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Just got off the phone with my brother, the real estate agent, asking how things are going with his FSP customers, feedback, etc. and what he said tends to jive with what other agents I've talked to say about us:
We are very difficult customers. So, I thought I'd write a little piece on the areas of difficulty, so that people can be aware of them, and try to be a bit more informative when proper, and circumspect when proper.
1) Free Staters need to understand and accept that they are not like other real estate customers. We need to make our goals and intentions about what sort of property we are looking for clear when we talk to an agent.
Several Porcs have mentioned to me that their agents are generally incredulous at the idea that you would want property that is unzoned, preferably even with no local building inspector. Not all Porcs are looking for this sort of property, but those that do need to understand that this is NOT NORMAL for buyers to want this sort of land, unless they are buying large amounts of raw land. For this reason, you need to be very clear about this if this is your goal, so that the agent doesn't waste his or your time showing you properties that don't meet your criteria.
2) Real estate agents are not suitable targets for libertarian evangelism. The agent is interested in your business, and making you happy. He or she is not interested in sipping the kool-aid. You do not want to give people the idea that libertarians are just another brand of Jehovah's Witness, Mormon, or Hare Krishna. Real Estate agents know EVERYBODY in their communities, and if you convince them you are a fruitcake, that will color your entire experience in the future in that town. It is as wrong to evangelize libertarianism to your real estate agent as it is to ask them out on a date, or even more wrong. Believe me, if you want to come here and fit in, and get elected, it is very important that you do not come across as some sort of evangelist for the great libertarian way. People will have plenty of time after you move in to get to know you and decide that you are a nice person with quaint or eccentric ideas who means well, or discover that they agree with you on many if not most things.
3) Covenants: lots of properties have em. Those that have been under human habitation and development for longer are more likely to have covenants. Even subdivided lots, particularly HIGH VALUE VIEW LOTS, have covenants on them to preserve the real estate value. This is because for the majority of the world, a great view is ruined if someone builds a pig farm or a trailer next door. Unless you are buying raw undivided land, of 10 or more acres, you should always assume the lot has covenants. It is extremely rude to go off on rants about "big brother" at your real estate agent when you find out the lot has covenants (see rule #2).
4) People assume you are normal until you open your mouth. First impressions matter, and if you decide to disclose that you are libertarians, or Free Staters, to your agent, or worse, break rule #1, 2, or 3, you need to be prepared for issues. It is a matter of relevant issues vs boundary issues. That you want no zoning, no boilding code, no covenants, is information your agent needs to know, and know that these things are non-negotiable, is necessary. You do not need to tell them your political orientation or memberships in certain groups. If an agent presses you on why you want the things you want, all you have to say is, "I'm wierd that way" or "I just don't believe in them" and leave it at that. Believe me, they will not think you are wierd for that sort of response, because this is the old Yankee country: people are used to people not wanting to talk about their personal business that is irrelevant to the matter at hand. "discretion is the better part of valor" and all that jazz. When they ask that sort of question, it is NOT an invitation to evangelize libertarianism (see Rule #2).
5) Dealing strictly through e-mail is ODD. Real estate agents want to talk to you on the phone if they can't get you here to show you property. They treat email like a fax machine: to send further detailed info, but not a replacement for verbal or personal contact. Agents also find that people who deal strictly through e-mail are no better than "lookie looeys", i.e. not real customers who are interested in buying. Agents are generally socially oriented people, often extroverts, so the typical behavior of libertarians to be introverted unless we are talking in our libertarian universe, comes across as odd.
6) If you haven't figured it out already, real estate agents are out to make money. They have lives of their own, families, and their interest is in maximizing their income. Thus, they tend to prefer to focus on homes and properties that are high value, which tend to have a lot of characteristics that we as libertarians don't like. They focus on them because to the rest of the world, those characteristics are more valuable than not having them. If you are insistent on not having those characteristics in the property you buy, then be clear about it, but also do not take it personally that the agent doesn't have a lot of regard for such properties.
My brother is different, he focuses mostly on selling land rather than developed properties, but he also has the same money motivations as everyone else, and is very busy and does very well at his trade.
