Housing inventory getting closer to healthy level

As of February 1, 2014 there were just 762 homes available in the twelve Lakes Region communities covered in this market report. That is pretty amazing to me as it is the lowest number I have seen in a long, long time. The current inventory level represents just an 8.8 month supply of homes on the market. That compares to an 11.5 month supply in February 2013, a 15 month supply in 2012, a 12 month supply in 2011, and 15 month's worth in February, 2010. We are approaching what would be considered a healthy inventory level rather than being awash in listings that are stagnating on the market. One can only hope that a good balance of supply and demand may be on the horizon!

We are one month into the New Year and we've had skaters skating, ice fisherman fishing, and the sled dogs will be running next weekend. There are a lot of great activities in the Lakes Region to take part in or watch this time of year. If your winter activity includes house shopping, here's a look at some of the new listings that have come on since the first of the year that might just be the bargain you have been looking for. There's a bank owned 1,984 square foot, six room, three bedroom ranch on a 1.35 acre lot at 90 Cherry Valley Road in Gilford that is on the market for $195,000 with an assessed value of $247,740. It was built in 1980 and features a master suite, a fireplace in the living room, partially finished basement, two car garage, and an in ground pool. The pictures look like it will need some updating, but hey, it seems like the price is pretty good compared to its assessment and it is Gilford so it may well be worth a visit to see what it's like.

There's a 1980 vintage shingle style cape at 118 Seavey Road in Belmont that might also be a bargain. It is priced at $174,900 which is 77 percent of the assessed value of $228,400. This home was built in 1980 and sits on a nicely landscaped, 5 acre level lot. It has 2,195 square feet of living space with two bedrooms, one bath, hardwood floors, a family room with cathedral ceilings and a brick fireplace, and a walkout lower level with the potential of an additional bedroom. Looks like a good deal to me...

There's a nicely maintained 2,432 square foot, three bed, two bath, contemporary home at 949 Cherry Valley Road in Gilford that is on the market for $249,000 which is 87 percent of its assessed value of $287,130. This home was built in 1986 and has an open concept floor plan, nice mountain views, a first floor master suite with two more bedrooms in the lower level along with a family room, a spacious screened porch, and two car garage. It is definitely worth a look!

There are a couple of nice properties that I wanted to mention just because they look very appealing and I could see myself living in either one. There is a nice Winnipesaukee water access home at 11 Jeremiah Smith Road in Moultonborough that has great curb appeal. This 3,545 square foot colonial has three bedrooms including the master suite, three baths, and a family room with a fireplace, cathedral ceilings, and exposed beams. The eat-in country kitchen also has exposed beams and a wood stove to keep everyone cozy and warm. There's a formal dining room, a wonderful four season room, and a wrap around farmer's porch that's perfect to rocking away the night...in July that is. This home has a two car garage and sits on a 1.83 acre lot close to snowmobile trails and is just 2/10 of a mile to a sugar sand beach. It is being offered at $436,000. Check out the pictures on-line and you'll agree it looks pretty nice!

Another nice property that was previously listed but just came back on the market is up on top of the world at 215 Pinnacle Hill Road in New Hampton. This is a 2,762 square foot ranch that was built in 2002 on a gorgeous 4 acre lot with mountain views. The home has a master suite with whirlpool tub, separate shower, and a walk-in closet. There are two guest bedrooms, an eat-in kitchen with black cherry cabinetry and hardwood floors, a living room with a gas fireplace, a bonus room over the two car garage, a walk out basement, and two covered porches. This property has easy access to Route 93 so it is a great commuter location. It is being offered at $334,900. Is it a good deal? You'll need to find out for yourself so give your agent a call, stop by the fishing derby, and then go take a look!

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 2/1/14. Roy Sanborn is a realtor at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.

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Bob Meade - Planned Parenhood: A government funded oxymoron

Back in the early 1920s, Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger was promoting Eugenics as a way to improve the human race. Eugenics is the belief that the race can be purified by sterilizing or otherwise ridding the population of people who have some genetic defect. The Chancellor of Germany, who wreaked havoc on Europe in the 30s and 40s, and who caused the murder of over six million Jews, shared in that opinion.

By definition, an "oxymoron" is a contradictory term. One would think that the term "Planned Parenthood" would indicate an organization dedicated to helping people understand how to plan a family. Nature has instilled in every living creature the desire to mate. Without that desire, life forms as we know them would have ceased to exist long ago. If Planned Parenthood were truly devoted to "life", their time would be spent teaching young men and women things such as how to reasonably measure the chances that a woman is in a fertile state, what foods and drink should be consumed or avoided when the woman is pregnant, what exercises are helpful, what changes in the body are to be expected and what is normal or abnormal, and so on.

