CLAREMONT — The ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic has made Claremont a seller’s market for homes with fewer house listings spurring competition between prospective buyers and increasing the closing prices, according to Claremont realtor Bonnie Miles.
In an interview with the Eagle Times, Miles, a Coldwell Banker realtor in Claremont, said that single-family homes have been harder to buy since March due to a decline in house listings during the initial months of the pandemic. Only 53 residential homes were listed in Claremont between March 1 and June 30, compared to 67 listings the previous year during that same time frame. Most of those homes had a contract pending for purchase just two weeks after listing.
The higher demand for homes has often led to numerous offers being placed on the same house and driving the closing price higher than what was listed.
“I had one client whose theory was to, in the beginning, offer less than full price,” Miles said. “I told him he can’t do that now. He will have to offer more than full price.”
The competition arguably puts lower-income buyers, particularly people using a secondary assistance program like the Federal Housing Authority or New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, at a disadvantage when making an offer, according to Miles.
“A seller would rather deal with someone who puts something down, because usually those [buyers] aren’t looking for help with the closing cost,” Miles explained. “Which is tough, because many of these [secondary program users] are good buyers. They’re good, hardworking people and they just can’t get a house.”
Over the last four months, 32 single-family homes closed in Claremont, which does not include mobile or condominium units, Miles said. The median closing cost of these homes was $144,950.
Thirty-seven Claremont homes have a contract pending. Of those houses, two are listed over $300,000; two are listed between $200,000 and $300,000; 15 are listed between $150,000 and $200,000; and 17 are listed below $150,000.
Miles said she implements many safety precautions when showing homes to buyers, both for general public health and to aleve potential concerns of home sellers during the pandemic.
“Only the people buying the house will come to see it,” Miles said. “They’re told not to bring their kids or other people. Everyone wears a mask.”
Miles said she keeps a steady supply of masks and gloves, disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer on hand when showing houses. She will respect people’s opinions regarding the virus but nonetheless insists on buyers wearing a mask and washing or sanitizing their hands before entering the house.
Houses for sale in Claremont may be starting to increase again, Miles suggested. Six new houses, four single-family homes and two multi-family houses joined the market over the last six days.
“I think things may be loosening up a bit in terms of people getting out more, more places opening up and more houses coming on the market,” she said.
Miles said she is hopeful that opportunities for users of secondary-financing programs will arise as the housing market loosens in the city.
However, such a shift could potentially mean a nearing end to the seller’s market in Claremont.
“If people are waiting for the market to get better [to sell their house], the market is better,” Miles said. “If their thinking is to get their price, then this is the time to sell.”