Buying a House in New Hampshire? Here Are 8 Steps Real Estate Experts Recommend

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By Thomas O'Shaughnessy Updated March 1, 2024

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8 Steps to Buying a House in New Hampshire

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Now that the housing market is finally calming down after the pandemic[1], buyers are facing a new challenge: Soaring mortgage rates.[2]

In New Hampshire, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate is 7.01% — up from 2021's historic lows. This raises the average monthly mortgage payment to $2,372 (assuming a 20% down payment at the median home value).

But buying a home in New Hampshire is still possible, even for first-time home buyers. Many markets are seeing frequent price drops and fewer offers, giving motivated buyers the upper hand in negotiating for the best price.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to buy a house in New Hampshire with confidence no matter what the market brings. Learn why you can trust our advice.

Whether you're actively house hunting or just starting to browse homes on Zillow, it's never too early to find a great local realtor to guide you on your search. An experienced agent can help you navigate a tricky housing market, explore your financial options, and negotiate the best deal possible.

Best of all, hiring a real estate agent comes at no extra cost to you — since the seller typically pays both their listing agent and your buyer's agent.

Ready to find a great local realtor, but not sure where to start? The best (and easiest!) option is to try a free agent matching service like Clever Real Estate. Answer a few simple questions about your home buying goals, and Clever will match you with hand-picked agents from Keller Williams, RE/MAX, and other top brokerages in your area. Find a top local agent and make your home buying dreams a reality today!

Step 1: Save for a down payment

🔑 Key takeaway:

Your down payment can be less than 20% of the purchase price — $89,053 for the typical home in New Hampshire — but you'll have to purchase mortgage insurance and pay more interest over the life of your loan.

Your down payment is the first part of your home's purchase price that you pay at closing. Your mortgage lender will pay the remaining balance.

Typically, mortgage lenders in New Hampshire want you to contribute 20% of the purchase price as a down payment. That would be $89,053 for a $445,263 home — the typical home value in New Hampshire.

However, you have options to lower your down payment amount.

Government backed loans, like VA and FHA loans, allow you to contribute 0% and 3.5% of your home's purchase price respectively. Even conventional loans allow for down payments as low as 3-5% (though the minimum varies by lender).

But making a down payment of less than 20% comes with some risks.

First, because you're borrowing more money, you'll have a higher monthly payment and pay more in interest over the life of your loan.

Second, you may have to purchase mortgage insurance.

Conventional loans require private mortgage insurance (PMI) until your loan balance reaches 80% of the purchase price. FHA loans, on the other hand, require a mortgage insurance premium (MIP) for the life of your loans.

Mortgage insurance costs around 1% of your mortgage balance annually. However, rates vary based on your down payment and credit score. Typically, your mortgage insurance payment is added to your mortgage payment each month.

VA loans don't charge mortgage insurance. Instead, you'll pay a VA loan funding fee at closing, which can range from 1.4% to 3.6% of the purchase price.

» READ MORE: Everything you need to know about low-income home loans

New Hampshire down payment assistance programs

There are numerous down payment assistance (DPA) programs for first-time and low-income buyers in the state of New Hampshire. If you're eligible, you can apply for one of these options to receive a government grant or second mortgage to cover closing costs or a down payment.

Here are a few DPA programs in New Hampshire that could help you afford a home:

New Hampshire Housing Home Flex Plus

New Hampshire Housing's Home Flex Plus program offers homebuyers 4% of the base loan amount in financial assistance. The assistance comes as a second mortgage that's fully forgiven after four years.

Eligible participants must take a homebuyer education course and must not earn more than the maximum household income of $137,400.

New Hampshire Housing Home Preferred Plus

The Home Preferred Plus program is eligible for those earning up to 80% of the area median income. The program offers up to 4% of the buyer's base loan amount in cash assistance to cover closing costs or a down payment.

Borrowers must complete a homebuyer education course and not earn more than $137,400 annually to qualify.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

HUD’s list of alternative DPA programs in New Hampshire can be found here.

Step 2: Find a great real estate agent in New Hampshire

🔑 Key takeaway:

Interview multiple agents to find one who knows your target neighborhoods, has experience in your price range, and communicates well.

Your real estate agent will be your main ally during the home buying process. Besides finding and showing you properties, your agent will help you make offers, negotiate contracts, and navigate the closing process. Plus, they can recommend other service providers like title companies and inspectors to help you buy your home in New Hampshire.

Don't rush into choosing an agent. Instead, take the time to research and interview multiple real estate agents who have experience in the neighborhoods you're interested in. You should pay attention to a realtor's:

  • Years of experience
  • Number of transactions in the last year (the more the better!)
  • Experience in your price range
  • Overall review score
  • Individual reviews and complaints
👋 Find the best realtors near you!

Finding a great real estate agent shouldn't be complicated. Let Clever Real Estate do the hard part and match you with experienced local realtors who are experts in your market.

Enter your zip code below to compare top agents from trusted brands like Keller Williams, Berkshire Hathaway, and Coldwell Banker, then choose the best fit for you. It's 100% free, and there's no obligation.

