Lakes Region Profiles — Trigger your 'blue mind' in the Lakes Region

Why would the city of Tempe, Arizona spend $44.8 million to construct 225-acre Tempe Lake in the barren Salt River bed? In Moreno Valley, California, developers expended over $5 million to construct a 35-acre lake to be the focal point of their upscale community. An untold amount was spent by the Howard Hughes Corporation to construct Woodlands Waterway outside of Houston and surround it with luxury condos. Why go to these great expenses? Scientists are beginning to study what we know instinctually – hearing, seeing and feeling water has a positive effect on us. We may not know the science behind it but we know it is true. The Lakes Region has 273 lakes, rivers and ponds drawing people from all over the world. The reason? Researchers believe we have a "blue mind."

"We are beginning to learn that our brains are hardwired to react positively to water and that being near it can calm and connect us, increase innovation and insight, and even heal what's broken," says marine biologist Wallace Nichols. His book, Blue Mind, released in July 2015, compiles the latest findings in neuroscience with personal stories from top athletes, leading scientists, military veterans, and gifted artists. We have a blue mind – "a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment" – that is activated when we are near or in water (Gregoire, 2016, Huffington Post).

For decades, scientists have studied the effects of green space and classical music on mental wellness. The results are so pronounced that green space is factored into urban planning and Mozart is played in maternity ward nurseries. Much in the same way, water is now being studied with some surprising findings:

1. Water gives our mind a rest. According to Nichols, "When we're near, on, in or under water, we get a cognitive break...our brains don't shut down — they keep working, but in a different way."
2. Water can induce a meditative state. "When we're by the water, our brains are held in a state of mild attentiveness," says Nichols. This leads to lower stress levels, improved mental clarity and focus, relief from mild anxiety, pain, and depression, and higher sleep quality.
3. Viewing water invokes a sense of awe. "The emotion of awe invokes feelings of a connection to something beyond oneself, a sense of the vastness of nature and an attempt to make sense of the experience. That switches you from a 'me' orientation to a 'we' orientation." Some researchers believe this explains why many of life's important moments such as engagements, weddings and honeymoons overwhelmingly take place by the water.
4. A blue mind is a creative mind. Being by the water can trigger the part of your brain associated with imagination, insight, consolidation of memories, self-referential thought, and introspection (Gregoire).

The positive effects of water beyond enjoyment are undeniable. A study in England showed a gradient where the closer people lived to the shoreline the healthier they were. In nursing homes, it was discovered that patients experienced the same positive mental effects from viewing aquariums even when the fish were removed (Smedley, 2013, The Guardian). There is evidence that activities in water such as surfing have benefitted soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder where drugs and other conventional treatments have failed. Interacting with water was also found to have positive effects on disorders of the brains such as autism (Nichols).

There is no question that the waters of the Lakes Region have many positive effects on those who live and visit here. Countless reviews on TripAdvisor point to this very fact. Bob from New York said "the lake is breathtaking...wonderful and peaceful break from the day to day hectic pace...just sit on the dock and take in the sights and sounds...our happy place." A visitor from Canada said "staying on the shores of this lake was ethereal, with the sounds of water lapping on the shore" while Riki from Oklahoma said that "on this beautiful sparkling lake...time seems to slip away." A visitor from Maine called the lakes "heavenly" and said Winnipesaukee was "the dreamiest lake I have ever been to." Maurene K. said "it was so peaceful to watch the sun dance on the tiny ripples in the lake's surface." A visitor from Nigeria was taken aback by our "unimaginable huge lake with the sun hitting it and reflecting various colors due to the angle of light," and another traveler from India called the Lakes Region "a very calm, peaceful, and scenic place." In writing about Winnipesaukee, Mikeal S. was simply "amazed at how awesome it was." Pat A., who called herself a lifelong enthusiast of the Lakes Region, said, "My best inspirations and ideas come when I am looking out over the lake."

