The Saga of the Couple Next Door Continues – Lakes Region Real Estate Report
If you have been following my retelling of the story of Albert and Ethel from the 1958 CBS radio broadcasts of the Couple Next Door in the Lakes Region Real Estate Report, you will remember that they sold their home on their own for what they thought was a lot of money ($27,500.) Now have thirty days to get out. They are looking for an apartment to rent while they build a new home on some land they just purchased with beautiful views and lake frontage. But, they didn’t really consider the fact that there is no road to get to it. This is a story of real estate mishaps gone wild. If you haven’t been following the story, well, you are pretty much caught up!
In a following episode, a local architect, Mr. Rogers (no, not that Mr. Rogers!), arrives at their home to start working on a set of house plans for them. Albert wants to make it very clear right from the start that they don’t want too much, just “a nice, simple livable home with modern conveniences that’s all. We can do without the six car garage and swimming pool.”
Mr. Rogers asks them what style of home they had in mind. Ethel says they hadn’t agreed on the final style. She wants a colonial or “English style” and Albert wants a “70’s modern” home. Clearly at odds on this basic style they decide to start on the inside first…
Ethel wants large rooms with “room to breathe” and things like window seats, French doors, cozy nooks, lots of built ins, and “lots and lots” of closets. “Lots and lots” is Ethel’s most favorite expression to use when designing her home. She also wants all the appliances in the kitchen to be built -in so it doesn’t look “too ‘kitcheny,’ you know.”
Albert pipes in that if there is one thing that he wants even if can’t have anything else and that is “my own private den.” Ethel says he also needs a workshop where he can keep his tools and work on things. There are just one or two other little things she would like. You know, like a fireplace in the living room, dining room, master bedroom, the den and even in the kitchen. She shows Mr. Rogers a picture of a kitchen she likes she cut out of a magazine so he can see what she wants.
The Floor Plan
They pull out a floor plan they had drawn. Ethel points out the living room with fireplace and French doors leading to flagstone terrace. She explains she wants old-fashioned bow windows with window seats. Albert shows him where the den is and wants floor to ceiling built-in book cases, with indirect lighting, and paneled walls.
They both keep firing away with their ever-growing list of desires including a big front hall with a suspended winding staircase, closets all over the place, a pantry with “lots and lots” of shelves, a sewing room that would lead out to the gardens, a rumpus room with ping pong table in the basement, beamed ceilings in the living and dining rooms, and a two-car garage with maybe just two little guest rooms above. Ethel shows him the master bedroom with French doors leading to a sleeping porch, the fireplace, “lots and lots” of closets, and bathroom.
Albert chimes in he wants glassed in showers everywhere. Ethel says there is to be a guest room and she also wants a kitchen in there overlooking the lake. Mr. Rogers looks at the plan and asks what this room is and Ethel says that’s “sort-of” her den upstairs. They decide they want a circular drive so people don’t back into each other. They’d also like a little green house outside if that doesn’t cost too much but if it does they can scratch that off the list.
Albert states emphatically he wants only the very best materials to be used in the construction because it will last a lot longer. Mr. Rogers agrees that most people just don’t understand that and object to the cost of using quality building materials which actually saves money in the end.
The Million Dollar Question
Albert then asks Mr. Rogers the million-dollar question “How much will this cost, I know you can’t give an exact amount on the spur I the moment?” Mr. Rogers murmurs, pausing, and ponders a bit, “well, roughly, I didn’t see why you can’t do it very nicely for $175,000.” Things go pretty silent…
After cutting to the commercial break, Ethel says “We’ll just have to get another architect, that’s what we’ll do.” Albert says Mr. Rogers is the best one in town! She laments, “Why should it cost so much more money to have a stairway that winds rather than one that goes up straight?” Albert says” I feel like a fool, I had no idea things cost so much.” “Well, we’ve never done any building, Dear, not a thing.”
Ethel moans “and I still don’t see why it costs so much…I got the ideas out of a magazine, here look at this ‘We built our lovely home for only $24,000’ and look at it, it is just done. I got all my ideas out of things like this.” Albert says.” Well, the trouble with us is we took an idea from this and one from that and never added them together!” They decide that they could still have a nice house but that they’d have to cut back a little and maybe do additions a little later…but they still have to have four bedrooms and “lots and lots” of closets. Does any of this sound remotely familiar?
The March Real Estate Sales Report
There were 84 residential homes sales in March in the twelve Lakes Region communities covered by this report. The average sales price came in at $293,022 and the media price point was $205,000. That brings the total number of sales for the year thus far to 205 compared to 201 homes sold in the first three months of 2016. That’s “lots and lots” of homes… but we need more new listings to keep up the pace!
