'Buyer fatigue?' Rockingham County's red-hot real estate sales cool. Why?

PORTSMOUTH — A lack of inventory, coupled with some buyer fatigue, contributed to fewer sales of single-family homes and residential condominiums in Rockingham County in October.

October home sales were down 21.4% to $188.2 million and condo sales were down 13.6% to $64.1 million, according to the monthly trends report issued by the New Hampshire Association of Realtors.

The price of a house also dipped compared to recent months, but the $500,050 median price still put a home in the county above the half-million-dollar mark for the sixth month in a row.

340 Odiorne Point Road was sold for a whopping $4.53 million, which is the second-highest selling home in Portsmouth this year. In October 2021, home sales slowed in Rockingham County due to a lack of inventory.
340 Odiorne Point Road was sold for a whopping $4.53 million, which is the second-highest selling home in Portsmouth this year. In October 2021, home sales slowed in Rockingham County due to a lack of inventory.

Median condo price drops

The median price of a condo, according to the NHAR data, was $369,500 for the month, well below the high-water mark of $405,000 recorded in July.

More: Seacoast home sales cooling off? Here's why numbers fell in October.

“There is an unscientific element of buyer fatigue in the market because active listings are so scarce and competition remains very keen,” said John Rice, a broker with Tate & Foss Sotheby’s International Realty in Rye. “It can be discouraging to buyers.”

Rice also keeps the stats for the Portsmouth-based Seacoast Board of Realtors, which also recorded a drop in home and condo sales during October.

More: Seacoast's million-dollar homes: Tracking the rise of high-end home sales

The board takes its sales data from 13 sample communities: Exeter, Greenland, Hampton, Hampton Falls, New Castle, Newfields, Newington, North Hampton, Newmarket, Portsmouth, Rye, Seabrook and Stratham.

According to the data assembled by Rice, a record low available listed properties in October led to 100 single family sales, off 14.5% from 2020, and the slowest month since July.

With 69 of those 100 sales going for less than $700,000, the monthly median price fell to $532,000, the lowest level since May 2020.

A similar situation with condo inventory led to 62 unit sales in the month, down 23.4% from last year, according to the data. The October median sale price was $412,000, up 7% from September and up 14% from last year.

More: Portsmouth's high-demand market to add 56 single-family homes off Peverly Hill Road

October was slow for single-family sales and prices

“It might be a bit early to call this a trend,” said Ted Mantos, president of the Seacoast Board of Realtors and a broker with the Bean Group in Portsmouth, “but October was definitely a slow month for single-family sales and sale prices. Inventory remains the market’s biggest challenge.”

According to Rice, sellers need to price their property correctly and not over-price it.

“As always, it boils down to price,” he said. “Where property is priced to the market, there is going to be strong interest, and there are still going to be multiple offers and a short marketing time. Where a property is clearly overpriced, buyers are probably more sensitive to this and property sits.”

This short marketing time can be seen in the days on market statistic, which is a measure of how long a property is on the market before it sells. October’s numbers continue to show a short window of sale, the mark of a continued seller’s market. The days on market for a house in Rockingham County was 17 for a house and 25 for a condo.

Average days on the market

According to Zillow, on average in the U.S. in 2020, properties spent 25 days on the market before going under contract, down from 30 days in 2019.

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Despite the dip in the median price, Rockingham County remains the priciest of the 10 counties in the Granite State to buy a home. At $500,050, it well out paced No. 2 Belknap County at $405,000 for the month of October.

The median price of a condo stood in the middle of the pack among the counties.

Neighbor Strafford County bucked the trend shown by other counties of declining single-family home volume. It was one of only two counties - the other being Hillsborough - to show a bump in home sales.

Statewide, according to the NHAR, home sales volume dropped by 8.8% and condo sales volume dropped by 5.5% compared to October 2020. Meanwhile, median prices went up - to $380,000 for a house and $310,000, both significant increases over last year. Both types of properties sold in less than a month - an average 24 days for a house, an average of 23 days for a condo.

The NHAR noted in its analysis that the squeeze on home sales is also putting the squeeze on the rental market.

“Single-family rent prices are increasing rapidly, as demand for single-family housing and inventory constraints forces some buyers to rent, increasing competition and pushing rents up across the nation,” it said.

This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Rockingham County NH real estate market cools a bit in October 2021