Mortgage Rates Expected to Rise in 2015

Depending on the source there is a general expectation that mortgage rates will start an upward trend in 2015.  Recent predictions from Freddie Mac indicate that the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage will reach 5% by the end of 2015 as does the  Mortgage Bankers Association. We recently had a chance to hear Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, speak at the New Hampshire Association of Realtors conference in September and he forecast a rising trend with the 30-year fixed rate reaching 6% by the second quarter of 2015. He was also quoted earlier this year as saying that the 30-year fixed rate will average 5.5 percent in 2015. Economist Dr. Bill Conerly also expects the 30-year average to climb higher next year, perhaps reaching 6% by year’s end. Lastly, The Home Buying Institute’s projections are on the lower side, matching the 5% outlook offered by Freddie Mac and MBA.Mortgage clip art

So what can we expect in 2015 and what does this mean for the real estate market?

First; rising rates will mean that the average buyer will not be able to afford as much house as they could in 2014. For example, a buyer earning $60,000 a year with $25,000 down payment and no other monthly debt except for Homeowners Insurance of $1000 could afford to pay $300,790 for a home at a fixed rate of 4% for 30 years. If rates go to 5% the amount they can now pay is $270,270 and if the rates go to 6% they can now only afford $244, 608. This will mean that selling prices will be adversely affected as fewer people will be able to afford more expensive homes. Sellers will be forced to adjust their asking prices if they must sell especially if inventory out paces demand.

Secondly, It will make existing home buyers rethink their need to step up. If they are currently locked in at 3.5%, buying a new home at a possible new rate in the 5.5% range which will significantly increase their monthly mortgage payment. Therefore fewer sellers may elect to jump into the market.

Ultimately higher rates will not affect people that have to buy or sell (divorce, moving, job change, etc) simply because they have no choice, but the discretionary market may take a hit if all other economic indicators remain the same such as consumer confidence, house hold income, unemployment, etc.

Therefore, if you are contemplating selling in 2015, it would be our recommendation to get in the market early and make sure you are priced correctly for what the market will bear, not what you have to “get out of the property”. For buyers, the focus should be on buying early in 2015 before rates start to creep up.

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How to Assess the Real Cost of a Fixer-Upper House

When you buy a fixer-upper house, you can save a ton of money, or get yourself in a financial fix.

By: G. M. Filisko

Trying to decide whether to buy a fixer-upper house? Follow these seven steps, and you’ll know how much you can afford, how much to offer, and whether a fixer-upper house is right for you.

1. Decide what you can do yourself

TV remodeling shows make home improvement work look like a snap. In the real world, attempting a difficult remodeling job that you don’t know how to do will take longer than you think and can lead to less-than-professional results that won’t increase the value of your fixer-upper house.  Do you really have the skills to do it? Some tasks, like stripping wallpaper and painting, are relatively easy. Others, like electrical work, can be dangerous when done by amateurs. Do you really have the time and desire to do it? Can you take time off work to renovate your fixer-upper house? If not, will you be stressed out by living in a work zone for months while you complete projects on the weekends?

2. Price the cost of repairs and remodeling before you make an offer

Get your contractor into the house to do a walk-through, so he can give you a written cost estimate on the tasks he’s going to do.
If you’re doing the work yourself, price the supplies.
Either way, tack on 10% to 20% to cover unforeseen problems that often arise with a fixer-upper house.

3. Check permit costs

Ask local officials if the work you’re going to do requires a permit and how much that permit costs. Doing work without a permit may save money, but it’ll cause problems when you resell your home.
Decide if you want to get the permits yourself or have the contractor arrange for them. Getting permits can be time-consuming and frustrating. Inspectors may force you to do additional work, or change the way you want to do a project, before they give you the permit. Factor the time and aggravation of permits into your plans.

4. Double check pricing on structural work

If your fixer-upper home needs major structural work, hire a structural engineer for $500 to $700 to inspect the home before you put in an offer so you can be confident you’ve uncovered and conservatively budgeted for the full extent of the problems. Get written estimates for repairs before you commit to buying a home with structural issues.

Don’t purchase a home that needs major structural work unless:

You’re getting it at a steep discount
You’re sure you’ve uncovered the extent of the problem
You know the problem can be fixed
You have a binding written estimate for the repairs

5. Check the cost of financing

Be sure you have enough money for a down payment, closing costs, and repairs without draining your savings.

If you’re planning to fund the repairs with a home equity or home improvement loan:

Get yourself pre-approved for both loans before you make an offer. Make the deal contingent on getting both the purchase money loan and the renovation money loan, so you’re not forced to close the sale when you have no loan to fix the house. Consider the Federal Housing Administration’s Section 203(k) program, which is designed to help home owners who are purchasing or refinancing a home that needs rehabilitation. The program wraps the purchase/refinance and rehabilitation costs into a single mortgage. To qualify for the loan, the total value of the property must fall within the FHA mortgage limit for your area, as with other FHA loans. A streamlined 203(k) program provides an additional amount for rehabilitation, up to $35,000, on top of an existing mortgage. It’s a simpler process than obtaining the standard 203(k).

