Roche Realty reports sales in excess of $126-million for 2015.

By Frank Roche

Roche Realty Group Inc. is proud to report sales volume in excess of $126 million for the 12 months ending Dec. 31, 2015. The firm experienced an increase of 42 percent in sales volume compared to the previous year. The company had a total of 485 transaction sides. The sales of $126 million represents our second highest year in total sales volume in the company's 24-year history.
I attribute this exceptional year to all our real estate agents and our dedicated support and marketing staff. Their commitment to superior service and their hard work, day-in and day-out, certainly made things happen. The company averaged $2.43 million in sales volume per week during the 12-month period in 2015.
Since 1997 Roche Realty Group has sold over $1.66 billion of New Hampshire properties, involving 6,223 transaction sides, and has ranked in the top 10 real estate firms in the entire state of New Hampshire out of 2,247 firms statewide reporting sales during this 19-year period.
The company produced a very strong showing in 2015 in waterfront sales on many of the lakes throughout the Lakes Region. Likewise, the semi-retirement and second home markets also produced strong results with a large number of cash transactions fueled by a recovering economy. Communities such as South Down Shores, Long Bay, Natures View, Samoset, Misty Harbor, Patrician Shores and other water access communities throughout the region showed exceptional activity.
As a 39-year veteran of Lakes Region real estate, I'm proud the company has continued to maintain a group of very knowledgeable and experienced real estate agents. We've also been fortunate to have several younger associates join our firm who have had an exceptional year. I'm particularly proud that the firm has grown consistently on its own, unaffiliated with any major real estate companies or franchises. We always want to stay a local, family-owned, independent firm.
This year we invested a significant amount to improve our worldwide Internet exposure. We've continually upgraded our website, www.rocherealty.com, our Internet optimization and our marketing presence on approximately 80 national and international websites. Through our worldwide connections with LuxuryRealEstate.com, LuxuryHomes.com and other portals we've increased our market reach immensely; www.rocherealty.com is one the most visited websites in the Lakes Region.
When you consider that 2004 was the record year in New Hampshire for sales volume in its history, and Roche Realty Group sold a record $131 million that year, we're not far behind at $126 million this year. It's been a slow, steady recovery and all of us are so grateful that the Lakes Region is a true four-season community with so much to offer.


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

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Visiting a scene of devastation

By Gordon DuBois

On Aug. 15, 2011, a tropical depression exited off the North African coast. Over several days it gained strength, and emerged near the North American coastline as a tropical depression and was later upgraded to a hurricane named Irene. Irene approached the Outer Banks of North Carolina and slowly progressed up the eastern seaboard, moving into Vermont and New Hampshire on Aug. 29, when it was downgraded to an extra tropical depression. However, even though Irene weakened, it remained a powerful storm with sustained winds of up to 50 mph and dumping more than 11 inches of rain in the White Mountains.

This massive amount of rain caused tremendous damage to roads and bridges throughout the state, especially in the White Mountain National Forest, where many trails and roads were obliterated. Gov. Lynch declared a state of emergency. The storm caused over $10 million worth of damage to the White Mountain National Forest. The aftermath of Irene is legendary and the scars caused by this storm can still be seen today.

A few weeks ago, with hiking partners Dave Unger and Fran Maineri and, of course, Reuben, we visited one of the vestiges of Irene, a slide on the west facing slope of the ridge running between Hancock Mountain and its trailless neighbor, NW Hancock. I have climbed Hancock several times, but the main goal this time was to summit NW Hancock, a seldom-climbed peak that can only be reached by bushwhacking a mile along the ridge connecting the two mountains.

Our route would take us along the Hancock Notch Trail to the Cedar Brook Trail and then to the Hancock Loop Trail, which would bring us to the summit of Mt. Hancock. From here we would bushwhack, following a north westerly track, along the ridge to the summit of NW Hancock.

We then planned to hike down the western side of the ridge, following the slide created by Irene, and eventually back to the Cedar Brook trail that would bring us back to our waiting vehicle.

We began our hike at 7 a.m., knowing we would most likely be hiking out of the woods well past nightfall. We followed our planned route arriving at the summit of Hancock, stopping to grab a snack and admiring the limited view. We changed into our shells, knowing that the bushwhack would be wet with melting snow falling from the scrub pines we had to plow through.