7) You are not going to find 1-2 acre lots for $1000 per acre or less with no zoning, covenants, or codes in any community that has lots of infrastructure and services, or is very close to an economic hub community.
Get over it. We don't like it, but that is one of the things that we need to change here in New Hampshire, and we can't do it without your help. You certainly won't find built homes in neighborhoods without those things. It isn't the end of the world. Some of us tried to create a community that would enable this quickly, but the loudmouths ruined it for us.
8) Real estate agents will typically not respond to your email for a few hours, if not a few days, and because they make good money, they tend to go on vacation occasionally, like normal people. When they are working, they are typically out showing properties, and in much of this state, do not have the ability to receive emails, and sometimes even cell calls, when they are on the road. If you want a bump up the priority queue, then get off the keyboard and give your agent a phone call. Put a personal touch on it, and you will get more attention. Make a trip in state to go and look at properties.
I'm a Porc. I'm also a real estate agent. I'm so glad to see so many people who have moved here, and more in the process. I would like to make a few comments here that may help in the property acquisition process.
First of all, the For Sale By Owner process is awesome! I'm an agent, and I've sold my own property prior to being an agent successfully. There are several things to consider when you approach a FSBO on your own.
Make sure you get a Property Disclosure. It doesn't matter that the owner is selling it by himself, he needs to disclose to you all material defects on the property. If he doesn't have a disclosure for you, ask for one.
Second, get comparable sales for that neighborhood. There are town records that will show you not only the history of the property, but of sales records on that street, in that Z.I.P. code. FSBO's may know what comparables are there, but some simply price the home at what they need to get out of the sale (that can be good or not so good for the buyer.) What a seller needs in order to move has nothing to do with the value of the property. (But try to tell them that!)
Third, FSBO's may be in a great position to negotiate since they are not paying a commission. But they probably know that if they don't sell on their own, they will need to employ a licensed RE agent to get the exposure they need. That's the hard part of selling yourself. You have to pay for all your marketing yourself.
IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING A PROPERTY ALREADY LISTED ON THE MULTI-LISTING SERVICE - - -
I have a few thoughts that I hope you will consider. The "old fashioned" method of contacting the listing agent who has the property listed is . . . well, old fashioned. It also does not necessarily give you, the buyer, the representation you need. For instance, if you want to put an offer on a property when you are dealing with the listing agent, he/she cannot advise you on the price to offer, cannot show you comparable sold properties in the area, nor make any suggestion on contingencies. The listing agent WORKS FOR THE SELLER. They have the seller's best interest in mind. They do NOT have your best interest in mind, and in fact, they by law are not allowed to advise you. This is not good! This is also one of the most misunderstood aspects of buying protocol with listing agents.
MAY I SUGGEST - - -
If you are considering, or in the process of buying real estate in New Hampshire, find an agent that you can work with. If you contact an agent, and he immediately wants to sign you up as a Buyer's Agent, tell him/her that you only want him/her to work as a "non-agent" until you decide if he/she is someone you are comfortable with. You DO NOT HAVE TO SIGN a buyer's agency form. You can refuse, and the agent will so state. But when you find someone you can work with, a BUYERS AGENT has more negotiation power than a NON-AGENT. This works towards the buyer's best interest. Buyers need someone to represent them in order to get the best price, AND the best conditions for the sale.
The way a buyer gets the most attention and loyalty from a real estate agent is when they work for the buyer as a buyer's agent. This is to the buyer's advantage. If you just contact the listing agent, you may pay more for a property, or not get the conditions you want .
The other thing that most RE agents don't say, is you can fire you RE agent. He/she works for you, and if you don't like their service, well . . . they be gone! The agent may want you to sign for 6 months, but if after 3 days it is apparent that there is no chemistry there, fire them! On the other side, an agent who is truly working for you may be busy at times, but they are in your paid-service. After all, when the sale closes, they do get paid for the transaction.
I hope this bit of info helps. I am happy to answer any other questions you may have. I have a lot of helpful info on communities, schools, and RE info on my website www.DaveSellsNH.com and I'm sure I'll be at this summer's Porc Fest. I am more interested in Porcs finding what they want than getting a sale.
Live Free or Die, Dave Walthour