In teaching about family "planning", one would think that Planned Parenthood could also provide a variety of instructions, to both men and women, on how to avoid becoming pregnant. Such as, abstenance is not a life sentence, it's a temporary condition. For some, their family planning might include instructions on contraceptive options for either or both partners. It would seem that if a couple really wants help in "planning for parenthood", these steps would be commonplace.

That leads us to the "oxymoron issue". Planned Parenthood annually provides about one third of all abortions that occur in the United States. That is about 350,000 of the over one million babies that have been aborted in this country, every single year since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, have been done by that organization. Is planning to abort "family planning", or is it a sad answer to having failed to plan?

Money is "fungible" . . . it can be used for any number of things. If you receive a gift of money to buy a new sweater or blouse, you may decide to use that money to get an oil change for your automobile . . . because money is fungible. The Congressional Hyde Amendment, authored by the late Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde and enacted into law in 1977, prevents the use of federal funds for abortions. Countless pro-abortion activist organizations have railed against this amendment ever since, calling for it to be removed, even though money's fungibility virtually makes the issue moot.

In the case of Planned Parenthood, the Federal government grant to them in 2013 was slightly more that $540 million, which amounted to 45 percent of the organizations $1.2 billion budget for the year. Think of fungibility, and the over 350,000 abortions in this country that are performed by Planned Parenthood every year. Yet, Planned Parenthood disingenuously claims that only 3 percent of its activity is for abortion services. That organization equates a clerk answering a question, or a referral to a doctor, or some such thing, as having the same weight as a baby being aborted. The fact that they would be so devious in misrepresenting the weighting of the different functions is outrageous. In their terms, they're claiming that Planned Parenthood's performing of over ten million mostly administrative functions are each comparable to the termination of life for about 350,000 unborn children. Outrageous!

The leader of this country's Chamber of Commerce recently stated, "Demographics is destiny". He is correct. What he didn't say though, is that we have the ability to control demographics as we choose to birth or to abort. Since Roe v. Wade, we have denied citizenship to over fifty million people. Social systems have been built here and around the world that are dependent on positive birth rates to survive, and as those birth rates diminish, so too does society flounder. In addition to the demise of the social structures, how many of those who have been and are yet to be aborted would have had the skills and abilities to find the cures for debilitating diseases . . . alzheimers, cancers, multiple sclerosis, and on, and on. Was the next Bill Gates the expendable price for a night of pleasure? Or a Jonas Salk? Or a Luciano Pavroti. How much potential brilliance went into the disposal?

We now have people arguing over whether or not poverty is the result of single parenting, as we mistakenly replace the value of marriage with a trust in government to make our boo-boo's all better. And, we have people pleading for votes for candidates based on the candidates willingness to abort the defenseless child. Look back at our history. This country was built on hard work, strong family units, and morality. Respect and religion went hand in hand. Now we eschew those things based on empty political promises and people ask us to vote for politicians based on their willingness to literally, throw the unborn under the proverbial bus.

Yes, demographics is destiny and right now . . . it's not looking too good.

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)

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Froma Harrop - High taxes, lots of regulation & doing fine

"The not so Golden State" is how a recent issue of The Economist magazine tags California's business climate. It's the latest in a trove of conservative literature trying to dance around the fact that high-tax, highly regulated, bureaucratic states can be economic powerhouses. The writers deal with the "problem" by burying reality under a pile of "buts" and "howevers."

In recent years, California has indeed suffered from gridlocked government, punishing pension obligations and debt — plus the housing meltdown. It's been addressing these challenges. And though one cannot vouch for the wisdom of every regulation, the state's environmental ethic is a big reason smart people put up with the warts.

But only Silicon Valley is doing well, The Economist says. Manufacturing stinks. "IPhones are 'designed by Apple in California,'" the article notes, "but made in Shenzhen."

Apple nonetheless employs 16,000 Californians in and around Cupertino and plans to expand that number to 24,000. The Apple workers reportedly earn an average of $125,000. There must be something going for Apple in California.

There's this fantasy that if our environmental regulations just went lax, America would have some renaissance in factory employment. Thing is, manufacturing output in this country has actually tripled in the last 60 years, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

U.S. factories are simply being run with fewer, well-trained people operating computers. The low-skilled, low-wage, labor-intensive factory jobs are not coming back, and why should we want them?

