That’s how quick, on average, single-family homes in Rockingham County sold last month after being listed on the market, according to the New Hampshire Association of Realtors.
And that days-on the-market number seems conservative to local real estate agents.
Pam Gray, a real estate agent with RE/MAX Shoreline in Portsmouth, said in her territory, homes seem to be flying off the market at a pace even quicker than that.
“That sounds like a long time right here in this market,” she said of the NHAR’s monthly report.
That was the case for Chris Saettel, a longtime Air Force pilot with property in Portsmouth. He and his family’s home sale was finalized in less than a week’s time. After being stationed at Pease beginning in 2014, Saettel was transferred to work in Washington D.C., so he and his family now reside in Alexandria, Virginia.
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In 2017, when they moved south from their 188 Buckminster Way home – a three-bedroom colonial with a brick walkway and a back deck perched over 1.26 acres – they rented out the home to a family of four. When the renters decided to move this year, the Saettel’s decided to list the home through Keller Williams Coastal Realty for $699,900.
The open house occurred June 20 and, after receiving multiple offers, Saettel said his family has since accepted an offer of $725,000 to sell the home.
“Portsmouth has taken off more so than many other areas, I was just fortunate to have been patient there is what it comes down to,” he said.
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Fond of “Zillow perusing,” Saettel said he enjoys keeping up with real estate trends. Based on the rapid sale of his Buckminster Way property and from what he’s observed on his own time, he believes potential Seacoast sellers should look to enter the current market. It’s an opportunity that he isn’t sure many people will see again for decades.
“I’m not an expert by any means, but I would say if you have the ability to sell your home I think the timing is now,” he said.
What questions should potential home sellers ask themselves to know whether this is the time for them to sell? Seacoast real estate agents offer the following suggestions:
Do I know where I’m going to live after I sell my home?
Local real estate agents agree: Arguably the most pressing question potential sellers need to ask themselves is where they’re going to live next.
With low vacancies across the Seacoast and a quick turnaround on homes being listed and sold, single-family home options are scarce and quickly changing hands.
Hillary Barrett, a Realtor with Carey & Giampa Realtors in downtown Portsmouth, said figuring out the right time for a potential home seller to list their home is not a one-size-fits-all decision.
The current cycle of high demand in the sought-after Seacoast, mixed with “favorable” loan interest rates for home purchases and the matter of limited vacancies have put buyers, she said, in the “tough position of oftentimes paying much more than the listing price.” This trend, she added, is eliminating many first-time homebuyers from the market sweepstakes.
On the flip side, sellers are feeling the heat as to where they will pack up and move to. With limited options and rising costs, Barrett said some sellers are holding off.
“The right time to sell is very personal and will be different for everyone. Many sellers will need to buy something else to live in, and with escalating prices and low inventory many have just decided to wait,” she said.
Not all home sales are anticipated to happen so fast, like the $19.5 million property being sold on Lake Winnipesaukee that’s overseen by Bean Group realtor Jamieson Duston, for example.
“We’re not expecting this to go in the first week, no multiple offers,” he said.
However, he said another property he’s selling — a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Dover with a barn on 0.60-acres — will likely be listed soon for around $650,000. He’s confident the showings will be packed with hopeful buyers and that multiple offers will be made within days of it popping up on the market.
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In some sales, Gray is seeing certain contingencies added to the sales agreement about the sellers requiring a particular period of time before they leave their home.
“So when their home goes under agreement, they negotiate with the buyers to give themselves a certain number of days to find a home to buy or other alternative housing,” she said.
With such intense demand for homes, Duston said it’s even more imperative for sellers to have plans on where they’ll be residing once they sell their home. Doing otherwise, he said, is like putting the cart before the horse.
“Planning where you’re going to go is frankly the first step in selling,” he said.
Should I rent after I sell?
Renting for a time after selling a home may be a strategy until the market slows, Duston said. The strategy, though, may not be for everybody.
With his own family, he knows he would face difficulty finding a rental option that would accommodate his four children, all of whom are under 11 years old. The same challenges could be met by anyone with multiple pets or similar circumstances, he said.
On the other hand, a retired couple looking to downsize from their family home of 30 years that simply cannot find a new home in the competitive market might find better luck in the rental game.
For them, perhaps renting at spots like Portwalk Place in Portsmouth or Orpheum Apartments in Dover could be feasible if they have the means to afford it.
“Truly, it does make sense for some people to rent in some situations until the market softens a little bit,” Duston said.
That’s if you can find any rental units available, said Barrett.
“Rentals are just as hot as sales so sellers who may want to rent after they sell are also having a hard time. This cycle has created fewer homes on the market,” she said.
Gray recalled a recent client of hers who, after selling, decided to build a new house but rented while the new home was being constructed. Though her client only needed to stay in the rental unit for approximately six or seven months, they had to pay for a yearlong lease.
