Selling a house is never easy. The biggest challenge is picking the right house price, one that will attract the right buyers. Picking the right price for a condo in a beach community is even harder. And if these challenges weren't enough, the condo was bought just as the housing industry crashed so Hampton Beach has only begun its' recovery in the last two years.
Like every other homeowner challenge I've faced, it makes sense to share my story. It's my condo and we've decided to leave New Hampshire once we sell our home on the beach!
What Features Affect the House Price
Over the 10 years we've owned our Hampton condo, a lot has happened. Probably the most exciting thing was a complete renovation of the Hampton Beach State Park. At the center is the Seashell Oceanfront Pavilion, popular for seaside weddings. There are lots of events from Memorial Day through the Seafood Festival in early September. Of course, many locals prefer off-season where it feels like we own the beach!
For those who love the ocean and daily walks on the beach, it's hard figuring out where you want to live. This is an important decision as it will influence your choice of a home. The choices aren't ones you'll find in most other towns, so let's look at them.
- New condos built in the last few years are replacing old, tacky beach cottages.
- Older condos, some built new and others converted hotel rooms.
- Older houses and cottages reflecting the long history of vacationers visiting Hampton beach.
With this varied mix of houses, how do you determine house prices when you want to sell your home? That's when I realized I needed a way to compare beach condos with each other. Some have ocean views, either full or partial. Others like mine have views of the harbor and/or marshes. Other features that vary quite a bit are parking, grassy yards and home owner association (HOA) dues in addition to your mortgage.
- Location – is the same for all beach condos, sharing the same schools, health services and more. Some condos are restricted meaning you can't register a car or send your children to school in Hampton.
- House – all the condos have at least one deck and some have multiple decks/patios. The bigger condos have fireplaces and most condos are single level with a building elevator. Every condo has parking but very few offer garages so you've got to check for adequate storage.
- Views – are a huge feature of beach homes. Many of the new condos have ocean front views from their living room. The downside is there's lots of car/foot traffic below so you might not be able to enjoy the deck. Other condos like mine, have harbor views. All the condos are within 2 or 3 blocks of the beach.
- Yards – are rare for beach condos as you'll probably spend more time at the beach. However, more people are moving to Hampton Beach for year round living and want a backyard. For example, our condo has a patio and backyard, plus two decks to enjoy the views.
Ways to Compare a House Price
The most common way to compare home prices is for your realtor to provide 4 to 6 comps. These will show you similar houses that have sold in the last 6 to 12 months, and preferably within 1 mile of your home. They don't go into the same detail as an appraisal though, so you have no way of comparing houses that do/don't have a fireplace, garage or backyard.
The most practical approach to comparing similar houses with different features then, is to use the cost per square foot. My realtor gave me links to the listings for all condos sold (and currently listed) in Hampton for the last 18 months. We did this for condos ranging from $450,000 to $650,00, because the comps in November 2016 were in the low $600s. That's when Zillow went crazy and estimated our condo in the $900s. This was due to all the condos at 377 Ocean Boulevard selling in August and September 2016.
- Year built – affects house prices with new construction typically earning a premium of 10 percent. The list price can also be deceiving as upgrades often add 10 to 20 percent to the list price for things as basic as laundry appliances (read: New Construction's Hidden Costs Can Burn Buyers).
- Home Owner Association (HOA) fees – are typical for condos where exterior maintenance, landscaping, snow removal and pools/recreation centers are handled for the condo community. The typical fee in Hampton is about $350 per month, which is equivalent to 30 year mortgage payments for $73,000 at 4% interest.
- Price ranges – based on features discussed above, with more recent prices higher than condos sold last year. The range is very high for the new condo buildings with full ocean views, even though they lack garages, a pool and other amenities.
- Price per square foot – is where you can see how the market values the various properties.
If you know anyone interested in buying a house sized condo in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, have them check the listing on MLS!
PS I also shared how I staged the condo with 7 Steps to Staging a House.