Lake Winnipesaukee – Back in the Day
Anyone familiar with Lake Winnipesaukee knows the dock on Bear Island. This picture, taken in 1906, shows a boat with properly attired folks coming in to spend some quality time on the island. Looks like some were packed to stay for a while! You can find the latest listings on Lake Winnipesaukee by clicking in the picture below and going to DistinctiveHomesNH….imagine that, like magic!
From Wikipedia: “Bear Island is the second largest of some 274 islands on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, United States. In the summer it is accessible only by boat because it is not connected to the mainland via a bridge. In the winter it can be reached by crossing the frozen lake, including by snowmobile. According to the Lake Winnipesaukee Historical Society, the island got its name when a few hunters along with a few members of the Pennacook tribe were sent to survey the island. However, they encountered a few bears, which they decided to hunt. Originally the island was named “Big Bear Island”, which was later shortened to “Bear Island” when the island was annexed by the town of Meredith in 1799.”
Winni Waterfront Report March 2017
The Winni Waterfront Report.
There were just five waterfront sales on Lake Winnipesaukee in March, 2017 at an average price of $1,389,800 and a median price point of $1,450,000. That brings the total for the first quarter of 2017 to 15 sales at an average price of $1,545,173 with a median price point of $1.5 million. That’s a far cry from the 25 sales posted in the first quarter of this 2016. The average sale price for the first quarter last year was $1,046,300 and the median price point was $825,000. Just seven of the those 25 sales in 2016 were over the million dollar mark while twelve of the fifteen sales so far this year exceeded $1 million and three of those were over $2 million. So, the expensive properties seem to be moving!
The lowest price sale last month was a property at 64 Prescott Ave in Laconia. This 1950’s vintage, 2,500 square foot home has four bedrooms, two baths, a waterside family room with fireplace and lots of glass to view the lake, an eat in kitchen, and a dining area. The house sits on a level .13 acre lot with fourteen feet of frontage and a u-shaped dock. What more do you really need to get on the water? This property was originally listed at $499,000, was reduced to $459,000, and sold for $400,000 after 283 days on the market.
The Median Sale
The mid-priced sale last month was at 33 Cummings Cove Road in Meredith. This eleven room, four bedroom, three and a half bath Adirondack style home was custom built in 1999 and has all the bells and whistles you’d likely want.
It has a wide open floor plan, hardwood floors, a living room with towering floor to ceiling fireplace, a bright kitchen with granite countertops, stainless appliances, center island with gas cook top, and a first floor master suite with its own fireplace and office area. The finished lower level contains a family room and fourth bedroom. It opens out into a level .77 acre lot with large lawn and 87’ of southerly facing frontage with a 40’ dock and sandy beach. Of course, there are ample decks and a screened porch to sit and look out over the domain! This property just sold in 2015 for $1.3 million but was listed again this year at $1.475 million and sold for $1.45 million after just five days on the market.
The Big One!
The highest sale last month was at 82 Iroquois Lane in Moultonborough and I can see why it was. This stunning and tasteful cedar shake Adirondack waterfront is done the way they are supposed to be! It has a great open floor plan with natural woodwork, wainscoting, wood ceilings with exposed beams, two beautiful field stone fireplaces, and lots of glass to bring in the lake views. It has 4,568 square feet of space with five bedrooms, and five and a half baths.
The stunning eat in kitchen with stainless and granite flows easily into a dining area and the great room. This is the perfect entertaining space. There’s a first floor master suite with access to the wrap around deck. On the second level are four en-suites along with a home theater room and loft area. The home sits on a very secluded 1.87 acre lot with gorgeous landscaping, walkways, patios, and 164’ of sandy frontage with a U-Shaped dock. This property was listed at $2.4 million and sold in 80 days for 2.3 million. I wonder if they’d let me stay down in the shed by the water?
There were no sales on Winnisquam in March. None, nada! So, if you have a place over there and want to sell, I am sure I could have it arranged to happen pretty quickly! There’s not a lot on the market so it is a great time to get top dollar!
The Couple Next Door -Lakes Region Real Estate
The next episode of “The Couple Next Door” that deals with real estate entitled “Signing the Papers” was Broadcast on CBS Radio on February 12, 1958. It starts out at the buyer’s (Mr. Clayton) attorney’s office where Albert and Ethel will sign a preliminary agreement to sell Mr. Clayton their home. The agreement states that Albert will get a $3,000 deposit to hold the property until they sign final documents in thirty days.