6. Calculate your fair purchase offer

Take the fair market value of the property (what it would be worth if it were in good condition and remodeled to current tastes) and subtract the upgrade and repair costs.
For example: Your target fixer-upper house has a 1960s kitchen, metallic wallpaper, shag carpet, and high levels of radon in the basement. Your comparison house, in the same subdivision, sold last month for $200,000. That house had a newer kitchen, no wallpaper, was recently recarpeted, and has a radon mitigation system in its basement. The cost to remodel the kitchen, remove the wallpaper, carpet the house, and put in a radon mitigation system is $40,000. Your bid for the house should be $160,000. Ask your real estate agent if it’s a good idea to share your cost estimates with the sellers, to prove your offer is fair.

7. Include inspection contingencies in your offer

Don’t rely on your friends or your contractor to eyeball your fixer-upper house. Hire pros to do common inspections like: Home inspection. This is key in a fixer-upper assessment. The home inspector will uncover hidden issues in need of replacement or repair. You may know you want to replace those 1970s kitchen cabinets, but the home inspector has a meter that will detect the water leak behind them. Radon, mold, lead-based paint
Septic and well Pest. Most home inspection contingencies let you go back to the sellers and ask them to do the repairs, or give you cash at closing to pay for the repairs. The seller can also opt to simply back out of the deal, as can you, if the inspection turns up something you don’t want to deal with. If that happens, this isn’t the right fixer-upper house for you. Go back to the top of this list and start again.

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer whose parents bought and renovated a fixer-upper when she was a teen. A regular contributor to many national publications including, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

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Where to Access Boating and Beaches in the Lakes Region

Sunshine is upon us and so is the swimming and boating season. Fortunately, there are no shortages of public swimming areas and boat launches in the Lakes Region. I have compiled the following information from Lakes Region Tourism Assn. and NH Fish and Game on the following facilities:

Lake Winnipesaukee: Alton Bay- Beach area on RT 28A and a swim dock located on RT 11 next to town docks. Wolfeboro- Brewster Beach off Clark Rd. and Carry Beach off Forest Rd. Tuftonboro- 19 Mile Bay Beach Gov. Wentworth Hwy. RT 109 and Union Wharf Boat Ramp 20 Mile Bay Beach Gov. Wentworth Hwy. RT 109. Melvin Village- Melvin Village Wharf & Boat Ramp. Moultonborough- Boat Launch at Harilla Landing. Center Harbor- Boat Launch at Town Docks. Meredith- Leavitt Park Beach. Take RT 25 from Meredith to Leavitt Rd. and Boat Launch at Town Docks. Gilford- Ellacoya State Park off RT 11 and Boat Ramp. Weirs Beach- Public Beach at Endicott Park, Weirs Beach Channel RT 3 Laconia.

Lake WinnisquamBo in Boat small: Laconia- Ahern State Park Beach with car top launch RT 11A and Bartlett Beach and Boat Ramp on Winnisquam Ave.

Lake Wentworth: Wolfeboro- Allen Albee Beach off RT 28, Wentworth State Park Beach RT 109 and Boat Launch is at Mast Landing on Crescent Lake.

Newfound Lake: Bristol- Beach and Boat Launch.

Lake Opechee: Laconia- Opechee Park Cove Beach and Opechee Point Beach RT. 106 No. Main St.

Squam Lake: Holderness- Boat Ramp off RT 113 across from Squam Lake Science Center and on RT 3 near Perkins Lane.

Lake Ossipee: Ossipee- Pine River Docks on RT 25 E and car top access also on RT 25E.

Merrymeeting Lake: New Durham- Boat Launch on Merrymeeting Lake Rd.

Please don’t forget to wash the bottom of your boat when visiting our lakes; we are working very hard to stop the spread of non-indigenous plants & animals!

For more information Paula Hinckley can be reached in our Meredith office at 603.566.6608.

Our Global Website Hits a New Milestone!

SIROur global website recently surpassed 1 million visits in a single month for the first time in its history! July 2014 saw 1,042,043 visits to, a  15% increase over July 2013. This major milestone is something we all take pride in. This is another significant achievement for our incredible brand which is indicative of our quality and consistent growth over the years.

Traffic to  has been steadily trending upwards for the last six years, with the largest jump in traffic growth occurring over the past two. The major contributors to this great achievement have been our overall growth as a brand with approximately 720 offices in 52 countries, our strategic marketing partnerships with the most significant media companies in the world including such powerhouses as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal and our continuous search engine optimization and advertising efforts that place in the top positions within search engine results.

