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Gretchen Gandini - What a difference a year makes

"Ultimately, it's up to our community to say yes to a comprehensive regional trail system around here, advocate for a more walkable city, and help usher the project along by investing in its construction."
We wrote these words less than a year ago, encouraging the Lakes Region to look at the regional trail system not only as a nice path for residents to enjoy, but as a means for economic development. Since then, the City of Laconia has voted to make a significant investment of Downtown Tax Increment Financing funds in the walkability of the city, including the expansion of the Riverwalk and Phase 2 of the WOW Trail. As well, the Town of Belmont approved two warrant articles that will make it possible to build Phase 1 of their Winni Trail this summer.
Quite simply, enthusiasm for the regional trail effort is being backed by solid investment.
Nationwide, rail trails have proven time and again to be economic anchors that stimulate tourism and maintain and improve property values by fostering redevelopment. The more destinations connected by a trail, the greater the economic impact. Expanding the trail system in the Lakes Region will bring an additional type of tourist, increase overnight stays, and require existing and new businesses to meet their needs.
The regional trail will be a significant enhancement to our economy and it's not just us trail advocates who are saying so. According to downtown Laconia business owner Myles Chase of MC Cycle and Sport, "We have a customer base of recreational riders who seek out and travel to these types of trails as a destination. With the new addition to Belmont and eventually beyond, there is no doubt that riders from afar would do the same for the WOW Trail."
So what's next? Well, thanks to the City of Laconia's significant investment, we are close to funding Phase 2 of the WOW Trail, which will meet Belmont's Winni Trail at the Belmont/Laconia line. But, we need your help with a final fundraising push to make this happen.
Please share your enthusiasm for the trail with your friends and neighbors. Better yet, consider making a donation to the Phase 2 expansion efforts online at www.wowtrail.org or by mail to PO Box 6832, Laconia, NH 03247. Every dollar counts and no gift is too small. Come join us for the 11th Annual WOW Sweepstakes Ball on May 17th. Or, if you can't attend, just buy a ticket and I'll call you that night to let you know if you won the $10,000 grand prize! Tickets are available online at www.meadowbrook.net or can be purchased in person at Laconia Athletic & Swim Club and Patrick's Pub. If you are a business owner, consider writing us a letter of commitment for our upcoming CDFA Tax Credit application. It's a great way to highly leverage your contribution and impact to a significant regional project. E-mail us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information on this program.
In the Lakes Region we've got something that many rail trail communities nationwide can't offer: access to a wide range of year-round recreation opportunities and a regional trail that will showcase three beautiful lakes. Coupled with the opportunity to link neighboring communities together in a unique way, it's a wonder that trail enthusiasm hasn't hit the region sooner. Thank you for your belief in our efforts to make the Lakes Region a more desirable place to live, work and play. We hope you will join us as we make the final push for expanding the regional trail this summer/fall.
I'm ready for 4.5 miles of continuous trail for walking, biking and running in 2014. Are you?
(Gretchen Gandini is the executive director of the WOW Trail. She'd love to hear from you and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . The WOW Trail is a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 organization committed to building a 9 mile recreation path through the City of Laconia as a part of the regional rail trail network that will connect Meredith to Franklin. For more information, please visit www.wowtrail.org.)

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 March 2014 08:43

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February waterfront sales report

There were five waterfront homes sold on Lake Winnipesaukee in February, 2014 at an average price of $1.75 million. That's just a little bit better than the three sales posted in February 2013 at an average of $1.26 million.

The least expensive home sold was at 5 Little Bear Island in Tuftonboro. This is a pretty neat property that consists of a nice, 1,200 square foot, three bedroom log cabin built in 2005 along with a separate bunkhouse to hole up in when you get thrown out for staying up too late partying with your fishing buddies. The cabin has a great room with vaulted ceilings, a gas fired fieldstone fireplace, a loft area, a nice little kitchen, and a great rocking porch to tell fishing stories on. The .9 acre lot has 100' of frontage, and a permanent dock. This property was priced at $350,000 and sold for $300,000 after 156 days on the market.