While reviewing the document Mr. Clayton notices the stove and refrigerator aren’t mentioned and he states that it was his understanding they were included. After all, he says, he is paying more than the house is really worth. Albert protests saying he never mentioned anything about the stove and refrigerator staying and that he expected to use them in their new house. Things were starting to get a little heated.
The Attorney Helps Out…
The attorney jumps in to try and asks Mr. Clayton if he still has the stove and refrigerator from his old house. He replies no, that he sold them as part of the deal. The attorney explains that it is customary practice to leave the appliances with a house as part of the sale. Ethel decides that she would rather have new appliances in their new house despite how cheap her husband might be, so they let it go.
But, then she realizes nothing was mentioned about the big, brass, 200-year-old doorknocker on the front door that belonged to her mother. She declares she is taking it with her. Mr. Clayton responds rather adamantly that he does not want the house dismantled. The doorknocker is one of the things that give the house so much character and that’s the reason he wanted the it in the first place! (See, these things happened, even then.)
Once again, the attorney jumps in and suggests that the doorknocker be replaced with an identical one. Reluctantly Ethel agrees and now all she has to do is find an identical 200-year-old doorknocker. Good luck with that! (It would have been a lot easier to have a Sellers Property Disclosure outlining what stays and what doesn’t, don’t you think?)
Albert then realizes that they didn’t put anything in the agreement about the blue spruce tree in the front yard that he planted for their daughter, Betsy. That can’t stay, it has to go to their new property! Now steaming, Mr. Clayton makes it clear that it is staying and that Albert will not be leaving holes in the front yard! While Ethel and Albert feel that they are giving in on everything they agree to replace that blue spruce with an even bigger and better one. Sellers today can blame Albert and Ethel for starting this trend!
After the meeting, Albert tells Ethel that there is no way that her Mother’s gold, 200 year old doorknocker is going on the front of the modern style house they are building. She replies that it will go perfectly well on the colonial style home they will be building. You see how easy this is going, right?
Looking at Lakefront Property
In the next episode, “Looking at Lake Front Property,“ Ethel comes into town to Albert’s office to take him to see the “most beautiful land” she has ever seen. “It is just what we want she exclaims!” She apparently had been looking at property all day with a “real estate man.” She wants Albert to see it and meet him because he can ask him all the right questions. But she is sure that “this real estate man” wouldn’t sell them anything unless it was OK.
So, they meet Mr. Whipple, the “real estate man,” and he tells them to park their car so they can walk through the woods to the parcel of land. Albert wonders why they have to walk to the property, isn’t there a road, do I have to build one?! Ethel says “Don’t worry about that now…” “It might be just a teensy, weensy road.”
They go traipsing off through the woods and Albert wonders how much father it can be as he feels like Sargent Preston of the Yukon. (Do you remember him?) Albert asks Mr. Whipple if the snowplows come out this way? “Ohhh, sure,” mutters Mr. Whipple. Then Albert sees the unbelievable view of the lake, the city, and the park on the other side.
It turns out that the lot is two acres, which is more than they really had considered, but it does have lake frontage with a cove, beach, and a “babbling brook” (that always cinches the deal!) Albert asks if the property is within the city limits and Mr. Whipple replies yes and “That is the beauty of it. You have all the advantages of city life in the city and you have the feeling of being in the country.”
It Won’t Last Long
Whipple tells them these lots were recently subdivided and they won’t last long. Albert is excited and agrees as you just don’t find views like this, but wishes they had more time to think about it. But then, he also thinks he could get a little sail boat once they get settled. She says that would be wonderful for him because he would get to exercise more like he has always wanted. And the best part is their darling little Betsy could even go to the same school system. Yup, they are hooked! “Golly, look at that view!”
Albert decides to ride back to town with Mr. Whipple so they can talk on the way and he would do a little figuring. Well, apparently, Albert bought the land on the way home. He comes home to tell Ethel that he put a deposit down because he was sure he didn’t want to lose it. She is ecstatic! “Oh, oh, oh” she says, “What did he say about a road?” “Did you ask him?” You can see that blank stare on his face even through the radio! “No, no, golly, that right, a road!” “Well, don’t worry about it!” she says.”
“A road, yeah…” he meekly mumbles to himself…
What’s for sale?