Step 3: Get preapproved for a mortgage

🔑 Key takeaway:

Once you're preapproved for a mortgage, it's imperative that your financial situation doesn't change. If your credit drops, it can derail the process and keep you from closing on your house.

Here are some easy ways to ensure your credit doesn't change after you receive your preapproval letter:

  • Avoid opening new credit accounts
  • Don't close any accounts that have been open for a long time
  • Make all of your credit card payments on time

» LEARN MORE: What factors do mortgage lenders consider?

A mortgage preapproval letter is an offer to lend you up to a certain amount of money to purchase a home. It shows sellers that you are a serious buyer who is financially qualified to make an offer on a home.

Most sellers in New Hampshire will require preapproval before showing you their home.

You don't have to decide on one lender right now. In fact, you should compare interest rates and preapproval amounts from several lenders to make sure you're getting the absolute best terms when you buy your New Hampshire home.

Step 4: Choose the right location

🔑 Key takeaway:

Search for neighborhoods where:

  • Home prices are within your price range
  • Home values are on the rise
  • The local amenities support your lifestyle

Currently, the typical home value in New Hampshire is $445,263, but don't worry if that doesn't perfectly match your budget. Home prices vary dramatically from city to city and even from neighborhood to neighborhood!

Also, look at past home value trends. This will give you an idea of how much your home's value could go up over the next few years.

To give you an idea of how appreciation could impact what your house is worth in the future, consider these examples from three neighborhoods in Manchester:

Home value appreciation in Manchester

Neighborhood 2015 Current Appreciation
Straw-Smyth $221,224 $418,875 47.2%
Northwest Manchester $175,169 $326,515 46.4%
North End $258,212 $477,722 45.9%
Show more

Step 5: Start house hunting in New Hampshire

🔑 Key takeaway:

New Hampshire’s real estate market is strong — prices are on the rise while inventory continues to dip. You may find hunting for the perfect house to be a bit more challenging, so review your priorities and manage your budget expectations. Your agent will be a big help here, as they can filter out listings and show you ones that will fit your taste while still keeping your options affordable.

Searching for homes in New Hampshire is the fun part of the home buying process! You'll get to look at a variety of homes and discover what you really want in a home.

Make a list of everything you want in a home and prioritize them. At the top of the list should be the items that are most important to you. This will help you separate your "must-haves" from your "nice-to-haves."

Your agent can help you understand if your wants are realistic for your budget and favorite neighborhoods or if you need to rethink what you're looking for.

Look at current housing inventory

The timing of your house hunt in New Hampshire can have a big impact on your number of options. For example, in New Hampshire, June has historically seen the most homes for sale. Searching in this season could give you more options and a greater likelihood of finding your dream home.

On the other hand, December gives you the fewest choices in New Hampshire. Historically, there are 64.3% fewer homes for sale than during New Hampshire's peak season.

Housing inventory in New Hampshire by season

Step 6: Make an offer

🔑 Key takeaway:

Demand in New Hampshire is high, as houses are flying off the market and very few listings are left at the end of each month. Given that, act fast when you find a house you like, and we suggest putting in an offer as soon as the same day of viewing to increase your chances of getting the listing. Work out all your contingencies and concessions with your agent ahead of time — that way, you can put in a competitive offer from the start.

Once you find a New Hampshire house you love, it's time to make an offer. Your real estate agent will help you write a compelling offer that gives you the best shot of convincing the homeowner to sell to you.

Currently, in New Hampshire, homes stay on the market for 71 days before going under contract. However, every market goes through seasonal changes. During busier months, homes get snatched up more quickly than others.

Historically, New Hampshire homes sell fastest in June, where the average property is only on the market for 46 days. If your home search falls around this time, you should be prepared to move quickly and potentially make offers on several homes before yours is accepted.

On the other hand, if you buy in February, you have a bit more time to search. Homes typically stay on the market 31 days longer than New Hampshire's annual average.

Average time homes spend on market in New Hampshire

» LEARN MORE: What should an offer include?

Step 7: Inspections and appraisals

Inspections and appraisals are an opportunity for you to better evaluate the home's condition and value before officially purchasing it. You may have an opportunity after this step to renegotiate the terms of your contract with the seller if something unexpected pops up.

🔑 Key takeaway:

  • Inspections: A licensed professional checks the house for any unseen, unexpected, or potential issues.
  • Appraisals: An appraiser hired by your lender examines the house to determine how much it's worth.

Home inspections in New Hampshire

Having your New Hampshire home inspected by a licensed inspector gives you peace of mind about the condition of the property before you commit thousands of dollars to purchase it.

Your inspector should check out the following parts of the property:

  • Roof
  • Foundation
  • Electrical system
  • HVAC system
  • Plumbing

If the home has a septic system, you should also pay for a septic inspection to make sure it doesn't have any problems that wouldn't be covered in a typical home inspection.