Following our short break, we dove into the woods following a herd path a short distance which disappeared after only a few minutes of hiking. We broke out the compasses and pushed on toward our mountain destination. It I took us almost two hours to cross the 1-mile ridge, where we found the canister that marks the summit of NW Hancock.

We lingered for a while, signing the register, eating lunch and discussing our climb down the ridge, to the infamous slide. Fran, Dave and I followed our track back along the ridge to where we thought the slide would be found below. We made our way through thick woods and blow downs, until we reached the top of the slide.

It appeared to us as a clearing, until Fran took one too many steps and found himself falling into the ravine which marked the upper most part of the slide. This is where the deluge from Irene hit the side of the mountain and was then funneled down through this narrow ravine, opening a huge swath of rock and gravel.

We were awestruck by the size of the gouge in the side of the mountain. The immense force of the wall of water rushing down the mountain side caused whole trees, boulders, gravel to wash down the ridge. As we began our decent, sliding and slipping on the loose scree and rock, we found ourselves in a canyon of destruction.  A section of the mountain had been wiped out in a matter of a few hours by the heavy rain. The terrain had been permanently altered. It is now a barren slope of gravel and rock.

We did notice that the woodland was attempting a comeback. Small trees and grasses were inching their way into the chasm of the slide. We stopped often to marvel at the destruction caused by Irene, amazed at the force of water as it charged down the mountain, permanently changing the topography. However, our gazing had to be limited as time was running short and sunset was approaching. We didn’t want to be on the slide trying to scramble along in the darkness with only our headlamps to light our way.

We did succeed in making it to the Cedar Brook trail before total darkness enveloped us. Once on the trail, we strapped on our head lamps and started our 4-mile trek back to the car.

It was another rewarding hike, finding the summit of NW Hancock, a seldom climbed summit, and then climbing down the slide of NW Hancock that Irene created.

 

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 VT, The International AT in Quebec, Canada, Cohos Trail in northern NH and the John Muir Trail in CA. 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. He especially enjoys hiking in the Lakes Region due to the proximity of his home in New Hampton. He is also a trail maintainer for the BRATTS (Belknap Range Trail Tenders) and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Lakes Region Profiles — Wolfeboro through different eyes

Many famous people have owned beautiful homes and estates in Wolfeboro over the years. One of the most interesting was Chiang Kai-shek. He was a Chinese political leader and a major figure in Chinese history from 1927 to 1948. His wife, Soong Mei-ling, often called Madame Chiang Kai-shek, was also prominent in the world scene. Time Magazine named the couple "Man and Woman of the Year" in 1938. In his "New Hampshire Commentary" blog, Dean Dexter says the couple "were what Tracy and Hepburn were to the movies of that era, or what Franklin and Eleanor were to a nation working itself out of the Great Depression."

According to Nick Liptak's article in The New Yorker, Madame Kai-shek maintained an estate in Wolfeboro until her death in 2003. When she visited, she frequented the antique shops flanked by Chinese bodyguards. She was known to often play hostess to movie star Debra Paget and New Hampshire Sen. Styles Bridges. Why is this so interesting? For one simple reason — here you have well-known figures from the other side of the world who chose to buy an estate in, of all places, Wolfeboro.

Over the years, other famous people have owned houses in Wolfeboro — people such as Mitt Romney, who had the means to choose properties anywhere. In fact, Wolfeboro has become known for the celebrities it draws, from world and political leaders such as former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Monaco's Prince Rainier and Princess Grace; to author Kurt Vonnegut; to myriad movie stars including Paul Newman, Farah Fawcett, Jack Lemmon, Sophia Loren, Jane and Henry Fonda, Drew Barrymore, Kirk Douglas, Jimmy Fallon, Dustin Hoffman and many more. Maybe these people saw the same things the Kai-sheks saw. Maybe they saw the same things I see when I drive through Wolfeboro with my clients.

