Spring has officially arrived and launches the beginning of our spring selling season for real estate in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. Buying a home can seem like a daunting process. It could possibly be the most expensive and emotionally charged purchase of your life. I’ve put together some ideas and suggestions to help you navigate through the process with the ultimate goal of making an informed real estate decision.
- Work with a reputable real estate Broker: a good experienced Realtor® will help you make sound decisions and guide you through the home buying process. Ask people you trust for referrals to a real estate professional they trust.
- Determine how much of a house you can afford: a close look at your budget and spending habits. Gather your financial records, check your credit score, and meet with a lender to obtain a prequalification letter spelling out how much you’re eligible to borrow. Perform this step first. Don’t wait until you’ve found a home and made an offer to start looking to get qualified for financing.
3. Check out neighborhoods and get to know the local market: in the Lakes Region, there’s a large selection of property types. There are primary residential neighborhoods, water access communities, waterfront properties, condominium developments, and second-home communities. So many towns and cities to consider. Research your most important necessities. Schools, commute time, recreation amenities, shopping, and price range are all factors to consider. Each town has its own vibe and appeal, so you have to prioritize your wants and needs.
4. Get online and explore what’s for sale: start researching product availability and price range. Use your favorite real estate website. It might be Realtor.com or Zillow.com. At rocherealty.com, we provide a wealth of information on the Lakes Region, from blogs to detailed information on new subdivisions, second-home communities, condominium communities, and more. It’s easy to set up alerts on these real estate websites, which are based on your criteria and can help automate some of the work.
5. Visit open houses: open houses can help you get a sense of the housing stock in the area. What’s available and at what price point? Another way to preview homes online is through 3D Matterport tours and video walkthroughs which Roche Realty Group does for every listing.
6. Be realistic about purchasing a home: try not to get blindsided by minor imperfections. Yes, it’s important to be particular about the home and neighborhood you want. Distinguishing between what’s fixable and not is a key part of house-hunting. With the proper vision, a good contractor, or a DIY approach, you can add a lot of future value. So, try to look past the blemishes and create value by looking for a home whose full potential has yet to be realized.
7. Pay special attention to the neighborhood: everyone knows the phrase “location, location, location.” Look around at the quality of neighboring properties. Are there any new development plans nearby? How busy is the traffic and noise levels? What are the zoning laws or association rules, regulations & restrictions? Have home values in the neighborhood been declining or rising? Is there a lot of undeveloped land around? Is the water quality of the lake in front of the house desirable? What are the nearby amenities?
No home is perfect. Small repairs are not worth bringing up or negotiating if you really love the home.
8. Offering too much: if there’s a lot of competition and you find a place you like, it’s all too easy to get sucked into a bidding war. Look at what the house will appraise for and make sure the purchase price for the house you buy is reasonable for both the house and the location. Study comparable sales and get your Realtor’s® opinion.
9. Always get a home inspection: I’ve seen too many instances in the past couple of years where buyers have waived their home inspection contingency to make their offer more favorable. You need to know what kind of shape the house is in. You don’t want to get stuck with a money pit or with the headache of performing a lot of unexpected expensive repairs or latent defects.
10. Be willing to negotiate: understand that making an offer on a home is the start of a psychological game. The competitive market in the Lakes Region for the past several years has made it difficult to negotiate, especially with multiple offers. Today’s higher interest rate environment will help calm the exuberance; however, the lack of available inventory and buyer demand has kept the candle glowing thus far. Try to be flexible in a competitive market. Being the first to make a solid offer can provide an edge.
11. Know the seller’s motivation: it’s always helpful to look at the deal through the seller’s eyes. Money is always a motivating factor. Time is also a motivating factor. I would also say the emotional tie the seller has to the property is another factor. Why is the seller selling? Are they having a hard time letting go or are they looking to have the deal go through quickly and painlessly as possible? Maybe they would like a special family to appreciate everything they have enjoyed over the years.
12. Here’s a few things to look for when buying a home:
- Foundation problems — the most important part of the home is what it sits on.
- Is there water in the basement or foundation?
- Any signs of water damage or are there musty odors?
- Look for evidence of mold in basements, attics, and around drains and water pipes.
- Ventilation problems without adequate interior ventilation moisture can become a breeding ground for mold.
- Does the electric panel need an upgrade?
- Are any door frames tilted?
- Is there soft wood around the sills, framing, members, or window sill? A moisture meter is a handy tool.
- Leaks around the toilet are a common problem that can result in more serious issues down the road.
- What’s under the carpet — hardwood or plywood?
- Are the roof shingles curling, missing, or covered in moss?
- Is the temperature the same in every room with the heating on?
- Poor tiling in baths or kitchens could indicate a DIY job.
- Check the windows and make sure they slide easily. Also, with wood casement windows, they tend to swell up and not close properly over time.
- Is there rust on the HV/AC, furnace, or water heater? Also, are there signs of rust in the toilets or bathtubs could be a sign of iron in the water.
- Ask for all the documentation on the septic system and artesian or dug well. These are costly items and attentive research, in the beginning, can save a lot of time.
- Review the seller’s 5-page property disclosure form with your Realtor®. It’s a critical part of the home buying process and question anything you don’t understand.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of buying a new home and some houses may come with hidden surprises; however, a little vigilance before you buy can prevent you from falling into a costly quagmire. Hopefully, the above tips will ensure you’re empowered with the tools and information to find a home that’s safe, sound, and ready to move in!
This article was written by Frank Roche. Frank is president of Roche Realty Group with offices in Meredith and Laconia, NH, and can be reached at (603) 279-7046. Sales data was compiled by a NEREN search on and is subject to change. Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market.