The main focus of this blog will be to offer a personal perspective on southern New Hampshire with with various tangents about real estate, observations, local updates and personal favorites of every kind. What gives me the right to offer my views and observations in a public forum like this? Well as the venerable Ronald Reagan once said, "I'm paying for this blog," or something to that effect. And as someone who was born and raised in Windham New Hampshire I have a long history with the area. Hopefully you will find what is written here both informative and more than a little entertaining.
I AM A CHILD OF THE SEVENTIES
While I was born in the late fifties and count myself among the vast baby boomer horde that overtook and transformed America, my coming of age was in the seventies. It was a haze of Pink Floyd, Eagles and Earth Windham and Fire in a time when inflation was rampant, a huge energy crisis persisted and all of America was in a huge group funk. My first car was a 1974 Mustang II fastback. Oh, let me step back, my first car was a parent hand-me-down, a 1971 Oldsmobile 98 "land boat." Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your perspective) it blew up in a massive fireball on the side of the road when it was being returned from being serviced. My Dad had to leap from the car but I got a new Mustang out of the deal. The 1974 Mustang II was the model that destroyed the original concept of the over powered muscle car and turned it into little more than a souped up Pinto because of the oil embargo and the energy crisis. In spite of its limitations, I did get the car to move out on many occasions. One time in West Virginia that little car saved my life. You see two of my college fraternity brothers and myself were escaping the Three Mile Island Nuclear meltdown. I was attending Dickinson College, in Pensylvania, in 1979 which was a few miles away. We stoppped at a bar to make a phone call in West Virginia to tell our parents we were safe and sound. Well the locals didn't like the presence of a Mustang II with New Hampshire plates in their territory. Thus began a five mile ride of terror being chased by a car full of drunk locals brandishing a rifle out their window pointed at us. Just as we were approaching the interstate and safety I lost control of the car and we did a 360 degree spin and stalled on the side of the road. The upstanding local citizenry was pouring out of their car in our direction with evil intent when I turned the key on the ignition and that beautiful little car started right up and we were able to leave our pursuers in the dust. Anyway, we lived to tell the story or our own personal "deliverance."
NOW THAT I'VE GOT YOUR ATTENTION, WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH REAL ESTATE?
Now that I've got your attention, you might wonder where this is all leading to on a real estate web site. Well it it is all carefully crafted to introduce you to the fact that I got my New Hampshire real estate license in 1978 and sold my first house that summer while still in college. My family and I started a local real estate company that year which is now Prudential Dinsmore Associates, REALTORS. While doing something for a long time can make you nothing more than an old hack, in my case, it offers a lot of perspective on the real estate market. To often we become focused on the part of history we are travelling through and that blinds us to the bigger picture.
This first house I sold in the summer of 1978 was a little 3 bedroom split-entry for $42,900. The mortgage interest rate was 9.5%. Right now it would be worth about $220,000 or five times more in value. If a person had bought a house and stayed in it for 30 years and paid off the mortgage over that time, in addition to the tax breaks they would have a free and clear asset that had increased in value by five times. All while providing a good place to live and enjoy life.
The seventies and early eighties were troubled times. Interest rates rose to as high as 18%. Those people who had the courage to buy when interest rates seemed totally intolerable did very well on their real estate investments. In the late seventies into the early eighties building lots in Windham NH sold for between $15,000 and $20,000. Today, they are worth $150,000 to $200,000 or ten times higher in value. In between prices went both up and down. The recession of the late 1980's into the early 1990's was especially severe in southern New Hampshire and the five largest New Hampshire banks all went bankrupt. People who had the courage to buy during that down turn did very well with their real estate investments and home purchases.
When I first started selling homes in southern New Hampshire people moving from out of state were amazed that many houses had only a one stall garage and did not have central air. Granite counters had not even been imagined at the time. While the real estate market always changes over time it has offered long term stability and financial rewards, especially to those who could muster the courage to buy in bad times. Nothing remains static for long.
IS NOW THE TIME TO BUY?
There is no question that times are tough for some, and this is not a time to buy a house if you are unsure about your job, but if you have some job security and the means to afford a reasonable house payment, housing affordability has never been better. Interest rates are low and home prices are incredible in southern NH. As I said before, nothing remains static and nobody can predict the future, however, there is a possibility that interest rates could rise in the future as the demands of government financing pushes up rates. If inflation starts to head higher keeping your assets in cash will be a poor choice. So while doing nothing might seem like the safe choice, it just might be the most dangerous. Kind of like leaving the scene of a nuclear power plant meltdown only to end up being pursued by armed rednecks. Well you get the idea.
Thats all for now...