A cool million (or so) can get you the home of your dreams

In Southern California, you could spend $2 million on a three-bedroom ranch.

In southern New Hampshire, that kind of money will score you one of the most exclusive homes on the market. Think tennis courts, marble floors and an indoor pool in the most elite of neighborhoods.

Just such a house sits for sale at 63 Powers Road in Hollis. The 10,000-square-foot estate has two libraries, five fireplaces, a children’s wing and more than 20 security cameras. When a car gets halfway up the winding driveway, a soft “ping” sounds throughout the house as an alert.

At a listing price of $2.2 million, it’s in a class of very few ultra-luxury homes in Greater Nashua. In fact, it’s one of only about 10 local properties on the market right now with an asking price of more than $1 million.

Homes in this small segment of the market are still selling, despite the depressed state of the broader real estate market. Their values have dipped, but the high-end real estate market as a whole is still performing well.

“I’ve been selling more million dollar homes than ever,” said Frank Destito, the real estate agent for the Powers Road home. “In the last year, I’ve sold five over $1 million. . . . It’s been a very lucrative year.”

In the Nashua-Manchester portion of southern New Hampshire, 12 homes sold for more than $1 million last year – mostly in bedroom communities such as Hollis, Amherst and Bedford, according to data from the New Hampshire Association of Realtors.

That’s down slightly from the 14 that sold in 2007. But 2008 was still the third-best year in the last decade for high-end home sales. In 2004, near the height of the real estate market boom, only eight sold. In 2005, 13 sold.

The NHAR data include sales in Amherst, Bedford, Brookline, Hollis, Hudson, Litchfield, Manchester, Merrimack, Milford, Nashua and Pelham.

However, $1 million is a deceiving benchmark for “high-end” homes in New Hampshire. Because homes that expensive are rare, real estate experts tend to consider homes priced at $750,000 and above part of the high-end market.

Forty of those homes sold in 2008 in the Nashua-Manchester belt. That compares to 39 in 2007, a peak of 56 in 2005 and 30 or fewer each year from 1998-2004, NHAR data show.

Why are they selling?

The high-end real estate market tends to perform better than the rest of the market in times of economic turmoil, real estate experts say.

The type of buyer who would be interested in the most elite properties here – an executive of a big company or perhaps a Boston sports professional – is less likely to be affected by a downturn in the economy.

“Look at the profile of the owner,” said Fred Doleac, broker/owner of Re/Max Country Properties in Amherst. “How many CEO’s lose their jobs?”

High-end buyers also tend to be savvy about the real estate market, according to Destito, a real estate agent with Better Homes & Gardens The Masiello Group in Hollis. They wait until housing values drop to buy a luxury home at the best possible price.

Many of them pay in cash.

And in New Hampshire, there are simply fewer $1 million-plus homes from which to choose than in states such as California or Florida. A smaller inventory translates to less time in the market.

Diane Finkle, an associate broker with the Michael Bean Group in Bedford, has several homes available right now for $1 million or more, including a $1.39 million property on a secluded peninsula on Baboosic Lake in Amherst.

The waterfront property has two homes: a main house and a guesthouse. It has two boat hoists, tiered decking, rock waterfalls, a hot tub and sculptures throughout the grounds. The buildings are fairly modest in size and decor, but Finkle said the price of the property has more to do with the location.

“This location is irreplaceable,” she said. “You’re purchasing the property.”

Finkle is another agent who has no complaints about the performance of the high-end real estate market of late.

“The high-end market was great last year,” she said. “Bedford, Amherst and Hollis – they don’t suffer.”

What you get for the money

Right now, there are at least 10 homes on the market in Greater Nashua and Bedford that have a listing price of more than $1 million.