I recently sold a home to a couple moving to New Hampshire from the south. They visited Wolfeboro and three weeks later bought a house. As I took them through the main street, they instantly fell in love with the town. The best way to see a place you are familiar with is through the eyes of an outsider. When we show someone else the best parts of where we live, we truly begin to appreciate them ourselves. Pointing to the beauty of the unspoiled surroundings and the quaint town, Wolfeboro looks every bit as charming as Malton in North Yorkshire, England, the town which inspired Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol." When I drove through downtown with my southern clients, they were greeted by the enormous Christmas tree in front of Black's Paper & Gifts. Classic wreaths and swags, ribbons and bows adorned the storefronts. Behind multi-pane store windows sparkled lively and colorful holiday displays. All the houses in downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods were decked with traditional Christmas garlands, festoons and lights.

Wolfeboro traces its history back to 1759 and many are familiar with its claim to be the oldest summer resort in America. It is a classic New England town. The meticulous grounds of Brewster Academy greet you as you drive in from the east. Apart from being a well-respected preparatory school with students from more than 20 countries, Brewster is the site for numerous Gordon Research Conferences, prestigious international meetings for scientists.

Wolfeboro has no big box stores, franchises or tacky fluorescent signs. The main street is dotted with bookstores, art galleries, cafés, pubs, bistros, and restaurants. There are unique shops, some with local products, including Kalled Gallery, Wolfeboro Casuals, Hampshire Pewter, Back Bay Clothing, The Art Place and many more.

The backdrop for Main Street is Lake Winnipesaukee. Picturesque town docks allow boating visitors from all points on the lake to enjoy downtown. On any day in the summer, you will see all types of boats lined up. Getting an ice cream at Bailey's Bubble on the docks is a long-standing tradition. The Wolfeboro Community Bandstand, located in Cate Park on the shores of the lake, provides music under the stars on Saturday evenings in the summer. At the Kingswood Arts Center, the nonprofit Great Waters Music Festival, founded in 1995 by Dr. Gerald Mack, brings together professional and amateur musicians and offers a varied program of musical styles. The award-winning Klickety-Klack Railroad is a model railroad and hobby shop. It has been featured in Yankee Magazine and WMUR-TV and has more than 70 trains that visitors can operate themselves. The Wright Museum of World War II received five star ratings and the 2015 Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor. For more than 20 years, this museum has impressed and moved visitors with its display of tanks, model aircraft carriers, exhibits about life in the military, and WWII paraphernalia. Wolfeboro Inn is an enchanting stay overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee, and it delights its guests with a quintessential lodging experience. It also houses Wolfe's Tavern, which is one of the only authentic New England pubs in the Lakes Region.

For a small town in central New Hampshire, Wolfeboro has much to offer residents and visitors alike. Though Wolfeboro properties can certainly draw big numbers, particularly for the choicest waterfront locations, in reality the town is a place everyone can enjoy. In 2015, the average selling price for a home in Wolfeboro was $259,781. The former Kai-shek estate was situated on a stretch of shore that was redeveloped under the name Embassy Estates, which today is considered one of the best neighborhoods in Wolfeboro. Current homes for sale in this neighborhood range from $459,000 to nearly $5 million. As a point of interest, the estate President Sarkozy stayed in sold last year for $8,979,000. This 17,000-square-foot manor included a three-bay boat house, 7 acres, and 645 feet of shorefront.

As a real estate agent, I am constantly traveling along the same roads throughout the Lakes Region. A common phenomenon could occur if I let it: an indifference to the beauty surrounding me as I drift down the road. I could miss the expansive views of lakes and mountains, ever-changing foliage, quaint New England towns and homes, and glimpses of wildlife. The next time you travel along accustomed routes, remember to take the time to see the passing scenes through the eyes of an outsider – the Kai-sheks, Romneys, and the rest. You may have a change in your perspective of those familiar places.


Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com 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 and Laconia, New Hampshire and can be reached at 366-6306. www.rocherealty.com.

 

 

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Pat Buchanan - Is the Western world disintegrating?

On Jan. 1, 2002, the day that euro coins and banknotes entered into circulation, my column, "Say Goodbye to the Mother Continent," contained this pessimistic prognosis: "This European superstate will not endure, but break apart on the barrier reef of nationalism. For when the hard times come, patriots will recapture control of their national destinies from Brussels bureaucrats to whom no one will ever give loyalty or love."