Do you want your blue mind to tap into the benefits of water? Find a green knoll and sit a spell while you listen to Mozart and watch the waves lap the shore of one of the many waterbodies in the Lakes Region. You never know what insight might pop into your mind.

Please feel free to visit to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Mary O'Neill is a sales associate at Roche Realty Group in Meredith and Laconia, and can be reached at 366-6306.



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REAL ESTATE - What's Hot?

By Roy Sanborn

Did you ever wonder why some homes sell quickly and others linger on the market a long time? Well, obviously a lot has to do with whether it is priced right or not, or perhaps it's the location. But, certain home features are very desirable and help sell a home while there are other things that might deter a sale. So here is a list of some things that are hot when it comes to desirable home features.

1. Tasteful, move-in-ready homes. Nobody wants to move into something that has a bunch of projects to do unless you have the guys from This Old House doing a TV show on you. Many buyers cannot begin to picture what can be done and just don't want the hassle.

2. Open concept homes. The days of little square rooms for different purposes are long over. There is not a home show on TV that doesn't revolve around knocking out a wall or two somewhere.

3. Cathedral or vaulted ceilings add volume to even the smallest rooms making them much more airy and light.

4. Lots of light and windows. Man has evolved from living in a dark cave – or at least most men have. Those that live in the light with high quality, large windows tend to be more mobile as their houses sell quicker.

5. Stunning, high-quality kitchens with beautiful cabinetry, lots of storage, high-end appliances, and high-quality countertops. The kitchen is truly the heart of the home and will grab the heart of a buyer more than any other space.

6. First-floor master suites –ya gotta have that master bathroom! Many buyers are getting too old and lame to go upstairs – and even if they aren't, Granny might be living with them someday.

7. Walk-in closets. You know, something the size of a small bedroom for her with a small rack in the corner for him. Throw in some fancy shelves to display her shoes and they will have multiple offers.

8. Hardwood and tile floors. People love hardwood floors. Period. They are easier to keep clean than carpet. Remember, you can't roller skate in a buffalo herd or on shag carpet.

9. Large garages. Despite having an easy winter, we do live in the frozen tundra. Mama don't want to shovel off her car when it is 10 degrees and you don't want to get yelled at!

10. Man caves. Yeah, I know, I said man has evolved from living in a cave, but man caves don't have to necessarily be dark. Neon beer signs help with that. A guy has to have a place where he can be a guy. This is the trade-off for the minimal closet space he has been relegated to.

11. Waterfront, waterfront, waterfront. Waterfront is always hot for those that can afford it. But what's even hotter is the elusive level lot with a sandy beach and privacy. Got that and you're a winner.

12. Water access is the next best thing and is always in demand. If a dock or mooring comes with the access you are likely golden.

13. Views. Unless it is of a junk yard. You know, water or mountain views will always help sell a home. People like to stare.

Combine the first seven features with any of the last three and you'll be moving faster than the DeLorean in "Back to the Future." So that's it. Next week we'll do "What's not hot..."

Pl​ease feel free to visit to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. D ​Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012.

Roy Sanborn
Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty
3 Main Street, Meredith, NH 03253
Cell: 603-455-0335
Office: 603-677-7012

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Mike Persson - What do we want Laconia to become and how do we get there?

The 2016-2017 city budget process is in full swing and it is clear to most people that our city faces a budget crisis. The recently approved School District budget to be submitted to the City Council represents over $1.64 million in reductions from existing programs and no money to fund new programs aimed at implementing the district's strategic plan. The city side of the budget, including police, public works, fire, and other city departments, also face substantial budget pressures. Laconia faces difficult choices in the coming months and the decisions that are made are going to have long lasting impacts on the future of our city. As the City Council prepares to make these important decisions, it is my hope that the council members and the city at large ask two important questions. What is it that we want Laconia to become and how do we get there?

