PORTSMOUTH – Would you buy a house without ever setting foot in it? It’s happening here on the Seacoast.
Four months after the coronavirus lockdown began, local real estate agencies, brokers and agents say not only has the way they do business changed, an acute supply shortage is swinging the housing market pendulum firmly in the court of sellers.
This means potential buyers have to act fast.
At the end of June 2010, there were more than 14,000 single-family residential homes on the market in New Hampshire. This June, there were 2,719.
“It’s all about inventory,” Marc Drapeau, president of NHAR said in a monthly address to New Hampshire Realtors. “Pending sales are up, so the demand is there among buyers. It’s just a matter of when the sellers who are now on the fence are going to be more comfortable about selling their homes. And of course we just don’t know when that’s going to be, considering the continuing concern of the virus.”
As inventory shrinks, million-dollar homes are getting more interest than ever. Realtors tell stories of buyers from cosmopolitan areas landing here in private jets to scope out waterfront properties.
The Seacoast Board of Realtors reported a new record was established in June. There were 15 sales of $1 million or more, breaking October’s record of 13.
“It is a combination of more demand and less inventory, and the fact that we have more buyers coming in with big budgets from larger cities out of state,” said Liz Levey-Pruyn, a Realtor with RE/MAX Shoreline in Portsmouth.
It’s a trend similar to what she saw in Portsmouth after 9/11.
“I listed one property over $1 million and sold it right away,” she added. In the three months following the pandemic shutdown, Levey-Pruyn, an award-winning Realtor who is currently Portsmouth’s top-selling agent, said she sold more million-dollar homes with buyer clients than ever before in that short a period of time.
She recently listed what is currently the most expensive property on the market in New Castle, a four-bedroom, single-family home with water views on Piscataqua Street, for $2,795,000.
“I am having more activity on the Piscataqua Street property than I’ve ever had,” Levey-Pruyn said.
She is not alone.
“A lot of buyers from urban areas are looking for a quieter, safer place,” says Jon McCormack of Bean Group Portsmouth. “I have colleagues meeting potential buyers who’ve just flown in on their private jets at Pease and taking them to see multi-million dollar waterfront properties.”
High-end isn’t the only draw. The housing market here in general is on fire and it’s radiating out from Portsmouth, McCormack said. “For the first time in a decade, I’m hearing ‘Dover is the new Portsmouth,’ and Somersworth is red hot.”
The majority of his clients, mostly white-collar professionals, are looking for homes in the $250,000 to $500,000 range. However,…