New Hampshire-specific inspections

New Hampshire's disclosure laws are less stringent compared to other U.S. states. Homebuyers are strongly recommended to take additional precautions to ensure a property is safe and in good condition before closing.

Although a general home inspection will uncover most issues, buyers may want to consider having the following specialized tests done as well:

  • Radon testing: New Hampshire tends to have elevated levels of radon, which can cause long-lasting health issues if the substance enters a home. If the seller hasn't tested the property for radon in the past year, it's recommended to do a test as soon as possible. You can order a free radon test kit here.
  • Pest inspection: Only seven counties in New Hampshire require buyers to complete a pest inspection before closing, but it's a good idea for all homebuyers. Termites and other pest infestations can cause property damage and pose health risks before a seller is aware of their presence. A quick inspection will ensure that a home is free from any unwanted critters before you move in.

Appraisals

Appraisals determine the value of the property. If you're using a mortgage to buy your new home, your lender will order an appraisal to make sure the home is worth the money that it's loaning you.

» LEARN: 3 options for buyers after a low appraisal

Step 8: Close on your new home!

🔑 Key takeaway:

Before you close on your new home, you and your agent will do a final walkthrough of the property to ensure that it's still in the expected condition.

Closing on your New Hampshire home will require you to complete the legal documentation and settle your closing costs.

On closing day, you'll meet at the title company to finalize your paperwork. Expect to spend about an hour reading and signing all the required documents, which will include:

  • Your final loan application
  • The deed
  • The mortgage promissory note
  • The disclosure statements

This paperwork is crucial for legally transferring the title to your name and finalizing your loan, so read everything carefully before signing. If there's anything you don't understand, ask your agent for assistance.

After you're done with the paperwork, you’ll have to pay your closing costs. The title company will make this process easy by collecting the total amount you owe and distributing the funds to the correct recipients on your behalf.

As a homebuyer, your closing costs can be divided into four separate categories:

  • Lender fees: Fees paid to your mortgage lender for originating and underwriting your loan. Other costs related to your loan may also apply, such as appraisal fees and survey fees.
  • Title and escrow charges: Fees the title company charges for facilitating the closing process. These charges will also cover the costs of the title search and title insurance.
  • Prepaid costs: Ongoing costs of owning a home. Most lenders require buyers to pay for certain expenses up front, such as property taxes and homeowners insurance.
  • Other closing costs: Miscellaneous expenses that can vary based on each buyer's situation. Some common expenses may include natural disaster certification fees or real estate attorney fees.

Buyers in New Hampshire typically pay 3–5% of the purchase price in closing costs. For a $445,300 home — the typical home value in New Hampshire — that's between $13,359 and $22,265!

⚡Make your home-buying dreams a reality!

Ready to make your home-buying dreams a reality? The first step is to find a top local realtor who's an expert negotiator with proven experience in your market.

Enter your zip code below to compare the best agents from trusted brands like Keller Williams, Berkshire Hathaway, and Coldwell Banker, then choose the best fit for you. It's 100% free and there's no obligation.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need a real estate attorney in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire does not require you to hire a real estate attorney to buy a home. However, depending on your circumstances, you might consider hiring one anyways. If you do, treat the process similarly to hiring an agent. Interview multiple attorneys and proceed with the one that best meets your needs.

What are the steps to buy a house in New Hampshire?

  1. Save for down payment
  2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage
  3. Choose your preferred New Hampshire neighborhoods
  4. Partner with the right real estate agent in New Hampshire
  5. Go house hunting
  6. Make a strong offer
  7. Inspections and appraisals
  8. Do a final walkthrough and close

Does New Hampshire have a first time home buyer program?

Yes! New Hampshire Housing offers its Home Start Homebuyer Tax Credit to first-time buyers and buyers located in target counties. This program reduces the amount of federal taxes that a buyer needs to contribute by up to $2,000 per year. This tax credit is active for up to 30 years, as long as the buyer remains in their home.

Household income and home purchase price limits apply and vary by county.

» READ: What are the top first-time homebuyer programs?

Why trust us?

Clever Real Estate is a free agent-matching service that has helped more than 82,000 people buy and sell homes. We partner with over 2,700 top-performing agents nationwide at national brokers including Keller Williams, RE/MAX, Century 21, and more. We also help buyers save money with cash back after closing — no strings attached.

We’ve earned buyers’ trust with a rating of 4.9 out of 5 starts on Trustpilot and over 1,800 customer reviews.

Our team of industry-leading researchers are committed to making homeownership more accessible by educating buyers through guides like this one. We've spent thousands of hours analyzing publicly available data, surveying consumers, and interviewing industry experts. Our research has been featured in The New York Times, Business Insider, Inman, Housing Wire, and many more.

Learn more about Clever.

Article Sources

[1] Federal Reserve – "Housing Market Tightness During COVID-19: Increased Demand or Reduced Supply?". Updated July 08, 2021. Accessed October 11, 2022.
[2] Consumer Protection Financial Bureau – "The Fed is raising interest rates. What does that mean for borrowers and savers?". Updated March 17, 2022. Accessed October 11, 2022.

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