Over the past few weeks, I have noted that fingers have been pointed in many directions seeking to place blame for the budget situation that the city now faces. Some point to the increase in low-income housing that the city has been experiencing as the reason for our problems. Others point to government out-of-control and unfunded mandates from the federal and state governments that have resulted in excessive spending by both the city and the schools. Others, myself included, point the structure of the tax cap as an impediment to our investing in the city's future. Still others maintain that there is no crisis and point to the School Board for somehow manufacturing this situation. Ironically, none of the finger pointers is addressing the fundamental issue, which is how we deal with the situation that we now face.

I recently had a conversation with my best friend, who is an executive at a large local employer and a staunch conservative who favors limited government. I told him about the results of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey of Laconia students, which indicated that almost half of our students have lived with someone with alcohol or drug problem, nearly one in five had a family member in jail, and more than one in five were dealing with domestic violence at home. He was extremely surprised and concerned about these results and commented on the fact that the new executives that his company has hired have chosen to purchase homes in other towns rather than in Laconia due to their negative perceptions of Laconia as a place to raise their children. We then discussed the impacts of the budget crisis, the impact of an override of the current tax cap on future budgets, and my belief that the override provision needs to be amended in order to prevent this from being an annual occurrence. He commented that Laconia's issues will take 10 years to address and then said something that I never expected to hear. He said "I would be willing to spend more money in taxes to invest in the future of this city if I knew what the city wanted to become, I understood what obstacles were keeping us from getting there, I believed that the city had a workable plan for overcoming those obstacles, and I knew that the money would be spent towards implementing its plan."

My friend's statement had a profound impact on my thinking about this issue. After much thought, I developed the following vision of what I would like Laconia to be in 10 years:

Laconia is a vibrant, growing and economically diverse community with a strong middle class population. Laconia's citizens are invested in their community and are proud to tell others that they live in Laconia. Laconia is viewed by the business community as an attractive place to do business. Finally, Laconia is known as a community that thoughtfully plans for the future, has a growing tax base and shrinking tax rate, and consistently provides a superior level of city services to its residents.

Other people are sure to have other visions. Further, there is sure to be disagreement about how we would achieve any such a vision. However, if we do not open a dialogue over the direction of the city, work together to develop and prioritize goals, and agree on what actions need to be taken to ensure that the city gets to where we want it to go, we will be unconsciously deciding upon a course of action that may or may not obtain the results that most people want.

The City Council, School Board and so many of our citizens share at least one thing in common. We all love the city of Laconia. We may not always agree on what that city should look like in the future or how to we should get there, but we all can agree that we want what is best for our city. We will never get anywhere if people continue to sit in their camps and point fingers elsewhere. We will only get there by coming together to openly and honestly discuss what is important to the city's future, determine what we need to do to fix the issues that we face, and figure out how we invest in those actions in order to ensure that we are successful.

Our city is at a crossroads and we can choose to focus solely on this year's budget cycle or to think about our future and plan for it. The City Council has been forward thinking in the past and has demonstrated their willingness to invest in our future by supporting such things as the Laconia Police Department's PET Officer, needed improvements to city facilities, and the financing of the purchase and redevelopment of the Colonial Theater, to name just a few. I am hopeful that the council will continue this trend and look forward to working with them to plan for Laconia's future. I believe in the wisdom of the old saying that "those who fail to plan are planning to fail". In my opinion, our city's future is too important to be left to chance.

(Attorney Michael Persson is a member of the Laconia School Board.)

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Dubois — It's time for mountain biking!

