GILFORD – When a home buyer had trouble securing a government-insured loan for the property he was purchasing because the windows needed repair, his Realtor, Shawn Bailey, did the patching and painting.

Bailey also dismantled and disposed of a 30-foot dock on a property another buyer was purchasing so the closing would not be delayed. “I keep people from losing their minds,” he said with a laugh. “It can be really tough.”

For the past 14 years, Bailey has brought a combination of experience, grit and heart to the buyers and sellers he represents. Known for his gentle demeanor, he brings a “no-pressure” mentality to the competitive market of real estate in the Lakes Region.

Bailey represents buyers and sellers with Berkshire Hathaway Verani Realty in Belmont. Like other busy Realtors, he works well over 40 hours – at all hours of the day, seven days a week.

He also represents buyers and sellers from all walks of life – with all levels of income. He has brokered deals on multi-million-dollar lake homes and a castle in Gilford, as well as residential and commercial properties of varying values across Belknap County. “I’m caring, ethical and honest. I’m passionate and knowledgeable about the Lakes Region of New Hampshire,” he said. “That’s what my success is attributed to.”

Bailey was in the heavy-duty truck and auto transportation industry prior to his real estate career, driving, performing fleet maintenance and sales. Just after the new millennium, he turned to real estate, getting licensed in 2005. “I enjoy representing buyers and sellers, consulting and guiding them through a transaction to ensure the experience is rewarding and as stress-free as possible.”

Since moving to the area in 2000, Bailey has kept a boat at Spinnaker Cove Yacht Club on Lake Winnipesaukee, and he’s docked on Winnisquam as well. “This boating experience gives me insight into all the Lakes Region has to offer and its miles of shoreline,” Bailey said, noting he can pass this expertise on to buyers and sellers. “I’m competent and serious about selling lakefront properties.”

Market trends

When Bailey came into real estate, the market had begun a decline that accelerated with the economic crash in 2008 and gradually improved. Now, home prices have recovered, enabling sellers the possibility of meeting their financial obligations while also gaining available equity.

Buyers, on the other hand, are now paying more for a property, Bailey said. “This does not mean a buyer won’t gain equity in their home if market trends continue to rise,” he added. “Real estate is all about timing. Buying low and selling high is not always an option for someone needing a place to live, relocating or selling for personal reasons. Buyers can still purchase property at a fair price and take advantage of attractive interest rates and loan products.”

Data on the website for the New Hampshire Realtors shows that the median sales price for a home in Belknap County was $127,500 in 1998, up to $270,000 in 2005; it is now at $266,450, up 2.5 percent since June 2018.

The organization for buyers, sellers and Realtors, headed by Paul Griffin as executive vice president, also notes that sales volume for the past year is at $41 million, up 5.2 percent from last year. 

In 2013, a colleague referred Bailey to the then-owner of the Kimball Castle on Lockes Hill in Gilford, who came on as a client. Bailey said the property went on the market for over $1 million, and the current owners, Patrick and Melissa Starkey, said they bought it for $562,500 in September 2018, about five years after it was listed.

Completed in 1899, the castle was once owned by railroad magnate Benjamin Kimball of Concord, who died in 1920 and left the property to his daughter-in-law, Charlotte Kimball. Charlotte Kimball lived in the castle until her death in 1960, and the castle has been vacant since.

With debris and graffiti on the walls, and minimal maintenance for roughly a half century, Bailey said the castle’s condition made it a hard sell. He was looking for a buyer with resources and a passion for local history.

“I was excited to be contacted by the couple who bought it,” he added. “They were very passionate and excited to own it, to preserve some of its history.”

The Starkeys, of Loudon, said they have since put a new, historically-accurate roof on the gazebo on the property and renovated the innkeeper’s house so that it holds three rooms for overnight accommodation. Their hope is to use the property as a venue for weddings and other celebrations beginning in spring 2020. Capacity will be 200 guests.

The gazebo can be used for ceremonies, for instance, and events can take place under a tent they will erect; guests of honor can choose to sleep in the innkeeper’s house.

The Starkeys are in the process of gaining permission from the Planning Board to use Lockes Hill Road as an access road to the venue. 

Work on the castle is a long-term project, Melissa Starkey said. “It’s a stunning property overlooking Winnipesaukee,” she said. “We’ll be clearing more trees to widen the view to 180 degrees. It’s a special place. 

“We’ve been pleased with the overwhelming support from people in the community,” Patrick Starkey said. “We’re happy with feedback we’ve received. There’s definitely a lot of support behind us, and we are happy about that!”

The Starkeys own Starkey Real Estate and represented Lockes Hill LLC as the buyers in the castle deal.

In five years, Bailey showed the property to roughly 50 parties.

The owners of Kimball Castle in Gilford, who are working to renovate the majestic structure they purchased in 2018, ask that the public respect posted “No Trespassing” signs.

“Give us time,” said co-owner Patrick Starkey, noting that 44 arrests for trespassing and breaking and entering have been made on the property in recent months. “It’s a safety concern. This is an active renovation site.”

Both Starkey and his wife, Melissa Starkey, are excited to open the property as an event venue, hopefully in the spring of 2020, but, at this time, they want to protect the public while work is ongoing. “We look forward to being able to share it,” Melissa Starkey said.

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