2008: Given the state of the economy, really not all that bad. Read on.
To begin with, the graph evidence underscores the relative health and stability of Squam shorefront over the last 3 years. Yes, clearly ‘08 was 46% below ‘07 and ‘06 in total numbers but surprisingly, in average sale dollar comparisons, ‘08 was very close to ’07 (-12%) and clearly superior to‘06. In Total Gross, as one would logically anticipate with reduced sale numbers, Squam showed a significant decline from both previous years (-59% in ‘07 and -50% in ‘06). But more importantly, perhaps, is how strong, once again, the individual shorefront values showed up in our comparative Shorefront Value Regression Curve study. The Regression Curve analysis is the clearest and most meaningful indicator of ‘08 shorefront property value as compared to ‘07 and ‘06 years.
Certainly, the stability of shorefront value is the most important element in overall property value. It prevails over fluctuations in market activity in our Squam shorefront studies of over 20 years. The importance of the stability cannot be overstated. How resistant was Squam in ’08 to the negative market pressures dramatically effecting non-lakeshore properties? Apparently significantly resistant. Thus far, there has been little evidence of shorefront properties coming on the market at an unusual rate, nor have asking prices shown any unusual changes adjusting marketing concerns. On balance, however, the Time on Market component for ‘08 was predictably longer than experienced in normal economic years. Clearly, we have yet to weather the ‘09 season and we have, at this date in March, one shorefront property transfer on Big Squam which has reassuring valuation statistics. All factors considered it is fair to say that this is not unexpected. The manner in which Squam withstood the ‘87 stock market crash and the ’73-‘74 oil embargo, as well as other economic downturns, is comforting history.
It needs to be recognized, once again, that ownership of shorefront property, as a Use Investment category continues to remain relatively reliable and stable, particularly over the long term. There is very limited lakeshore and, as such, it is clear that as our population continues to grow, lakeshore will be commensurately in greater demand. This reality is the fundamental reason, in our analysis, why the shorefront values in ‘08 have maintained their value strength. ‘09 remains to be seen. Stay tuned. We will report quarterly data here as it occurs.
The two ‘08 sales on Little Squam averaged $751,425, thus adding meaningfully to the overall positive assessment of both lakes as a whole. Considering that in ‘07 Little Squam had only one sale and that one was $300,000, last year has to be regarded as a particularly good one.
The stability in the real-estate market is due in some measure to the continued brisk pace of land conservation in the Squam watershed. In good times and bad, conserved land provides a steady return on investment by ensuring clean water, natural beauty, wildlife habitat, place to play, and quiet – all attributes contributing to a healthy and stable real-estate market. In 2008, the Squam Lakes Conservation Society (SLCS) conserved an additional eight Squam properties, permanently protecting an additional 505 acres of critical habitat. Completed projects include the Beij Preserve, now a 375-acre block of conservation land in Holderness; the Haskell Conservation Area, 49 acres and 4,800’ of shoreline on White Oak Pond; the Jack and Marjorie Glidden Forest, a 112-acre Ashland farm, and Little Loon Island, Squam’s well known and successful bald eagle nesting site. The Federal government has helped by extending the favorable tax incentive for donors of conserved land by increasing the income tax deduction to 50% of Adjusted Gross Income and the carry forward period to 15 years. Land conservation efforts in the Squam watershed will continue to be a strong focal point for the community, and will no doubt increase the already impressive 23% of land permanently protected in the Squam watershed.
SQUAM RIVER LANDING AND RIVEREDGE MARINA IN ASHLAND
Squam River Landing continues to grow as a valued member of our community and evolve through a recessionary economy. Forward momentum continues on all three components of this unique project: First, the land, where a complete architectural and development redesign involving the homes and land is underway, mindful of conservation, while recognizing positive environmental and cultural changes rapidly occurring during these times. Squam River Landing is becoming a “green” cottage community of single family homes. The architecture of these homes will reflect the lakeshore camps of days past, while the construction will use sustainable design features. The benefits of a “green” home include using less energy, water and natural resources; create less waste during construction; while creating a healthier, more comfortable home for residents and reducing environmental impacts. The land plan remains similar to the original project design, clustering homes on either side of the protected ridgeline, surrounded by open space and respectful of views looking up from Little Squam.
Second, The Boat Club, which provides fee simple condominium ownership of boat houses and boat slips, has sold over 80% of its inventory, leaving only 12 open slips and 3 boat houses available for purchase. These remaining assets are priced at 20 – 30% less than their prior list prices. The contributory value of coupling lake access with an off lake residence can serve to offset declining home values. Owned lake access is a scarce, appreciating asset, on average of 12-18% since the early 1990’s.
This coming summer, their community programs include the adaptive water ski program for disabled athletes, including a weekend Wounded Warriors event in August; and a Sprint Triathlon (www.circletriathlon.org) with three race levels ranging from challenging, to fun for all ages, scheduled for Sunday, September 6th with all funds raised benefiting the Circle Program.
In closing…it is clear to us all, who have had Squam in our lives over the years, that we have been enriched in a deep and profound way as we and our families experience the peace and tranquility of Squam’s nature, indeed its enduring spirit. This is to be cherished and protected as a haven in a world that clearly is much in need.
With our sincerest apperception, the permission to reprint was given by Jack Armstrong owner of New Hampshire Colonials