EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 28, 2013

Realtors: N.H. housing sales are improving

By Alex Lippa

---- — Don’t look now, but the housing market may finally start to even out.

For the 20th consecutive month, there was an increase in residential home sales in New Hampshire.

Bill Weidacher, president of the New Hampshire Association of Realtors, said the housing recovery is nearing the end.

“It’s starting to become more clear that we have gotten through the housing recovery stage,” he said. “It’s not all the way there yet, but we’re getting close.”

There were 1,637 residential sales in New Hampshire in July. That is the most the state has seen in a single month since August 2005. New listings for single-family homes were up 20 percent and the inventory decreased 25.7 percent in July.

“It’s a very good sign,” said Realtor Diana Mancuso of Keller-Williams in Londonderry. “People have been nervous the last few years and now I think people know it’s the time to buy and sell.”

At the end of July, she said, there were 98 single-family homes on the market in Salem. At the end of July 2012, there were 200.

“We’ve gotten to the point where people have needed to start making moves,” she said. “People are tired of being scared.”

Giovanni Verani, owner of Prudential Verani Realty, said he’s seen consumer confidence slowly come back.

“We are having a fabulous year,” Verani said. “I think it’s probably that elections are behind us. They’ve been told enough that this is the time to buy.”

Realtor Stephan Coufos of Coco, Early & Associates in Salem said he was surprised at the market action this spring.

“In the winter, we thought it would be an early market,” Coufos said. “We were a little skeptical that it would carry into the spring, but it carried through right into the summer.”

Realtors have been targeting first-time buyers, Weidacher said.

“It’s still a great time for them, even though the inventory has dropped,” he said. “The prices have stabilized in the last few weeks. We want them to go right into the market.”

Verani said a recent survey done by Prudential agreed with Weidacher’s assessment.

“It said that the millennials are probably the most optimistic group for the real estate economy,” he said. “They are the most interested in acquiring real estate, which is opposite of what people have been telling us in the past.”

The median price of homes in New Hampshire was $230,000 in July, compared to $207,900 last year.

Mancuso said a decrease in foreclosures throughout the state has helped as well.

“We were able to sell off some houses that were foreclosed on,” she said. “The banks have also slowed down on foreclosing as well.”

Weidacher said the market should only get better as the end of the year approaches.

“New Hampshire is 32 percent ahead of where we were last year in pending sales,” he said. “We’re in for a healthy finish for the third quarter and I’m predicting a good fourth quarter as well.”