The property representing the mid-priced sale was at 37 Elm Street in Alton...actually West Alton, near Smith Point. This is a 2,000 square foot, three bedroom, one and three quarter bath, contemporary home with panoramic long range views of the broads. The house has an open concept kitchen and living room area with lots of glass to bring in the views, cherry floors, and a gas fireplace. The master suite has a waterfront balcony, tiled bath, whirlpool and double closets. There's a family room over the attached two car garage with built in bunk beds and an additional bonus room over the detached two car garage that needs finishing. The house sits on a level half acre lot with 78' of crystal clear frontage, a sandy beach, and dock. This property was listed at $925,000, was reduced to $899,000, and sold for $870,000 after 484 days on the market. It is assessed at $781,100.

The highest price sale was at 83 Spindle Point in Meredith. This 6,700 square foot, fourteen room, four bedroom, six bath Adirondack home was custom built in 2009. The home features a gourmet kitchen (of course) with tile, granite and stainless, a fabulous great room with a see through fireplace that is shared with the dining room, and a first floor master suite with fireplaces in the bedroom and bath just in case you are cold when you get out of the shower. There are four more bedrooms upstairs plus a family room and down in the lower level there's a family room, game room, and bar area. The home is energy efficient and features a geothermal heating system. A four car garage will hold all your toys and there's a covered boat slip and breakwater for the Formula speedboat you've always wanted. The 1.87 acre lot has 100' of frontage and spectacular Southwest views. This home was offered at $2.86 million, was reduced to $2.45 million, and sold $2.258 million after 274 days on the market. Now this was a short sale, but it did close, so someone has gotta be happy with the purchase. This property is assessed at $2,230,700 by the big city of Meredith.

There were two sales on Winnisquam in February. A 672 square foot , four room, two bedroom cottage at 71-1 Maple Circle in Sanbornton found a new buyer after 151 days on the market. While you won't be able to get lost in this little cottage, the big deal is that it provides access to the broadest part of Winnisquam with 172 feet of sloping sandy frontage that's great for the kids and granny. There's a galley kitchen, a dining/living room area with a fireplace and a nice deck. This property was listed at $479,900, reduced to $431,400, and sold for $421,600. The Town of Sanbornton has the assessed value at $431,200. Good deal, Willie!

The other sale on Winnisquam was in Meredith at 27 Lower Waldron Road in Waldron Bay. This 4,814 square foot contemporary was built in 1999 and has four bedrooms and nine baths. Yes, nine baths! You see it is a long way from one end of the house to the other and you can never be sure if you'll make it. There are five full baths, two three quarter baths, and two half baths. All kidding aside, this is a beautiful open concept home which offer spectacular views for everyone that is not in a bathroom at the time. The main level has copper/slate flooring through the entry way and kitchen, antique maple flooring in the living room and dining area, soaring ceilings and gas fireplace, and a first floor master suite. There's a media room, spa room, second full kitchen, hot tub room, and full bar in the lower level walkout area. An attached three car garage will keep the cars warm and there's a 36 foot dock for your boat. The 1.07 acre lot has 168' of frontage with a perched beach. This home was listed at $1.299 million and sold for $1.16 million which seems like a lot until you break it down. It really cost just $128,889 per bathroom which is less than the assessed value of $130,566 per bathroom. See, it all depends on how you look at things.

There were no waterfront sales on Squam in February to report. I'm sure they'll be on the board next month!

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 3/15/14. Roy Sanborn is a realtor at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.

Last Updated on Friday, 21 March 2014 09:07

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Sanborn – The Home Start Homebuyer Tax Credit

As of March 1, 2014 there were 812 residential homes on the market in the twelve communities covered in this Lakes Region real estate market report. The average asking price was just over $500K and the median price point was $249,000. The current inventory level represents about a 9.3 month supply of homes to sell. Last March 1, there were 900 homes on the market which resented a 15 month supply. The increasing number of home sales is slowly whittling the inventory level down to more manageable levels.

