Is Lake Region Real Estate Drying Up Like The Southwest?

Picture of author in the Grand Canyon

I just returned from a trip to Nevada, Arizona, and Utah this past week. Put lots of miles on my hiking boots and a car rental. Lots of beautiful scenery along the way; however, breakneck population growth and a mega-drought spanning two decades have created a huge water deficit along the Colorado River Basin.

Real estate development in all three states has been exploding in recent years. You can see its impact in density clusters even though these southwestern states have vast amounts of land with hundreds of miles of open plains, deserts, and mountain ranges.

At the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, the temperature registered at 105°, which explains the severe drought the region has been experiencing for 20 years. Lake Mead’s shoreline has mineralized, and the water level has fallen over the past 22 years. The lake now sits at just 27% capacity. Lake Mead is the largest manmade reservoir in the US, spanning 110 miles in Nevada and Arizona. It boasts 759 miles of shoreline, 532 feet deep, and 247 square miles of surface area when it’s at full capacity. The drought has caused the lake to drop 100′, and people in Arizona will lose 20% of their water supply from the Colorado River in 2022. Unfortunately, the lake is only 150′ away from “dead pool” status when the reservoir is so low that water cannot flow downstream from the dam.

After Lake Mead, we headed over to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The drive took us from 105° at Lake Mead to 52° at the North Rim. Spectacular scenery and breathtaking hikes starting at 8,000′. I didn’t realize the Grand Canyon is bigger than the State of Rhode Island. It’s a mile deep and is 10-18 miles wide at the North Rim. You want to make sure your shoelaces are tight and you have plenty of water. The hikes along the Rim provided lots of adrenaline, with high dropoffs reaching 1,000s of feet. I must admit I am afraid of heights.

We then headed over the plains and desert to Bryce Canyon National Park and hiked around the world’s largest collection of hoodoos. The distinctive rock formations at Bryce are fascinating. During the ride from Arizona to Utah, we saw a dried-up lake and numerous creeks and small rivers completely dried up.

Lake Powell is another manmade reservoir, the second largest in the US, experiencing similar problems like Lake Mead. The lake is 254 square miles compared to Winnipesaukee’s 71 square miles. Can you imagine the water level has dropped 100′ in the last three years alone? The lake is 25.5% of full pool for the first time in 50 years. It provides water to approximately 40 million people, irrigation to millions of acres, and generates 4,200 megawatts of hydropower. These rapidly depleting water levels due to the mega-drought and surging growth threaten the Glen Canyon Dam’s ability to generate hydropower if the lake drops by 34 more feet. The lake dropped 44′ this past year alone. Could you imagine that happening on Lake Winnipesaukee?

We then headed over to Provo, Park City, and Salt Lake City and saw explosive growth with new construction of condos, single-family homes, and apartment complexes. The story at Great Salt Lake is very sad. The lake is 75 miles long and 35 miles wide, covering 950 square miles of surface area. However, it’s only 33′ at its deepest spot and usually averages 16′ deep. Today there are beached sailboats. This past month the lake hit its lowest level in history, and the last boats were pulled from the Great Salt Lake Marina. The shrinking lake presents an ecological crisis for the state. The lake generates snowpack for the surrounding ski areas and mountains; however, the exposed lake bed increases dust that blows into populated areas, which carries toxins, including arsenic, into residents’ lungs. It’s a big political issue. The lake has already shrunk by 2/3 of its size!

So are we fortunate here in New Hampshire’s Lakes region with our beautiful natural spring-fed lakes…yes? When I came home last night, I was happy to see Lake Winnipesaukee at its normal level. So much better than seeing dried-up lakes with docks on land far from the shoreline. 

When I got into the office this Friday, I thought I would look up our local real estate news on MLS to see if our asking prices for homes have dropped like the lake levels in the southwest, and here’s what I found:

  • For the State of New Hampshire for non-waterfront and waterfront, there were 219 price reductions for active listings, and the average price reduction was $62,326. The average days on the market is 46, the median 30, and the median asking price is $475,000.
  • For Belknap County non-waterfront and waterfront, there were 21 price reductions for active listings. The average price reduction was $45,687 for non-waterfront, and the average for non-waterfront and waterfront combined was $75,523. Average days on the market 61, median days 34. The median asking price is $499,000 for both categories.
  • For Belknap County Winnipesaukee waterfronts, there were only 5 price reductions for active listings. The aver price reduction was $171,000. The average days on the market is 76, and the median days is 34. The median asking price is $1,700,000.
  • For Carroll Country for active listings, there were 6 price reductions for non-waterfront only. The average price reduction was $69,466. The average days on the market is 59. The median is 73. The median asking price is $452,750. There were no price reductions for active Lake Winnipesaukee listings.

Although the waters on our Lakes Region lakes are not receding like those in the southwest, we are beginning to see some price reductions, which is good news for so many out there trying to acquire a property in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. We are lucky to live in a region with so many natural resources, especially water. We do not experience massive forest fires, tornados, and huge coastal hurricanes experienced in other parts of the country.

Frank Roche, President of Roche Realty Group, Inc. with offices in Meredith and Laconia, NH

Frank Roche is the President of Roche Realty Group with two offices in Meredith (603) 279-7046, and Laconia (603) 528-0088. You can learn more about the company and research a wealth of real estate information at: www.rocherealty.com

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