The column described what was already happening.

"Europe is dying. There is not a single nation in all of Europe with a birth rate sufficient to keep its population alive, except Muslim Albania. In 17 European nations, there are already more burials than births, more coffins than cradles.

"Between 2000 and 2050, Asia, Africa and Latin America will add 3 billion to 4 billion people — 30 to 40 new Mexicos! — as Europe loses the equal of the entire population of Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Germany.

"By 2050, the median age in Europe will be 50, nine years older than the oldest nation on earth today, Japan. One in 10 Europeans will be over 80. And who will take care of these scores of millions of elderly, before the Dutch doctors arrive at the nursing home?

"Immigrants is the answer, immigrants already pouring into Europe in the hundreds of thousands annually from the Middle East and Africa, changing the character of the Old Continent. Just as Europe once invaded and colonized Asia, Africa and the Near East, the once-subject peoples are coming to colonize the mother countries. And as the Christian churches of Europe empty out, the mosques are going up.

"Yet, even as great nations like France, Germany, Italy and Spain grow weary of the strain of staying independent, sovereign and free, the sub-nations within are struggling to be born again. In Scotland, Wales, Ulster, Corsica, the Basque country and northern Italy are secessionist movements not unlike those that broke up Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union into 24 independent nations."

What was predicted, 14 years ago, has come to pass.

Migrants into Germany from the Middle and Near East reached 1 million in 2015. EU bribes to the Turks to keep Muslim migrants from crossing over to the Greek islands, thence into the Balkans and Central Europe, are unlikely to stop the flood.

My prediction that European "patriots will recapture control of their national destinies," looks even more probable today.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who almost lost a referendum on Scottish secession, is demanding a return of British sovereignty from the EU sufficient to satisfy his countrymen, who have been promised a vote on whether to abandon the European Union altogether.

Marine Le Pen's anti-EU National Front ran first in the first round of the 2015 French elections. Many Europeans believe she will make it into the final round of the next presidential election in 2017.
Anti-immigrant, right-wing parties are making strides all across Europe, as the EU is bedeviled by a host of crises.

Europe's open borders that facilitate free trade also assure freedom of travel to homegrown terrorists.

Mass migration into the EU is causing member nations to put up checkpoints and close borders. The Schengen Agreement on the free movement of goods and people is being ignored or openly violated.

The economic and cultural clash between a rich northern Europe and a less affluent south — Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal — manifest in the bad blood between Athens and Berlin, endures.

Northern Europeans grow weary of repeated bailouts of a south that chafes at constant northern demands for greater austerity.

Then there is the surge of sub-nationalism, as in Scotland, Catalonia, Flanders, and Veneto, where peoples seek to disconnect from distant capitals that no longer speak for them, and reconnect with languages, traditions and cultures that give more meaning to their lives than the economics-uber-alles ideology of Frau Angela Merkel.

Moreover, the migrants entering Europe, predominantly Islamic and Third World, are not assimilating as did the European and largely Christian immigrants to America of a century ago. The enclaves of Asians in Britain, Africans and Arabs around Paris, and Turks in and around Berlin seem to be British, French and German in name only. And some of their children are now heeding the call to jihad against the Crusaders invading Muslim lands.

The movement toward deeper European integration appears to have halted, and gone into reverse, as the EU seems to be unraveling along ideological, national, tribal and historic lines.

If these trends continue, and they seem to have accelerated in 2015, the idea of a United States of Europe dies, and with it the EU.

And this raises a question about the most successful economic and political union in history — the USA.

How does an increasingly multiracial, multiethnic, multilingual, multicultural United States avoid the fate to which Europe appears to be headed, when there is no identifiable racial or ethnic majority here in 2042?

Are our own political and racial divisions disappearing, or do they, too, seem to be deepening?

(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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Sanborn — Christmas houses

There are many great movies that include Christmas as part of their story line. The homes that these stories take place in are integral to the plot and have become memorable themselves. One of the most famous homes is the Griswold's house in Christmas Vacation. This home looks like it could be on Edwards Street in Laconia but is actually located on Blondie Street in the Warner Brothers Studio in Burbank, California. The house has been used in a variety of films over the years and has been remodeled so many times that you would scarcely recognize it today.