With a median price point at $249,000 (which means half of the available inventory is under that), there are plenty of affordable homes out there for first time buyers. And, NH Housing has a program called the "t" to help first time home buyers (defined as not having owned a home in the past three years.) This program is also available to someone purchasing a home in a "targeted" area – such as Laconia. Qualified buyers can save up to $2,000 per year over the life of the loan.

Eligible home buyers can receive the tax credit by applying for and receiving a Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) issued through New Hampshire Housing. As I said, you have to be a first time buyer (or have not owned a home in three years, the credit can only be used with new loans, and the loan has to be for a single family primary residence.) There are purchase price limits for the property. Both Carroll and Belknap Counties are $250,000 with an increased limit in Laconia of $310,000. There are also income limits based on the household size.

Now the trick, if you want to call it that, is that this is a "Tax Credit" which is a "direct dollar for dollar reduction in your federal taxes worth up to 10 percent to 50 percent of the interest you pay on your mortgage" and therefore you have to have a tax liability each year in order to use it. But it is still a pretty good deal, I think. The example they give is for someone who has a $150,000 mortgage at a 5 percent interest rate which means they pay $7,450 per year in interest on that loan. With a 35 percent Homebuyer Tax Credit on that amount of interest ($7,450 x .35) it would equal $2,607, so that homeowner would receive the $2,000 maximum credit allowed. Hey, two grand is two grand.

To apply for a Homebuyer Tax Credit contact any of the Participating MCC Lenders listed at www.GoNewHampshireHousing.com. You can also call them at 1-800-649-0470. There may be a non-refundable fee to apply for the credit which may be reduced if you combine it with a New Hampshire Housing mortgage product.

Real estate tip: If you want to know exactly where the property line is, just watch the neighbor when he cuts the grass.

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 3/1/14. Roy Sanborn is a realtor at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.

Last Updated on Friday, 14 March 2014 09:45

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Sanborn – Canterbury Shaker Village – Can't wait to go back

My associate, Ashley Davis, and I were lucky enough to go on a tour of some very nice properties this past week with a couple of guys from California. They were here on a scouting trip to find locations for a photo shoot for a well-known product catalog and one of the locations was Canterbury Shaker Village. We were even more fortunate to be able to take a mini-tour of this amazing place with Executive Director Funi Burdick. She is not only a wealth of knowledge; she is profoundly exuberant and passionate about the village and the Shaker history.

The Canterbury Shaker Village is a National Historic Landmark that now consists of 25 original Shaker buildings, four restored buildings, and a museum located on 694 acres of forests, fields, and gardens on Shaker Road, in Canterbury. This self-contained village, which was established in 1792, once housed 300 people in over 100 buildings. The gambrel style meeting house dates to 1792 and the main dwelling house was built in 1793, making them the oldest, intact, structures of their kind in the country in their original locations.

While I have stopped at their museum store in the past, I must confess that I have never had taken a tour of the village before. But after seeing just five of their buildings on a rather frigid day, I can't wait to go back in this summer. You need to be able to take time to really immerse yourself in the architecture and explore the creativity and ingenuity of the Shakers. If you haven't been there yourself, you really should go, as it is quite extraordinary.

We visited the laundry building first. Why? Well, the building is amazing in itself, but it shows the true creativity of the Shakers. Funi thought it would be perfect for a backdrop for some of the photos. Did you know that the Shakers invented the first washing machine? One of the basement rooms exuded a primitive-industrial feel with a series of long rectangular wash sinks and a very large brick, wood-fired, washing machine in the center. In the room above the laundry, there is a wall of floor to ceiling vertical drawers that are used as drying racks. The wet laundry was then hung inside these vertical drawers and pushed back into the wall and was dried by the heat and steam rising from the laundry below. Pretty darn clever. I guess you could say they invented the first commercial dryer, too! Another common Shaker building practice called "borrowed light" is also evident in the drying room. The Shakers would often use a series of windows on inside walls to illuminate interior rooms and staircases with natural light. The Shakers also elevated the use of "peg rails" to an art form. Usually found in the backs of early closets to hang clothes own, these peg rails were freed from their dark confines and put on many interior walls providing additional storage space for garments, tools, and light furnishings.