Put those skis and snow shoes in the closet and start to think spring. Get your mountain bike out of storage – or buy one – tune it up and hit the trails. As the weather warms and the snow and mud disappear from the trails it's time to jump on your mountain bike and head out on a new adventure. Now is the time to think about a ride on the many mountain bike trails scattered throughout the Lakes Region. I'm fortunate in that I have abandoned logging and Class VI roads near my home, so I can take advantage of the opportunities these offer by just riding out of my driveway and down the road. However, there are many well marked and maintained mountain bike trails in the area such as the Northern Rail Trail that runs from Boscawen to Lebanon, Ahern State Park on the former State School property in Laconia, Ellacoya State Park in Gilford, Franklin Falls in Franklin, Highland Mountain Park in Tilton, and Page Pond Conservation Forest in Meredith. There are also many others located throughout the state. One of the most popular of these is Bear Brook State Park.

As I began to think about spring riding I recalled two rides I had this past December, before winter weather hit: Ramblin' Vewe Farm on Morrill Street in Gilford and the Meredith Community Forest on Jenness Hill Road in Meredith. Both areas provide moderate challenges, yet the terrain is negotiable with a little effort.

According to its website, "The Ramblin' Vewe Farm Trust is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to protect and preserve Ramblin' Vewe Farm, conserve the heritage of working farms and rural landscapes, foster educational and recreational activities and create trails to connect people, communities and the land." The farm has been in operation since 1987 and maintains a flock registered purebred sheep. 245 acres of the property have been set aside for forestry and recreation. This tract of woodlands has an extensive trail system that can be used for walking, skiing, snow shoeing and mountain biking. There is even a store on the property to purchase meat, eggs, vegetables and other locally raised products.

On a clear, crisp, late fall day Reuben and I drove to the trail head and met up with a couple of friends, Steve and Bob, for a morning ride. It was my first time biking at Ramblin' Vewe, so I was anxious to explore as many of the trails as possible. The trail system has both double track and single track trails that provide a variety of challenging terrain. We mostly followed the double track system, but did veer off occasionally onto the single track trails. The trail system winds its way over old stone walls, past ancient abandoned farm equipment, and even along the hillside that once was used for downhill skiing. The rope tow system made up of wheel hubs and an old car engine are still visible along the trail. There are also other old farm artifacts scattered along the trail that remind us that this land was once cleared and farmed as pasture. From a high point there is a scenic view that overlooks the farm and the hills beyond. It was a delightful day, riding with friends and acquainting myself with this wonderful recreational resource.

Since my appetite was whetted by the ride at Ramblin' Vewe Farm, I was anxious to get on my bike again, for another ride, sensing that snow would be on the ground very soon. A few days later, along with Steve, we headed off to another trail system closer to home, The Meredith Community Forest. This is one of four forested recreation areas in Meredith that are managed by the Meredith Conservation Commission. The day was mild, but wet, as a rain storm the day before had pelted the area. The trails were wet and muddy and layers of leaves covered the ground. The route we selected, blazed red, ran over varied terrain of hills and marshes and we were provided with a ride filled with thrills and spills. From the parking lot we followed an old tote road that plunged into the forest and through an area dominated by marsh and wet lands. Reuben, as always, found a beaver pond where he could swim and came out a changed color: going from yellow to a muddy black. We continued to follow the red trail, heading north to higher and dryer terrain. We gradually made our way onto a single track trail that had Steve and me huffing and puffing up a hill, sometimes having to walk our bikes. Reuben of course just pranced alongside, urging us ahead, and wondering why we were so slow. We made our way back to the parking lot along a series of trails that are also used by snow mobiles and cross country skiers in winter. The trail system is well marked and at the parking lot is a trail map located on the kiosk.

I look forward to pulling my bike out of storage this week and getting it tuned up for another round of rides over the next several months. As you begin to plan your first ride, remember to pull your helmet out of storage also. Never ride without head protection. Always be prepared for weather changes, carry extra clothing, water, insect repellent, and repair kit. Bike safely and enjoy the many trails in the Lakes Region that await you.



Gordon DuBois and Bob Manley at trail head of R.V. Farm

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Suissevale: A family-friendly community on Lake Winnipesaukee

By Frank Roche, President, Roche Realty Group, Inc.