“That’s probably a very good strategy if you can find something to rent, which is very tough to do right now,” Gray said.
Should I renovate my home now or factor it into the listing price?
In previous real estate cycles, Gray said buyers used to be a lot more picky about particular factors of a home, such as the color of a carpet. Nowadays, though, such matters are some of the last things buyers are worrying about.
Demand has changed the current pace of the game, she said. “It doesn’t matter as much. If you have a 1960s house that looks 1960, well, it’s like, if you tear down all the flowery wallpaper, you’ve still got an old fashioned kitchen and maybe it doesn’t have a dishwasher or whatever, again buyers will still want it.”
That doesn’t mean sellers should outright avoid renovations or home inspections, she said, particularly if a buyer intends to have an inspection completed themselves.
With the current lightning speed of home sales in the Seacoast, Duston said some buyers are looking to beat the competition by offering to drop home inspections altogether.
“As an agent that represents buyers, that’s a scary thing,” he said.
On the flip side, Gray said her biggest tip for sellers is to have a home inspection completed themselves before listing. If a buyer finds an issue in their inspection of the home, it alters who is in control of the sale.
“If somebody doesn’t do a pre-inspection and then it goes to contract and the buyer does an inspection and finds the roof needs to be replaced, now the buyer’s in the driver’s seat instead of the seller,” she said.
Duston said that if a seller has knowledge of potential issues with their home but doesn’t intend to fix them, the information should be put into the property disclosure so potentially interested buyers are aware.
Better yet, they could solve those problems before they intend to vacate the space, especially as Duston has seen the difficulties in hiring tradespeople to complete the work, as they’ve seen their schedules back up.
“If you know you’ve got some things that need to be done, take a week or two and take care of those items,” he said.
How can I effectively market my home?
First and foremost, agents agree that the best way for sellers to get the most out of their listing is by hiring a real estate agent and avoiding trying to sell it themselves – even if trends show houses will go quickly.
“More than ever, buyers and sellers need an experienced, professional Realtor to help navigate this market,” Barrett said. “It is certainly one of the craziest markets we have seen in a long time.”
Otherwise, lacking a local expertise and someone with an eye on the immediate market could lead to some sellers pricing their homes incorrectly, Duston said.
“Not hiring a real estate agent puts you at a disadvantage,” he said.
In many instances, sellers who aim to navigate the listing process without help from a Realtor often jack up the price higher than what it should be, he added. Last week, however, Duston and a client went to view a showing for a Seacoast home listed at $2.5 million, and the opposite occurred. Both he and his client found the property was “significantly underpriced,” and Duston said it likely should have been listed at $3.5 million to start.
“I am certain had she hired a competent agent, they would have done the research and really understood what the market for that property was,” he said of the seller.
It’s also important to not just settle on an agent, Duston noted. Prospective sellers should test the waters and evaluate local agents before choosing which one is best, and should avoid familiar faces like a seller’s “cousin Ricky,” he quipped.
“Don’t just go with the agent by lowest commission, base it on who is the right person for the job,” he said.
With sellers unable to change the location of their homes, Duston added that staging before showings is crucial to distinguish a property from others. That, and high-end photos of the interior and exterior are paramount to capturing potential buyers’ attention.
“Generally speaking, if you had two homes in the same neighborhood and one of them was well-decorated and well-staged, if you will, and photo ready, versus one that maybe just looked a little blasé, not as well-staged, that is going to make the difference,” he said.
How long will the seller’s market last?
Gray wishes she had a crystal ball to look into the future. From what she’s observed and what she’s read, she believes it could be two years before the tides change in the current market.
“I’ve been doing this for over 30 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” she said.
Duston’s prediction is that this fall, between Halloween and before Christmas, the market will slow for a time but will soon pick back up again next year. Things change so quickly from one month to the next, he said, that something priced at $1 million or $2 million now could be listed higher or lower next month – most likely higher.
“First of all, anyone that says they know when it’s going to end is lying,” he stated.
The Seacoast Board of Realtors pulls data from 13 local municipalities – Exeter, Greenland, Hampton, Hampton Falls, New Castle, Newfields, Newington, North Hampton, Newmarket, Portsmouth, Rye, Seabrook, and Stratham. Last month, with 88 sales of single-family homes in the local communities, 15 of which sold for at least $1 million, an all-time monthly record was set with a median home sale price of $625,000.
The median price for condo sales in May – 81 in all – came in at $390,000. April, however, also saw an all-time monthly record with the median price for condos reaching $459,100.
Asked how long she believes sellers will control the market and high costs of home sales might continue on, Barrett was uncertain of any potential timeline.
“That’s anyone’s guess, but as long as interest rates and inventory stay low, it will be a seller’s market,” she said.