The Economist seems vexed that Gov. Jerry Brown would sign a bill raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour in 2016 — as though Wendy's could sell burgers in Bakersfield from a store in Nevada. By the way, in 1968, the national minimum wage was $10.77 in today's dollars.

Only Silicon Valley?! Check out The Wall Street Journal's new "Billion-Dollar Startup Club." These are companies valued at $1 billion or more by venture capital firms.

Of the 37 billion-dollar startups, 26 are based in the U.S. — 22 of them in California. Of the four U.S. startups not located in California, three are in New York City — not exactly your low-tax haven and, at the moment, freezing cold. The other one is in Jacksonville, Fla.
Those who strike it rich will do tax planning, and that may include buying homes in low-tax places. But the big tech innovators are still building their companies where their brainiacs want to be. Kings of the creative class demand the stimulation found in great urban neighborhoods. And they want a nice countryside to hike in.

Two years ago, The Wall Street Journal published an emotional essay titled "California Declares War on Suburbia." The writer was especially upset that the Association of Bay Area Governments had proposed limiting new housing beyond the San Francisco and San Jose "urban fringe" to 3 percent of the total. Most new building would be multifamily homes.

Boy, do they hate San Francisco. But the strict building rules have kept San Francisco — and its environs — a beautiful place. That's why tech people working in surrounding areas insist on making their nests in San Francisco when they could live cheaper, bigger and closer to work.

Universities are another magnet and incubator for new companies. They tend to spawn the liberal, active-government cultures in which innovation thrives. There's some irony that the premier tech center of Texas is progressive Austin, thanks in great part to the University of Texas, a creature of state government.

To the states with good education, an open-minded community and an attractive environment go the tech spoils. Taxation does matter, and there's such a thing as dumb regulations. But for the knowledge economy, that's not everything or even, it seems, the big thing. California shows how.

(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

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Is the condo life for you?

Condominiums are a big part of our real estate market in the Lakes Region of NH. Condos provide care free living for many year round residents as well as a more affordable get-a-way for those looking for a second home. We are fortunate to have many condo associations that offer great amenities like water access, docks, moorings, beaches, tennis courts, and exercise facilities. When you combine these amenities with the fact that exterior maintenance, snowplowing, mowing, and landscaping tasks are taken care of for you, condo living looks pretty darn good. After all, you do want to spend more time on the boat, golf course, or ski slope don't you?

The Lakes Region has a wide range of condo associations from cottage colony conversions to gated communities like South Down Shores in Laconia and Grouse Point in Meredith. And, there is a wide range of prices so there is something to suit everyone's budget. Sale prices this year ranged from just $31,500 for a studio style condo at 937 Weirs Boulevard to $667,900 for a brand new lakefront unit at the Townhomes at Meredith Bay at 595 Scenic Road in Laconia.

There were 122 condo sales in Laconia in 2013 at an average price of $186,697. That total is up 29 percent over 2012 when there were 96 transactions with an average sales price of $185,055. That's a pretty impressive increase! It should be noted that about one quarter of those condo sales in Laconia were in South Down Shores.

There were ten condominium sales in Meredith in both 2012 and 2013. The average sales price was $246,000 in 2012 with a slight increase to $267,850 in 2013. Gilford finished 2013 with 42 transactions at an average sale price of $150,881 compared to 39 in 2012 at an average of $180,374.

So is condo living right for you? There are a lot of pluses, including those listed above, along with the fact that major costs and repairs are shared among all of the unit owners. But, there are also issues that some people shy away from. There are the monthly condo association fees to cover all the maintenance you chose not to do and, like taxes, they never seem to go down. And there can be special assessments from time to time when unexpected and unbudgeted repairs come up. Of course, as with any association, there are the politics of running the place with meetings, elections, and decisions to be made on expenditures and rules. You need to be able to play well with others and accept the will of the majority in order to enjoy condo living and almost invariably there are one or two unit owners that don't.

Rules and regulations will differ for each association so you need to investigate each one. Probably the biggest issue for vacation home buyers relates to the availability and assignment of docks and moorings, especially when there are fewer spaces than there are unit owners. Each association can handle this situation differently. Another big issue is whether your unit can be sublet. Many owners like to rent their units out occasionally in order to defray some costs, but not all associations allow short term rentals so you need to do your homework.