Christmas Vacation celebrates Christmas and Chevy Chases's Clark Griswold quest to provide the perfect Christmas day in the perfectly decorated home. Clark and son Rusty spend day and night decorating the exterior of the home with thousands of lights only to find they won't work. Been there, done that? This hilarious movie provides many tips on decorating your home safely, solving electrical problems, proper ladder usage, cleaning ice out from gutters, removing drywall, and my favorite, doing fine trim work with a chainsaw. Clark, like many of us, overextends himself during the holidays by putting money down on an in-ground pool, only to find out that his stingy boss didn't give the usual big cash year-end bonus... alas, he was enrolled in the "Jelly of the Month" club instead.

Another wonderful story is set in a typical 1,792 square foot, four bedroom, two bath home at 3159 W11th St, in Cleveland Ohio. You might not recognize the address, but if you drove by the house and saw the stunning Leg Lamp in the front window, you would know that this is Ralphie's house from the 1983 movie Christmas Story. For those deprived souls that have never seen this movie – which seems nearly impossible – this is the story about the trials and tribulations of little nine year-old bespectacled Ralphie and his younger brother, Randy, growing up back in the 1940s in the fictional town of Hohman, Indiana. More precisely, it is about Ralphie's goal of convincing the world – namely, his parents, his teacher, and Santa Claus – that a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle would be his perfect Christmas gift. Little brother Randy spends most of his time avoiding eating and falling into snowbanks. He always needs help getting up because he is stuffed in a snowsuit with too many clothes on and can hardly walk. Remember those days?

The story also touches on home maintenance. Ralphie's dad, known as Old Man Parker, has a long running battle with his coal furnace that keeps forming clinkers, rumbling and blowing back soot. He rushes to the basement, makes it two stairs, trips on some skates, and slides the rest of the way down causing a verbal assault against the malfunctioning furnace. As Ralphie puts it, "In the heat of battle, my father wove a tapestry of obscenities that, as far as we know, is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan." Perhaps a proper maintenance schedule would have been in order?

In the end, Ralphie does get the world's best Christmas present. He rushes outside for target practice wherein, predictably, the first shot ricochets back and hits his glasses, knocking them off. He panics thinking he has shot his eye out. He steps on his glasses and smashes them and then hysterically tells his mother that an icicle fell and hit him in the face. His biggest fear is that the Old Man will be mad at him and yell at him like he does at the furnace. Mom can see how distraught he is and helps cover for Ralphie with the Old Man. All is well. Noel, noel.

In December of 2004, the owner of The Red Rider Leg Lamp Company in San Diego and a lifelong fan of the film, Brian Jones, bought the house on eBay for $150,000. His company makes the replica Leg Lamp the Old Man had received as the "Major Award" from work. The previous owners had remodeled the home with modern windows and covered the original wood siding with blue vinyl siding. By watching the movie over and over, Jones was able to draw detailed plans and spent $240,000 to gut the structure and transform it to a near-replica of the movie set and restored the exterior back to the original appearance. The house is now a museum.

And, remember, home is where the holidays happen and memories are made. Other great Christmas homes from the flicks include the English cottage from 2006 film called the Holiday, with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz, which was really just an exterior façade built in the English countryside. Then there is Chevy Chase's Cape Cod home in The Funny Farm, which was also filmed in 2006. This house is real and is located in Grafton, Vermont. And, of course, you have to acknowledge the stately brick Georgian colonial from the movie Home Alone located in Winnetka, Illinois. This 4,200 square foot, four bedroom home was built in 1920 and was put on the market back in 2011 for $2.5 million and after several years in the market, finally sold for $1.585 million.

So, whether you receive a Jelly of the Month Club subscription, a Leg Lamp or the coveted Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle, remember, it really is the thought that counts.

There were 88 residential home sales in the twelve Lakes Region communities covered by this report. The average price came in at $297,347 and the median price point stood at $189,950. That's well above the 67 sales last November so it looks like we are having a well-deserved finish to an already strong year. Merry Christmas!

P​ease 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 compiled using the NNEREN MLS system as of 12/17/15. ​Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012

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