Home market softening but prices remain high

Nov. 8—More cracks appeared in the state's housing market in October as homes sat on the market longer and 26% fewer were sold than a year ago.

"It's not like it was previously, with lightning-fast decisions" requiring buyers to put in a quick bid to beat other home shoppers, said Adam Gaudet, president of the New Hampshire Realtors.

"This week, I would say it's an even draw" between buyers and sellers in terms of who has the upper hand, said Gaudet, broker and founder of 603 Birch Realty in Concord.

In both Nashua and Manchester, a third fewer homes sold last month compared to a year earlier, according to figures from the Realtors group.

"Buyers are going in with a more discerning eye than previously," Gaudet said. "The affordability has never been lower."

Higher sales prices and interest rates that are more than double a year ago are putting a damper on sales, with 454 fewer homes sold statewide this October than a year ago. In September, that gap was less than 200.

"It's a big deal for people," said Jen Bowles, a Realtor with her own firm, Jbo Home in Manchester.

But, she said, "The demand is still high. There's still a shortage right now in people wanting to sell."

Interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.95% across the country last week. That's more than double a year ago, when the rate was 3.09%, according to Freddie Mac, a company that buys mortgages and repackages them to investors.

In another measure, the Seacoast Board of Realtors this week reported that October sales of single-family homes in its 13-community region, including Portsmouth and Exeter, fell to the lowest October level since 2011.

"It seems clear that interest rates and sales prices are having an impact on the Seacoast real estate market," said Jessica Ritchie, that board's president.

Manchester saw homes stay on the market for an average of 20 days in October, six more than a year earlier.

On the flip side, Nashua saw homes sell in 12 days, compared to 18 in October 2021.

Statewide, homes were on the market for 27 days in October, three more than a year earlier.

The median sales price in October was $426,000 statewide — $46,000 more than a year ago but down from the record high of $460,000 in May and June.

The trend of buyers waiving home inspections to get the house they want is ending, Gaudet said. Still, some properties still attract multiple offers.

Statewide, sales prices represented 99.7% of asking price in October, down from 101.5% in 2021.

In some cases, sellers are using outdated comparisons and pricing their properties too high, Gaudet said.

Those sellers "are looking at what their neighbor's sold at last year in the spring market. 'Hey, my house can get that much.' They forget their house isn't as cute as their neighbor's house or as well-maintained," he said.

People continue to move into the state, many for a new job or tax benefits.

Gaudet is working with an Alaskan family looking to relocate. The family put in an offer Tuesday on a Concord home.

"There's still plenty of buyers," Gaudet said.

mcousineau@unionleader.com