eggs, bacon, and home fries. Each person serves themselves from the abundance – like a family gathered around their home table. In the winter months, you can arrange to take a wagon or sleigh ride, which is particularly enchanting in the evening with the addition of a bonfire. Learn more at

Surowiec Farm has been a part of the Surowiec family since 1917. In season, you can pick your own blueberries and apples. The summer months finds the Surowiec's farm stand filled with fresh vegetables, strawberries, homemade jams and jellies, mustard, relish, and pickles. They also offer a selection of locally made products, such as fresh ice cream and cheese from Sandwich Creamery, smoke cheese and meat from Fox County Smokehouse, and maple products from Just Maple. In 2011, Surowiec Farm started a Community Supported Agriculture program, where members sign up and pay for a share at the start of the season and pick up their weekly share on a specified day during the harvest season. More details can be found at

Also, Sanbornton is home to the well-respected private school Sant Bani, an independent K-8 day school founded in 1973. The school emphasizes collaboration and service to others, and the small class sizes and committed faculty provides a conducive atmosphere for learning.

Your name does not have to be Sanborn to enjoy the town of Sanbornton. The above are just a few of the many wonderful establishments and activities experienced by residents and visitors alike.

Please feel free to visit to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Mary O'Neill is a sales associate at Roche Realty Group in Meredith & Laconia, NH and can be reached at 366-6306.

01-23 Cadbury WoodsFerry Point Inn

Two well-established businesses in Sanbornton are Cadbury Woods Farm and The Lake House at Ferry Point Inn.

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 1095

Bob Meade - A primer for Hillary

Founding father Thomas Jefferson said, "People get the government they deserve".

Just a few years ago, MIT Professor of Economics, Jonathan Gruber, caused quite a kerfuffle when he told a group that the Democrats were dependent on the voters being too stupid to understand the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare) because, if they did understand it, the bill would not have been passed.

Please keep those quotes in the back of your mind as we review some more recent events.

One would think that after Professor Gruber made that statement, our political strategists and politicians would have become a bit more circumspect on the positions they present to the voters . . . but that has not been the case. For example, Secretary Clinton has been hammering away on the need for "equal pay for women." While I haven't seen or heard anyone of either political party arguing against equal pay for women, it may be because they know that the equal pay act was passed and signed into law by President Kennedy in 1963. Apparently the secretary is depending on an uninformed group of voters in order to foster a "women's issue" that simply does not exist.

When that law was first enacted, one of the major issues businesses faced was the fact that not every first or second line supervisor or manager position was "equal" to every other. For example, back in 1963, companies still had "typing pools," and computer technologies had begun to invade businesses across the country. The supervisor of the "typing pool" didn't require the level of education and training of a supervisor of a computer technical support group. A new look at job evaluation and job titles was begun to distinguish between the job "level,", and the job "value," and to compare those among companies to determine their competitive worth. That led to salary ranges being established for each job title (vs. job level), based on its value to the company and its overall competitive value in the marketplace. That process continues today. Job values determined the wages to be paid for each job title; normally, a new entry into the job level being paid about 85 percent of the job's top rate, with a "step" progression of about 3 percent a year for satisfactory performance to reach the top level. Those failing to perform at an acceptable level could be denied their "step progression" raise until they performed at an acceptable level.

In addition to distinguishing between job titles and values, job performance had to be considered. While the overwhelming numbers of workers perform at acceptable levels, the long established "bell curve" has shown some employees fail to meet job expectations while others, perform beyond the expectation set by the company. As noted above, those failing to meet job expectations could be denied their step progression raise, without affecting the equal pay for equal work requirements.

How to compensate for excellent performance for those at the top end of the bell curve was an issue, as any pay "increase" to a particular job level, would automatically apply to all those at that job level who had performed "satisfactorily". However the issue to be addressed was how to provide an incentive to the workforce, and to reward for meritorious performance without having to compensate the many for the work of the few. That problem was solved by rewarding the overachievers with a "bonus" plan that would address performance for that year only, and would not be added to the employees' salary level. The fact that a person earned a performance bonus for year one, did not mean that he or she would get such a bonus in year two and beyond. The bonus was based strictly on the level of performance each year, with everyone in that pool of workers being eligible.

