New Hampshire home sales climbing after two months of declines

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After two straight down months, home sales in New Hampshire rebounded in February setting records for the month in price and number of closed deals.

"It speaks to a seller's market," Dave Cummings, spokesman for the New Hampshire Realtors, said Monday. "The seller has leverage in the market, which they have had for several years."

The median sales price in February registered $269,900, 5.7% ahead of February 2018, when the median price was $255,450 — also a record.

Real estate agents closed 822 home sales in February, 10.3% more than a year ago. It also beat the previous February record of 816 set in 2016.

State home sales had seen two straight months of year-over-year declines in December and January, both by double-digit percentages.

Rachel Eames, past president of the New Hampshire Realtors, said she "can't pinpoint one thing" for the temporary drop other than perhaps more people than normal being distracted by the holidays.

"The biggest issue is inventory and it's ongoing," said Eames, who currently operates Eames Realty Services in Concord and Newmarket.

February numbers showed there were 14.2% fewer homes for sale than a year earlier. New listings were down 9.7%.

Every county but Merrimack and Strafford reported more homes sales this past February than in February 2018.

Hillsborough County, which includes Manchester and Nashua, saw a 10.7% bump in sales and a 14.2% jump in the median sales price, to $295,000.

Rockingham County, which boasts the highest prices, actually saw a 3.5% decrease from a year earlier. The median sales price was down $12,500 to $342,500.

Cheshire saw the biggest price gain, 30.1%, to $210,000.

Coos County saw a 57.9% gain in sales, from 19 homes in February 2018 to 30 in February 2019.

Eames said a drop in interest rates can only make the competition to buy stronger.

Rates for a 30-year fixed-rate hit a U.S. weekly average of 4.94% in November, according to Freddie Mac, a company that guarantees mortgages by buying and repacking them to investors. Rates have since fallen to 4.06% as of Thursday.

Eames recalled representing a buyer who purchased a home in Portsmouth in February after two previous buyers ran into problems prior to closing. Her buyer got the home for $505,000, slightly off the $520,000 asking price.

Eames said she has encountered multiple offers "a high percentage of the time."

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