There were 597 single family residential homes for sale in the twelve Lakes Region communities covered by this report. The average asking price was $680,164 and the median price point was $299,000. All of these homes have roads to them…
Data compiled using the NEREN MLS system
As a real estate agent I spend a lot time in my truck listening to the radio going to and from appointments. I like talk radio, especially the real estate home improvement shows on the AM station like “The Money Pit” and “At Home with Gary Sullivan,” but obviously they are not on all the time. I also have a Sirius XM Satellite radio to listen to a hundred other stations but even with that, sometimes it seems that there is nothing worth listening to.
The other day I tuned into Channel 148 which is the “Radio Classics” channel and features programs from the 40’s and 50’s like the “Shadow”, “”The Green Hornet”, “The Jack Benny Show”, “Gunsmoke”, and “The Adventures of the Thin Man.” While these radio programs were just a shade before my time, many of them did make the jump to television in the mid to late fifties and they bring back lots of memories. It seems kind of strange to listen to old radio shows on a satellite radio, but I do lots of strange things. The problem with listening to this channel is that the programs are close to half an hour long and I always seem to either miss the beginning or the end of an episode.
Anyway, the program I tuned into is called “The Couple Next Door” which was broadcast from 1957 to 1960 on CBS radio and featured Peg Lynch and Alan Bunce. The program is about an everyday, ordinary married couple dealing with everyday situations that seem to get a little out of control. The particular episode I tuned in on actually had to do with them selling their home. Since I’d missed most of it I checked it out on the internet when I got home. It turns out the Oldtime Radio Network (http://www.otr.net) has the compete series of programs and it didn’t take long to find the show about real estate. The “House For Sale Episode” was broadcast February 10, 1958. Just from the episode titles I could see there were a number of episodes that dealt the sale of this couples’ home and the purchase of land, and the subsequent building of their new dream home.
Same real estate problems even back then!
It is interesting that this show, which was produced some sixty years ago, clearly illustrates the same trials, tribulations, anxieties, and emotions that buyers and sellers face today. It also shows the amount of trouble the characters got into both with, and without, the help of real estate agents. The house sale saga starts when Ethel starts getting calls from strangers asking questions like “how many bathrooms do you have?” and “do you have a screened porch?” Thinking it is a crack pot (today Craig’s List comes to mind) she has Albert answer the next call.
The next guy tells him that he is calling because there is an advertisement in the paper offering their home for sale. They look at the paper and sure enough there is an ad for someone else’s home but their phone number. The calls keep coming. Albert keeps telling the callers that no, their house is definitely not for sale, but his gears start turning and he starts to wonder what they could get for their home.
Albert concludes that all the activity must be because a new industrial chemical plant is coming to town and all these new employees will need a house. After fielding a couple dozen phone calls, he concludes the market is red hot and maybe they really should sell. Alice isn’t interested in moving at all. She says she finally has gotten this house just the way she wants it and is not moving. Period! No way!
Albert takes a call from a Mr. Clayton, who turns out to be the son of the owner of the new chemical plant, and he is desperate to find housing. He tells Albert he wants to see his house but won’t spend more than $30,000.
With big dollar signs in his eyes, he invites the guy right over. Ethel and Albert squabble until the guy arrives and he is full of praise about their home. He said he admires the home and found it “inviting and comfortable the minute you walk in the door” (I think I have used that line) and that it had “elegant simplicity” (I have used that, too), and that it “should be in a magazine” (ditto.)
Hearing this praise, Ethel begins to change her mind and thinks about cashing in. Mr. Clayton is desperate to find a house as he has to move there in a month so he offers $25,000 for the house. Albert says he wants $30,000 and Clayton replies he knows a lot about houses and it is not worth that but he is willing to do $27,500. They tell Mr. Clayton they will need to think about it.
The Next Episode
The next episode starts the very next day when Ethel comes into town to have lunch with Albert at a local restaurant. Mr. Clayton had called that morning to let Albert know he needs a decision on whether they would sell and that they would have to be out in thirty days. They talk it over and realize they may never get another offer like this.
While they are sitting there, friends stop by to congratulate them on the sale of their house and on building a new one. Real estate is a hot topic! Apparently, Ethel told one of her friends that morning what was going on and now the whole town knows. One friend says they should stay put and one tells them about the pitfalls and high costs of building a new house. One says don’t do it, this is “no time to sell your home,” real estate will be worth a lot more in ten years! They think maybe they better forget the whole thing. But they don’t see how they could ever get any more for their house.
Then another friend stops by their table and tells them how smart they are for selling now because of the new 100 lot subdivision and shopping center that is going in behind them! They realize that if Mr. Clayton hears about that subdivision he won’t buy their house so they rush home to call him (no cell phones then remember.)