What has been described above is the essence of the equal pay programs. Obviously, the larger the company the more likely there will be a diversity of job titles within each job level . . . with each one being competitively valued in the marketplace.

Back to our quotes. It is highly unlikely that Jefferson could have foreseen these days of incredible, widespread and instant communications. It is also unlikely he could have foreseen today's professional politicians. However, his quote was a warning not to the politicians but to the electorate, letting us know that it is we, the people, who are ultimately responsible for the government, based on the choices we make.

In a way, Jefferson's quote and the quote of Professor Gruber are not in conflict. Rather, Gruber's quote is a confirmation of Jefferson's warning . . . if we the people are too apathetic, or too uninformed, we can therefore be swayed into ceding our freedoms to the politically cunning. Ergo, we deserve the government we get.

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 679

Roy Sanborn - The 2015 year-end Winnipesaukee and Winnisquam Waterfront sales report

December 2015 was another strong month for Winnipesaukee waterfront sales with 19 transactions at an average sales price of $1,060,368. Last December, we had 14 sales in December and only three in 2013, so sales are definitely up! There were six sales over the million-dollar mark, with the largest sale coming in at $3.65 million on Governor's Island at 548 Edgewater Drive.

2015 turned out to be a very good year for waterfront sellers with 175 transactions on the Winni (including island sales) at an average sales price of $1,095,589, with a median price point of $815,900. That's a 36 percent increase in Winnipesaukee waterfront sales over 2014, when we posted 128 sales at an average of $1.082 million. The highest sale of the year was in July at 24 Tranquility Lane in Alton, which brought a cool $5.85 million.

Sales on the lake tallied up to $209,491,985 in 2015 compared to $138,311,217 in 2014 and $127,023,459 in 2013. That's an incredible 51 percent increase in dollar volume! That $209 million sales volume represents just over half of the $399 million total for all of the residential sales in those towns for the year. No one can ever say that the waterfront sales don't have an impact on the Lakes Region economy because you can see by the number it clearly does.

Where did the increase come from? The largest increase in sales was in the under $1 million category where sales jumped from 79 in 2014 to 110 in 2015. In the $1 million to $2 million category there were 10 more sales compared to last year, three sales more in the $2 million to $3 million range, and total sales over $3 million more than doubled from three to eight. So, by far, the lower-priced waterfronts saw more activity.

The award for the town with the highest number of sales in 2015 goes to Alton with 48 transactions, and that's up from 27 posted in 2014. Moultonborough went from 34 sales last year to 38 this year, Gilford had 25 sales, Meredith 23, Wolfeboro 22, Laconia 10, Tuftonboro 9, and Center Harbor got a goose egg this year. Wolfeboro had the highest sales price average at $1,626,421, Gilford posted $1,390,920, and Alton came in at $1,035,041. The rest of the towns all averaged under $1 million.

There were three sales in December on Winnisquam, bringing the total for the year to 21 transactions at an average sales price of $512,733 and a median price point of $500,000. That's up from the 14 sales in 2014 but the average is off from the $591,214 average last year. The highest sale for the year on Winnisquam was at 19 Lower Waldron Road in Meredith which garnered $950,000. That's a pretty good year on Winnisquam as well.

Right now, there are about 120 waterfront properties on Winnipesaukee starting at just under $300,000 for an island property up to $10 million if you have a little extra to spend. There's plenty to look at in all price ranges on the big lake as well as lots of affordable properties on the dozens of other lakes and ponds in the area. Will 2016 be the year you take the plunge and get that waterfront home you've always dreamed of? I hope so!


Pl​ease feel free to visit to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data compiled using the NNEREN MLS system as of 1/19/16. ​Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 677-7012.


  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 733