Land Use, Development Potential, and How Important it is in Real Estate


Region-wide Buildout Impact Analysis from the Nashua Regional Planning Commission.  Thank you Jen Czysz for helping me find this study.

There are areas in southern NH that are ripe for development.  I happen to be working on a group of properties in Litchfield and was doing an analysis on vacant land.  It got me thinking of what the development potential is in the surrounding towns.  Read the conclusion…you’ll like it too if you don’t fall asleep.

According to the town of Litchfield, NH’s Master Plan (Table V111-2 p.9) there are: 5,620 acres of land in-use(built upon), 1,541 acres constrained(cannot develop), and 2,622 acres are unconstrained (able to develop).  This data is from 1999, yeah it’s old.


Build-out analysis is one step in the land use planning process to help municipalities plan for growth.   “Buildout is a theoretical condition and exists when all available land suitable for residential and nonresidential construction has been developed.”*

The charts below give you a better perspective of what may be available to develop.  Many towns have a proactive zoning ordinance that tracks the growth and can restrict building permits if/when the infrastructure cannot meet the needs.

The top, Nashua, has the least availability…the 2nd largest city in NH by population, no surprise.  I was completely taken back by Pelham…I double checked: 50%?  Read the NRPC PDF which explains the process of what factors they used.  Note: the data is from 2005, this would change if the town zoning requirements where modified otherwise it should keep fairly consistent being a percentage.



Data from NRPC Regional Build-out Study- link above

So all of these towns/city are in southern NH…easy commute to Boston.  Why do Pelham, Litchfield, and Hudson have so much potential?  Look at a map…highway access!! 

SO REMEMBER…widen a highway, and you will have a lot of new development in these towns.

-Just my thoughts.  –Jenn


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Development Projects Gone Bad


This is a follow up from:

Jackson Falls and the Nashua Riverwalk trail.

Jackson Falls and the Nashua Riverwalk trail.

So the title was to get your attention, while the design of this development may have had some flaws (downtown with limited public parking can have a negative impact), somebody was thinking outside the box and I’ve always been fond of this development.

The development I want to discuss is not a rehab of a mill, but new construction that tries to blend in with the architecture of downtown Nashua, NH. Jackson Falls Condominiums were built back in the mid-2,000’s.  Beautiful inside and out with high-end finishes…but the limited parking, narrow entrance, high initial offering price, and then the real estate crash caused the project to go into foreclosure.

The main driveway into the development from Main St, Nashua, NH

The main, single lane, driveway into the development from Main St, Nashua, NH


Below is the plan, each unit has one parking spot in the garage on the main level, and the guest parking is only around 10 spaces. The Nashua River is on one side, and fenced railroad tracks on the other, it would be nice if there was a pedestrian crosswalk for the residents to walk over to Canal Street from the parking lot.


Jackson Falls Plan - click to enlarge

Jackson Falls Plan – click to enlarge to see additional comments

With the continued redevelopment of this area, additional parking is sorely needed.  We have the very popular Portland Pie that opened on the other side of the tracks :), and parking is a problem there too.  We have Railroad Square which has a decent parking lot, but it’s usually pretty full with some great pickings like Fody’s Tavern, and the Riverwalk Coffee Roasters, and then there is parking along either Main or Canal Streets.

Upscale downtown living.

Upscale downtown living.

After a new builder/developer took over the units at Jackson Falls Condominiums, they sold for far less, but still with high-end finishes.  Even with what I consider development flaws I still love the idea behind it, and it is a beautiful building.  Fantastic downtown location, the concept of living near your work and not needing a car…or maybe having just one car, and being adjacent to the Nashua Riverwalk are reasons alone to want to live here.


Another post I did on new construction gone bad:

I would love to see more developments like this downtown, this one was a little ahead of it’s time, and as the city improves the parking situation, the marketability should improve.

-Just my thoughts.  -Jenn

*The units shown in this blog are all vacant or of the model unit.  The photos are taken from my cheap camera I use for appraising….so they are not that great, but you get the idea.

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Q&A Timberframe Value for Construction Loan

I received an email asking about the potential value difference between a new construction timberframe (post and beam, timber-frame, timber peg) home and the cost to construct it.Beam Timber Wood


 I plan to build a small timber frame home on a lot I own in NH but I am worried about the appraisal for the construction loan. In your experience, do new construction timberframe homes appraise significantly lower than cost to build? Thank you.

Hi Gene,

  There are so many variables that go into valuing a home.  Quality of construction is one of them…timberframe homes are certainly one of my personal favorites, and would typically merit a quality adjustment.  I say typically because some towns do not lend themselves to custom built homes so therefore no quality adjustment would be given.   

  Try to keep the value close to the median of that town, don’t be the most expensive home.  Seeing as it’s a small home, and perhaps a more simple frame, you may be fine. 

  So my answer is that “it depends” but most likely a timberframe home would not appraise lower than typical construction…if anything it may be slightly higher due to the unique construction.

041213_1459_NashuaNHRea3.jpgWhen building a new home there are many things you need to keep into consideration if you need to get a loan.   Don’t over build in size, in upgrades, in amenities…just don’t overbuild.  If you are building your dream home, plan on living there for a long time, and have the extra cash when the appraisal comes in low then go for it.  The timing for new construction has to be right too, with values going down over the last few years you could buy a existing, prebuilt, home for far less than new construction.  That’s changing now that the housing market has been stable in most areas in southern and eastern New Hampshire.  Housing starts are starting to increase!

-Just my thought.  –Jenn Cote

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Subdivisions, Builders, and Appraisers.

Subdivisions, builders, and appraisers. I’m putting out a plea…builders please befriend an appraiser! Seriously, find a knowledgeable local appraiser and set up a relationship.

Of course Realtors are an excellent resource as well, but you would need to find one that is experienced in subdivisions, one willing to figure out what options in new construction would bring the biggest return or help with shorter marketing times.

Subdivision Plan

Subdivision Plan

Check out another of my posts on new construction:

Every town, sub-market (entry-level, green, luxury, etc.), and style property will have different factors that affect value. Appraisers do this all the time, and they typically cover a wider geographic area than a Realtor.

The reason for my plea is I’m working on an appraisal in a new subdivision and I wonder why this subdivision is even here? This little town is still plagued by foreclosures, geographically ill-placed on the southern border of NH with only one main road in, and low-end inventory. I should first say the surrounding towns are beautiful quintessential New England communities that are far more desirable, in which market conditions have been fairly average over the past year and with good road access. The market for the past 12-18 months (in most areas of southern New Hampshire) has been for entry-level properties that are either in great condition or of investor interest.

I’m sure the land was cheap for the builder and construction started well over a year ago, but the conditions even then were not so hot. The house is over sized for this town at 2,200SF with 4-bedrooms and 2.5 baths and has been on the market for over a year. Your typical home in this town is about 1,500SF and the median price over the past year was $160,000.

A good thing is the builder has only built 3 homes in this 12 lot subdivision so changes can be made…I wonder if the Realtor will help guide the builder into constructing smaller houses until the market improves. Anyway, the house is selling for far less than it should at $207,000 because it’s over built, and currently there is little interest for real estate in this town.

So I make this plea…get acquainted with a local appraiser. I’m sure appraisers could learn quite a bit from you too!

Just my thoughts. -Jenn

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