When you navigate the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, there's 71 square miles of water and 274 islands to meander through, and on the northeastern shores of the lake there's an interesting four-season community that offers so many recreational opportunities for families to enjoy. Suissevale is one of the largest lakefront communities on the "Big Lake." This established year-round community includes over 600 acres of land located in Moultonborough. The developer of Gunstock Acres in Gilford, George Katter, was also instrumental in the development of Suissevale. Today, this active second-home community includes over 400 single-family homes and it's another example of so many fine communities and choices for prospective buyers which are located in New Hampshire's Lakes Region.
The majority of residents are vacation home owners; however, many couples who started with a vacation home have now made it their permanent semi-retirement home. There are approximately 72 full-time residents during the winter months at Suissevale. This sounds about right when you consider that Moultonborough leads the Lakes Region with 61 percent of its total residences being utilized as vacation homes. That's a pretty high percentage.

I know that Hebron on Newfound Lake comes in a close second at 58 percent. This is due to the fact that Moultonborough is blessed with approximately 66 miles of shorefront within the town – a pretty amazing fact when you compare it to New Hampshire's entire coastline, which includes only 18 miles. That's a lot of water, and it translates into a lot of second homes. So many families want to experience New Hampshire's largest lake, and Suissevale is a great choice for that endeavor.

The community enjoys 2,500 feet of shorefront and features enormous sandy beaches for all of its members to experience. The community also features a large marina with individual boat slips and a boat launch. The boat slips are not deeded and members register on a waiting list.

There are approximately six or seven slips that become available each year. A fee of approximately $1,000 each year is charged for a boat slip rental. Additionally, there are canoe and kayak racks, tennis courts, community clubhouse, barbecue areas, gazebo, children's playgrounds, and a snow-coasting hill for the children during the winter months. Suissevale is a very family-friendly community with a multitude of activities for everyone to enjoy.
The development features a community water system with individual septic systems. Throughout the 600+ acres of land there are over 26 miles of private roads contained within the community. This would be an amazing feat to complete at today's costs, and imagine trying to find today 2,500 feet of tranquil shorefront on Lake Winnipesaukee with a beautiful westerly facing shoreline. Another factor contributing to Moultonborough's desirability is its low tax rate, at $9.01 per $1,000. Additionally, the annual dues for a single-family home on its own lot is only $950 per year. This is bargain when you consider how many fine amenities you are getting in return on Lake Winnipesaukee.
I've pulled together an analysis of sales within Suissevale comparing 12 months ending 2015 versus 2014. Also included in this breakdown are the current active listings which are offered as of March 25, 2016. Over the years, we've seen a surge of sales activity in communities similar to Suissevale. It offers a wonderful alternative to owning a waterfront home because of the lower entry-level price points for a water access community with boat slips versus a single-family home on its own lot on the lake. Additionally, we find that many families with children enjoy the "community atmosphere" of a planned community because their children are able to meet and interact with other children and the adult members of the family are able to socialize with other members in the community. At Suissevale, all property owners can enjoy those lasting memories of great summers on the lake and an occasional drop down the sledding hill in the winter months, along with all the skiing and sports activities to enjoy each season.
So there you have it, a thumbnail sketch of Suissevale in Moultonborough. Take a look on and search "Purchase property at Suissevale on Lake Winnipesaukee" – will pop up on top and direct you to the Suissevale community page on our website showing all available properties for sale.
Please feel free to visit to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Frank Roche is president of Roche Realty Group in Meredith and Laconia, NH, and can be reached at (603) 279-7046. Data complied on 03/25/2016 and is subject to change. Google and the Google Logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc.

***Caption for the graph: Suissevale sales statistics and current inventory.

03-26 Suissevale beach
One of Suissevale's beaches. (Courtesy Photo)

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03-26 Suissevale marina
Suissevale's on-site marina. (Courtesy Photo)

03-25 Suissevale marina.jpg

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