If you are thinking of purchasing a condo, now is a great time to get out at look at the available inventory. Right now there are over 180 units available in Belknap County! Your realtor will be able to help you sort out the details and find a unit that fits your budget and lifestyle requirements.

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

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Pat Buchanan - What did our wars win?

"He ended one war and kept us out of any other," is the tribute paid President Eisenhower.

Ike ended the Korean conflict in 1953, refused to intervene to save the French at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, and, rather than back the British-French-Israeli invasion, ordered them all out of Egypt in 1956.

Ending America longest wars may prove to be Barack Obama's legacy.

For, while ending wars without victory may not garner from the historians' the accolade of "great" or "near great," it is sometimes the duty of a president who has inherited a war the nation no longer wishes to fight. That was Nixon's fate, as well as Ike's, and Obama's.

And as we look back at our interventions in the 21st century, where are the gains of all our fighting, bleeding and dying? We know the costs — 8,000 dead, 40,000 wounded, $2 trillion in wealth sunk. But where are the benefits?

After Moammar Gadhafi fell in Libya, the mercenaries he had hired returned to Mali. The French had to intervene. In Benghazi, the city we started the war to save, a U.S. ambassador and three Americans would be murdered by terrorists.

Libya today appears to be breaking apart.

While Gadhafi was dreadful, what threat was he to us, especially after he had surrendered his weapons of mass destruction?

In Egypt, we helped overthrow President Hosni Mubarak and hailed the election of the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammad Morsi. A year later, we green-lighted Morsi's overthrow by Mubarak's army. Terrorism has returned to Egypt, the Sinai is now a no man's land, and almost all Egypt hates us now.

The Shia regime we brought to power in Iraq has so repressed the Sunnis that Anbar province is now hosting al-Qaida. Fallujah and Ramadi have fallen. President Nuri al-Maliki is asking for U.S. weapons to retrieve Anbar and for U.S. personnel to train his soldiers.

Unlike the bad, old Iraq, the new Iraq tilts to Tehran.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign a status of forces agreement giving our troops legal protections if they remain. This could cause a complete U.S. pullout in 2014, leading to the return of the Taliban we drove out in 2001.

Sunday saw terrorism in the heart of Kabul, with a restaurant favored by foreign officials targeted by a car bomb, followed by a machine-gunning of dining patrons in which 21 were killed.

Americans have fought bravely there for a dozen years. But how has our nation building in the Hindu Kush benefited the good old USA?
Pakistan, with nuclear weapons, has become a haven of the Taliban, perhaps the most dangerous country on earth. Anti-American elements in the Khyber region have, because of our drone attacks, been blocking a U.S. troop exodus to the sea.

How enduring is what we accomplished in Afghanistan? Last summer, Obama, goaded by democracy crusaders and the War Party, was about to launch strikes on Syria when America arose as one to call a halt.

We did not attack Syria. Had we, we would have struck a blow for an insurgency dominated by the al-Nusra Front and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The ISIS goal? Detach Anbar from Iraq and unite it with jihadist-occupied sectors of Syria in a new caliphate. Can we not see that Bashar Assad's worst enemies are ours as well?

Syria's civil war, which has cost 100,000 dead, with millions uprooted and a million in exile, has spilled over into Lebanon, where Hezbollah backs Assad and the Sunnis back the rebels. The neoconservatives say much of this might have been averted, had we left a stronger contingent of U.S. troops in Iraq and supported the Syrian uprising before the jihadists took control. They were for attacking Assad last summer, are for more severe sanctions on Iran now, and are for war if Iran does not give up all enrichment of uranium. But the neocons have broken their pick with the people. For they have been wrong about just about everything.

They were wrong about Saddam's WMD and a "cakewalk" war.

They were wrong about how welcome we would be in Iraq and how Baghdad would become a flourishing democracy and model for the Mideast.

They did not see the Sunni-Shia war our intervention would ignite.

They were wrong about how our interests would be served in attacking Libya.

They did not see the disaster that would unfold in Pakistan.

While we did not follow their advice and attack Syria, how have we suffered from having taken a pass on Syria's civil-sectarian war?

From Libya to Lebanon, Syria to Yemen, Iraq to Afghanistan, the Maghreb and Middle East are aflame. What have we lost by getting out of the wars Obama found us in? How would we benefit from parachuting back into the middle of the fire?

Which raises a related question: Was Obama wrong in extricating us from the wars into which George W. Bush plunged his country?

How will history answer that one?

(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

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