Ethel is now fully invested in selling her house! She is sick of hitting her head on that old beam going down the stairs and doorknobs coming off in her hands. Albert says he wants to sell because you can’t build a fire in that darn fireplace without the whole house filling full of smoke and muses that Mr. Clayton will have many memorable nights with that fireplace. So far, everything is playing out pretty much the same as I would expect whether it is 1958 or 2017… to be continued!
Ok, I really hate it when things are to easy! It is not as though I like things to be hard really, but when you only have one sale to report in all of South Down and Long Bay for a month the report is really easy to do… and that is not the way I Iike to see things!
This is obviously an in-between time of year, and as I reported in my residential report this month the inventory levels are way, way down. That would likely account for the low volume of sales.
That means you have a great opportunity if you are thinking of selling your home in South Down and Long Bay as there isn’t as much competition as usual. With the summer season fast approaching, now is the time to get your property on the market if you want to move it this spring…
The only sale this month was in the Beach Club at 25 Crane Circle where a 2,700 square foot, four bedroom, three and a half bath, recently remodeled, detached unit found a new owner at $545,000. The updated kitchen has new cabinetry, stainless appliances, granite counters and hardwood floors. It has a first floor master suite, a second floor suite as well as two bedrooms in the fully finished walkout. And, there are water views! The property was brought on the market at $549,000 to a buyer in waiting as it went under agreement the same day. It is currently assessed at $424,400.
There were just 46 single family residential home sales in February in the twelve Lakes Region communities covered by this market report. The average sales price came in at $337,967 and the median price point was $187,950. That’s a significant dip from the 61 sales last February although the average sales price then was a little lower at $280,073. It could be that this is just the time of the year that we see a drop in sales but if you are out looking for a house you have probably noticed that there is a not a lot on the market right now to choose from. It’s hard to sell more houses when they just aren’t as many for sale.
There were just 561 homes on the market as of March 1 in these same communities. There were 767 homes available on March 1, 2016 so that’s a pretty big decrease in what buyers have to choose from. As of this writing the inventory has risen a little to 595 homes so that is a little better but that is still only five and a half month’s worth of inventory.
So here’s the deal! Real estate agents will always say it is a good time to sell…well, just because it usually is a good time to sell if you need to. There are always buyers out there looking for good quality homes and they will sell as long as they are priced correctly. But given the combination of low current inventory level, the spring sales season fast approaching, and continued low interest rates even with the quarter point bump this is kind of like the perfect storm for selling your property. Now is the perfect time to sell your home.
So here are five tips if you want to sell now. First, get yourself an agent. Don’t talk to one agent, talk to at least three. Ask questions, take notes. This is a big deal! You want the agent that provides you the best services and the best marketing but just as important you want an agent you feel comfortable with. You want one that listens to you, knows the market, and one that communicates effectively. This is one of the biggest sales transactions of your life and you are going to be working with the agent you choose for a while so make sure the fit feels good.
Tip two. Don’t base the decision on which agent you pick based on how much he tells you your home is worth. Pricing a home is definitely not rocket science and there is room for personal opinions and sales strategy techniques. If two out of three agents give you similar numbers and the third agent comes in dramatically higher, don’t select the third agent based solely on that number without some really careful thought and analysis. The final pricing of your home should come after careful consideration and discussion of all the comparable sales the agents have shown you.
Tip three. We are coming into our glorious mud season. Any exterior photography done of your home right now certainly won’t show it off in its best light no matter how good the photographer is. If you have some high quality summer photos of the house and landscaping let your agent use those to get the listing up and going and replace them with professional photography when things green up. Hopefully, if you have priced your property right it will be sold before things are in bloom, but you never know…
Tip Four. Make sure you stage your home properly for the market. Your home has got to be Spic and Span clean and at its very, very best. This is no time to fool around! The agent you select should have a pretty good handle on what should be done (if anything!) but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to get a real professional home-stager in to at least do a consultation. You would be totally amazed at some off the transformations we see and the resulting sales because of it.
Tip Five. Back to photography. Don’t settle for anything less than great photography inside and out! Think about it, your first showing to the buying public is on-line and if potential buyers don’t like what they see they are not going to come and look at your home. Cell phones pictures or point, click, and hope for the best type efforts are totally unacceptable if you want to sell your home. Period!
So, if you are thinking of selling, now is the time, this is the season. Do it right and you could be moving sooner than you think!
Data compiled using the NEREN MLS system