Four Seasons Sotheby’s International Realty celebrates this achievement together with our partners at Sotheby’s International Realty. We look forward to continued growth for; the destination for discovering luxury real estate worldwide!

Summer Traffic in a Lake Resort Town

By Becky Whitcher,

Summer Traffic. It’s the talk of the town this time of year. Seeing that I am a local and know my way around these parts I thought I would offer some helpful hints to those of you who haven’t learned the short cuts. If you don’t know the shortcuts, then you can’t get theah from heah!

If you’re going to Center Harbor or Moultonborough from I-93, be sure to take Route 104 (Exit 23) to Meredith. But before you get into town, take that road on the left that goes out to Dr. Vorsek’s old place and follow it and it’ll come out kind of near Belknap College. Take that road by the field with the rock that looks like a bear and go past where dad used to go hunting for the bear that looked like a rock and it’ll bring you right into Center Harbor. When you get to Center Harbor don’t forget to get some groceries at Heath’s. Shop local!

If you need to get through Meredith from the traffic circle (or the “roundabout” as the DOT folks call it), take the back road where the Spragues used to live and where the Ruels still do, and go all the way to the bottom and scoot out across the road to that other road where you get to the back entrance of Doc Nadeau’s old clinic.

Go to the bottom of the hill past McHughs and Sedley Bartlett’s house. If the traffic is backed up on Main Street, take a left by Dr. Dennault’s office and then a right at the Cloughs. That’ll bring you around to the back parking lot of Anderson’s Bakery and Allaire’s Furniture Store. Go through the lot and over the bridge past Weeks’ store and then up the hill where they used to go sliding, shoot through the church parking lot, go left up over the hill and around and come out at the other church. Our office is there on the left at 3 Main Street where Vernal Drake’s office was located for years, right around the corner from the Dairy Bar. You’ll really feel like a local when you pull that out of your bag of tricks.

Becky is an associate in our Meredith Office and obviously knows her way around these parts. She can be reached at 603-393-7072.

How and Why do We Classify Our Lakes and Ponds?

Carl Sack is an agent in our Meredith office and is an avid fisherman. He understands the importance of understanding what makes one lake versus another a good one to fish in. Lakes and ponds are classified according to their water quality.  The classification is based on clarity, bottom structure and concentration of weeds and can affect such activities as fishing and summer beach closures.

Lake Morning Cropped

Q. What is an Oligotrophic lake? 

Carl: An oligotrophic lake is a lake with low nutrient content. These lakes have low algal production and consequently have very clear waters along with sandy or rocky bottoms.  They typically have ample oxygen supporting many fish species some that require cold, well-oxygenated waters.  Rarely are there any beach closures on these lakes and ponds.

Q. And how about Mesotrophic lakes?

Carl: Mesotrophic lakes have an intermediate level of algal productivity. These lakes commonly have clear water, sandy, rocky or hardpan bottoms or beds of submerged aquatic plants. There is a medium level of nutrients and aquatic plants possible along shallow shorelines. Occasionally there will be beach closures.

Q. And Eutrophic Lakes?

Carl: A eutrophic body of water can be a lake or pond with high biological productivity. Due to excessive nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorus, these water bodies are able to support an abundance of aquatic plants and algae. The algae engages in photosynthesis which supplies oxygen to the fish and biota. Occasionally an excessive algae bloom will result in fish kills and make the water not safe for any activities.  The process of eutrophication can occur naturally or by human impact on the environment. These lakes will be impacted by hot summer months with frequent Beach Closures!

The NH Department of Environmental Sciences test beaches during the summer and if high bacteria counts are found will close them to the public. For updates on your favorite beach’s condition, visit:

For a list of local lakes and water classifications visit Carl’s website at


Great News for Skiers at Mt Sunapee Resort

The Sunbowl Quad chairlift at Mount Sunapee Resort is being replaced with a High-speed Express Quad chairlift for the 2014-2015 winter season. This 4,300 foot lift manufactured by Poma of America will cut the ride time to the summit by more than half to just over 4 minutes. The lift has a vertical rise of over 1,000 feet and services 17 trails. Now, both lifts to Mount Sunapee’s 2,743 foot summit will be Poma high-speed quads.

“In recent years this has been the #1 request from our guests,” says Jay Gamble, general manager of Mount Sunapee Resort. “With the ride time to the summit cut by more than half on the second longest lift at Mount Sunapee, our guests will enjoy a lot more skiing and riding during the day. The Sunbowl is very popular, especially when the morning sun is shining on the trails.”