I also loved the look and feel of the "syrup house." You immediately think of maple syrup, but in this fine structure the Shakers made Corbett's Syrup of Sarsaparilla which was renowned far and wide for its medicinal effectiveness. It was made from seven different herbs, including sarsaparilla, and several kinds of berries which apparently yielded an alcohol content of 10 percent. No wonder it was so popular! The "syrup house" has a classic New England clapboard exterior and plank interior walls plus an exposed beam ceiling all with faded and worn white paint. Very picturesque.

We also visited the barn, a residence, and the meeting house itself which was very amazing. This elegantly simple structure has a large open main level where the Shakers worshiped. Believe it or not, dancing was a large part of their services so the area had to be wide open with no posts or walls to interfere and the building had to be constructed to withstand... well, to withstand a whole lot of shaking going on. The second and third floor of the meeting house also served for a while as the penthouse residences of four Shaker elders and eldresses. But since being celibate is at the foundation of Shaker beliefs, separate entrances to the meeting house and separate staircases to the residences upstairs were a must.

For more pictures of the Shaker Village visit my website as well as www.shakers.org . But, more importantly, try to visit this remarkable place this summer and take in all that it has to offer. I might just see you there...

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. Roy Sanborn is a realto at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.

Last Updated on Friday, 28 February 2014 10:00

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Sanborn – Three tips for buying a home in 2014

Wanna buy a home this year? Here are three tips for buying a home in 2014...or any year for that matter!

1. Get a good New Hampshire realtor.

Just as sellers shop for realtors to sell their properties, to represent them, and protect their interests during the course of the transaction, buyers should also take some time before their home search begins and carefully select an agent with whom to work. It is, after all, the largest purchase you are likely to make (at least until you make enough to get that new Lear Jet you've always wanted). Having someone to guide you through the unknown territory here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire is invaluable if you are from out of town. And, whether this is your first home or your last, having an agent to guide you to your dream property and then through the buying process itself makes the whole experience a lot easier.

All agents are not created equal. We all have different personalities, abilities, knowledge, and expertise. We all have different levels of dedication to our profession and livelihood. You should look for an agent who demonstrates an ability to listen to you, has demonstrated success, and has some experience under his or her belt. Look for someone who knows the market, is a dedicated full time professional, and most importantly find someone who meshes with your personality. Selecting the right Lakes Region realtor will lead you to your dream property on a much quicker and more direct path.

2. Deal with local Lakes Region lenders.

This is a biggie to me. If you are contemplating the purchase of a new home you probably need to borrow money like most folks. And whether this is your first or last home, the best advice I can give to you is to find a lender that has a local office. Dealing with someone here in the Lakes Region that both you and your agent can easily reach, meet with, and interact with in person as the financing process progresses is invaluable in today's market. Local lenders are usually much more responsive to you than someone half a world away that you will never see.

3. Educate yourself.

This is more important now than ever. You should educate yourself on the area, neighborhood, and community you are buying in, about the home buying process itself, the types of mortgages available, and the many advantages to home ownership as well as the costs and challenges. Taking a first time home buyer class is highly recommended if you are a newbie. The Laconia Area Community Land Trust offers frequent classes, so check out their website and sign up for one! Buying a home is, in itself, an educational process. As you look at properties, you will formulate your own sense of market values, realize what your real wants and needs are, and learn a lot about home construction to boot. Your home may be the biggest long term investment you'll ever make, so make it an educated one. And your realtor is there to help you with that, too!

We started off the year with 56 residential home sales in January in the Lakes Region communities covered in this report. The average sales price came in at $347,736. That's pretty good as there were 54 sales in January, 2013 at an average of $189,399. Every little baby step is a positive one.

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 2/17/13. Roy Sanborn is a realtor at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.

Last Updated on Friday, 21 February 2014 09:03

Hits: 676

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