>>HIGH-END HOME SALES, 1998-PRESENT<< The most expensive, at $2.5 million, is advertised as a "one-of-a-kind private compound" on nearly 12 acres at 22 Steeple View Lane in Bedford. It has a pool house, a fish pond with a waterfall, five bedrooms, six bathrooms and nearly 11,000 square feet. The only other listing that tops $2 million is the home on Powers Road in Hollis. There are no homes in Nashua that make the list. The most expensive listing in the city falls just short at a price of about $999,000. Most of the homes are sprawling estates on several acres. They tend to have all the upgrades that million-dollar homebuyers expect: gourmet kitchens with granite counters and stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors and manicured lawns. But there are exceptions. At $1.1 million, a 100-year-old farmhouse at 12 Charles Place in Bedford could seem overpriced at first glance. The home has 2,175 square feet - small by comparison with all the other listings of $1 million and above. But the home is situated on 34 acres of prime land close to Route 101, and the real estate agent's description online emphasizes that. The land could be subdivided into multiple lots or used to build a sprawling home similar to the other luxury listings. In fact, the pictures online only show the land, not the home. Buyers willing to spend more than $1 million have their pick of some unique features you don't find in just any home. Two are waterfront properties with boat docks. A $1.3 million home at 12 Chardonnay Terrace has a security system that allows the homeowner to view the property, turn lights off and on, and change the temperature while on vacation by clicking a button. The home next door at 11 Chardonnay Terrace has not one, but two, master bedrooms. A $1.9 million home at 109 Mack Hill Road in Amherst has a geothermal heating system. And there's an indoor basketball court at 9 Steeple View Lane in Bedford. But if you're in the market for one of these luxury homes, be prepared to dish out some cash far beyond just the asking price. Some of the homes come with annual property tax bills topping $20,000. HIGH-END HOMES Here is a sampling of high-end homes that are available: 12 Charles Place, Bedford.
Sale price: $1,100,000.
Acres: 34.4.
Number of bedrooms: 4.
Number of baths: 1 full, 1 partial.
Square footage: 2,175.
Taxes: $7,500.
Unique features: 34-acre lot.

605 Isaac Frye Highway, Wilton.
Sale price: $1,191,000.
Acres: 12.3.
Number of bedrooms: 5.
Number of baths: 4 full, 2 partial.
Square footage: 5,501.
Taxes: $15,663.
Unique features: Known as the “yellow house at Wilton Center”; antique colonial style with modern updates; in-law suite.

11 Chardonnay Terrace,
Sale price: $1,248,000.
Acres: 1.93.
Number of bedrooms: 4.
Number of baths: 2 full, 2 partial.
Square footage: 4,000.
Taxes: $15,243.
Unique features: Two master bedrooms; European design.

7 Dorothy’s Way, Bedford.
Sale price: $1,249,000.
Acres: 1.62.
Number of bedrooms: 5.
Number of baths: 5 full, 2 partial.
Square footage: 7,291.
Taxes: $19,206.
Unique features: Media room; grand entry with winding staircase.

12 Chardonnay Terrace, Bedford.
Sale price: $1,320,000.
Acres: 2.46.
Number of bedrooms: 4.
Number of baths: 3 full, 3 partial.
Square footage: 4,605.
Taxes: $17,106.
Unique features: Computer-controlled system that allows owner to view the home, turn lights off or on, and adjust the heat while on vacation; three bedroom suites; recreation room.

21 Clark Island Road, Amherst.
Sale price: $1,399,000.
Acres: 1.4.
Number of bedrooms: 4.
Number of baths: 2 full, 3 partial.
Square footage: 3,000.
Taxes: $13,129.
Unique features: Private peninsula on Baboosic Lake; tiered lakefront gardens; guesthouse.

4 Granite Hill Road, Windham.
Sale price: $1,450,000.
Acres: 0.42.
Number of bedrooms: 4.
Number of baths: 3 full, 2 partial.
Square footage: 6,210.
Taxes: $18,411.
Unique features: Waterfront; boat dock; gated community.

9 Steeple View Lane, Bedford.
Sale price: $1,500,000.
Acres: 6.63.
Number of bedrooms: 6.
Number of baths: 4 full, 2 partial.
Square footage: 11,459.
Taxes: $25,103.
Unique features: Indoor
basketball court and skate park; advertised as the biggest home in Bedford.
109 Mack Hill Road, Amherst.
Sale price: $1,900,000.
Acres: 6.5.
Number of bedrooms: 3.
Number of baths: 2 full, 2 partial.
Square footage: 5,100.
Taxes: $15,777.
Unique features: Geothermal heating system; six-car garage; concrete counters with recycled glass inlay.

63 Powers Road, Hollis.
Sale price: $2,195,000.
Acres: 6.2.
Number of bedrooms: 6.
Number of baths: 2 full, 5 partial.
Square footage: 10,798.
Taxes: $41,784.
Unique features: Indoor swimming pool; tennis courts; two libraries; separate children’s wing.

22 Steeple View Lane, Bedford.
Sale price: $2,500,000.
Acres: 11.86.
Number of bedrooms: 5.
Number of baths: 2 full, 4 partial.
Square footage: 10,874.
Taxes: $28,795.
Unique features: Gated estate; hot tub room; five fireplaces; fish pond with waterfall.