MANCHESTER, NH – It’s been a good year for historic preservation in Manchester.
Yesterday another 19th-century gem located on a block once known as “millionaire’s row” got a new lease on life and its legacy as a stately nod to the intricacies of Victorian architecture, the Hubbard-Varney mansion on Myrtle Street, which sold for $750,000 after two years on the market.
Realtor Paula Martin of the Paula Martin Group, an agent for Keller Williams Realty Metropolitan, said in all her years selling real estate, this home exudes an elegance and attention to detail that is hard to rival.
“The quality of that house, you don’t see that anymore. Like the Chandler House, it’s just so elegant and incredible,” says Martin, who relisted the house earlier this year six weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s a new chapter for a magnificent property.”
As an international luxury agent, Martin was able to market the property far and wide, with listings in national publications uncluding the Wall Street Journal.
“We had people from France call, and there were multiple offers on the property, but in the end, the buyer was stateside, although not from New Hampshire,” says Martin.
She notes that COVID-19 changed the pace of real estate, especially during what is one of the busiest times, May-June, but she had a gut-feeling that some of those changes would work to her advantage.
“Easily, for the last five years when I meet with a seller or buyer, I’d say this is the lowest inventory reported, but this year is in fact the lowest – and there are a lot of reasons why,” says Martin.
For one thing, people are just hunkering down who want to sell but don’t want people coming through their houses. And the other side of selling is finding a place to buy.
“I have six people who want to list but can’t find anything to buy. If all of us could get sellers to put their houses on the market, it might move the needle. Interest rates are low and there couldn’t be a better time to sell. There’s just not a lot to buy right now,” Martin says.
Perhaps even more compelling is the trend toward remote work.
“People do not have to live in downtown Boston for a job in downtown Boston,” Martin says. “Now they have the opportunity to go anywhere and select anything, so what you have is a lot more pressure for properties that suit them. There’s been a lot of analysis done on what buyers want, and it’s very specific. It’s not about location anymore. Remote working opens up everything, and because we’re in a southern New Hampshire market we have desirable inventory for buyers like that.”
It’s also why selling prices remain high.
“Someone from Connecticut comes up and says ‘I’ll give you $400,000 for that property,’ which is another trend. Over the last few years, people weren’t paying at or over asking price at the same pace, but now because the market is so slim many of our homes in the Paula Martin Group are under agreement within five days of listing. We’ll show on a Saturday and it will be signed by Tuesday,” Martin says.
The Hubbard House was built in 1867 according to city records and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. It’s the kind of property that can just as easily host an elegant soiree or serve as a comfortable family home.
“It sold at what we listed it for, and the house is worth every penny – any Realtor needs to do their job and list a house that’s reasonable for the buyer’s agent and appraiser, but if you had to rebuild this house today it would cost millions to do it – especially in this time of COVID-19, when building costs have gone way up,” Martin says.
With the Frank Lloyd Wright homes, the Chandler House and now the Hubbard-Varney mansion all nestled around the Currier Museum of Art, Martin says the creation of an historic enclave speaks volumes of Manchester, a place that not only honors its history but invests in it as part of the city’s grand legacy as a bridge between its past and its future.
I can’t say enough for (Currier Executive Director) Alan Chong and his team to identify the value of these homes and preserve them and give the public the opportunity to enjoy them, and for us to be in the same little museum district as the Chandler House, the Zimmerman House and the Kalil House,” says Martin, who was the listing agent for the Kalil house.
As for why after two years of languishing on the market the Hubbard-Varney house sold during an international pandemic, Martin says likely it was the perfect storm of circumstances – limited inventory and COVID-19 migration by those seeking a dream home, unfettered by the need to stay put.
In the end, however, it is the magnificence of the house, a unique Italianate Victorian villa, distinguishable from traditional Victorian architecture for its more square structure.
“Victorians are more curvy and heavier, Italianate is more elegant and more about the exterior facade, the way the roof comes down, not like a gable A-shape, but with different angles,” says Martin, fine details that extend throughout the interior, due to original owner Thomas Hubbard’s occupation.
“Mr. Hubbard was in the milling business and when you stand inside, the shadows play on the woodwork creating different patterns, things you’d never see if you did a quick walk-through. There’s so much love and attention to detail because Mr. Hubbard was a farmer’s son who became affluent and had the ability to build this fabulous house,” Martin says. “It’s the best of the best”