“What is really exciting is that this high-speed lift in the Sunbowl will trigger a series of lift and trail improvements over the next several years at Mount Sunapee which have already been approved in our Master Development Plan,” added Gamble. A fixed-grip quad chair will be installed on North Peak and a triple chair will be installed from the bottom of the Sunbowl to the summit of North Peak. This lift reconfiguration will be accompanied by new ski terrain from the top of North Peak down into the base of the Sunbowl and snowmaking on additional trails.

Mountain Operations Manager, Alan Ritchie says, “The lift reconfiguration will have a positive effect on the skiing/riding patterns and experience at Mount Sunapee. We will have faster distribution of guests around the mountain and access to some exciting new terrain in the Sunbowl. The speed of the Sunbowl Express Quad and an additional lift up out of the Sunbowl will increase the number of runs our guests can enjoy during the day as well as spread them out more evenly throughout the mountain.”

For more information visit or call 603-763-3500.

Home Renovation Loans

A Conversation with Brian Neidhardt

Q: How do you feel about the challenges of home renovation?

Brian: It can be a both daunting and exciting proposition. As the popularity of HGTV shows like ‘Property Brothers’ and ‘Rehab Addict’ have grown so have the questions from potential buyers about taking on renovation projects. One question that comes up most often is “can I get a loan that helps with remodeling costs?”

One mortgage product out there for home renovations is the FHA 203k. It is a federally backed loan given to buyers who want to buy an older or damaged home that needs repairs. For instance, say you have a house that needs a new kitchen. An FHA 203k lender would give you the money to buy (or refinance) the house plus the money to do the necessary renovations. Rates vary by lender so it is still important to shop around for the best deal possible.

There are two main types of FHA 203k mortgage loans. The first is the regular 203k, which is given for properties that need structural repairs such as a new roof or a addition. The second is the streamlined 203k is for non-structural repairs such as painting and new appliances. Qualifying homes include one to four family homes that are at least one year old. Some condos also qualify as well.

Applying for the loan can be time consuming because you need to have independent contractors and or inspectors prepare a detailed report of the scope of the work and the cost estimates for each item. If you have been contemplating renovating an older home, which we have many of in New Hampshire, then this type of loan can be a very good option.

For more information Brian can be contacted in our Meredith office at 603-738-3798.


Sotheby’s International Realty Announces Relationship with Bloomberg

unnamedSotheby’s International Realty® announced the launch of a content marketing relationship with Bloomberg, a global business and financial information and news leader, designed to showcase the Sotheby’s International Realty® network’s listings to readers.

As part of the relationship, in 2014 the Sotheby’s International Realty brand’s content units will appear in exclusive positions throughout’s property section on its Luxury Property channel. Bloomberg created the program exclusively for the Sotheby’s International Realty brand, which will showcase its network’s inventory of properties through a location comparison, new to market spotlight, search widget and lifestyle feature.

“The Sotheby’s International Realty brand’s target consumer is a direct fit with Bloomberg’s core audience, which is made up of today’s affluent leaders,” said Wendy Purvey, chief marketing officer, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC. “Bloomberg’s global readership is made up of those consumers searching for a second or third home that will meet their lifestyle needs, and who recognize the unique value real estate plays in building wealth.”

“Bloomberg is excited to have the Sotheby’s International Realty brand as a content marketing partner,” said Hugh Wiley, head of strategic account partnerships for Bloomberg Media. “The Sotheby’s International Realty brand content aligns perfectly with the Luxury Property section of’s Luxury Channel. Providing luxury property offerings around the world will appeal to’s audience, which is both affluent and global. This exclusive partnership further extends both the Bloomberg and Sotheby’s International Realty brands into the world of luxury lifestyle.”

Massachusetts Firm Joins Sotheby’s International Realty Brand

Sotheby’s International Realty®  today announced that Harborside Realty in Marblehead, Mass., is the newest member of its real estate network and will now operate as Harborside Sotheby’s International Realty.

Michael Cannuscio, Dick McKinley and Matt Dolan are broker/owners of the firm, which is located at 72 Front Street in Marblehead, and serves Marblehead and the adjacent markets. With the addition of this firm, the Sotheby’s International Realty® brand now has 31 offices throughout Massachusetts.

“Michael and his team of 30 associates have a true understanding and appreciation for their market’s unique attributes,” said Philip White, president and chief executive officer, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC. “They are known for their focus on service, and we proudly welcome them to our worldwide network and the outstanding group of offices that serve Massachusetts.”

According to Cannuscio, the Sotheby’s International Realty brand offers his firm a global reach that complements their local market experience. “With the support of the Sotheby’s International Realty brand, we will receive worldwide exposure for our market and the outstanding properties we represent,” he said. “Our market area has distinct characteristics filled with historic districts and wonderful seaside neighborhoods that necessitate an in-depth local knowledge, which our agents are known for. We are focused on achieving our clients’ objectives and their satisfaction with a high level of professionalism, market knowledge and service.”