By Ryan Hvizda, Co-Founder and Owner of The Hvizda Team at Keller Williams Metro
In the past decade, New Hampshire’s population growth has outpaced our housing growth and the effects are being felt across all sectors of the economy and our communities. Almost daily in my work as a real estate professional, I connect with people that are in the process of transitioning between housing and I experience the same conversation over and over. The lack of housing causes home prices to soar and puts more pressure on an already competitive rental market. Our statewide vacancy rate is 2% and even lower in the metro areas in southern NH. This is one of the major issues for young people looking to settle down in the Granite State. They simply can’t afford to!
The competition for more reasonably-priced housing crosses all age groups - recent college grads, young families and retirees. The story is the same, there is a lack of housing that meets their needs and budget. These are people seeking “affordable housing” and most are part of the “workforce.” But in many cities and towns, these hot topic words that cause an instant case of NIMBY (“Not in my back yard”, a.k.a. I don’t want that type of housing in my neighborhood).
The thing is, the majority of people in New Hampshire that own a home technically own an affordable home! In 2018 the median sales price for a home in NH was $282,500, skyrocketing from two years ago when the median sales price was $249,800. That 13.1% change is just two years is directly related to the inventory issue. For those that rent, the median rent in 2018 for a two bedroom in southern NH was $1,396.
The rental market pressure is not limited to quantity, but also a lack of quality apartments. The low vacancy rate means that landlords are not pressured to improve their buildings. You would be horrified to see what I have seen in the multi-family market - deplorable living conditions that still yield high rental rates because there are no other options. As soon as one tenant moves out, there are 15 more banging on the door because there simply are not enough places for people to live.
We need “affordable” housing because we need a place for people of all ages to live, affordably, in order to call NH home. The business community is an echo chamber when it comes to the challenge of finding and retaining talent. So how can we bridge this gap?
We need to support developers that are willing to build housing that is affordable. When they enter our communities with plans, instead of denying them access, cities and towns should engage with them in a thoughtful dialogue about how they can bring their vision to your community while also meeting the housing need and maintaining the integrity of the community. This can be done in a plethora of ways from thoughtful cluster development, to integrating sustainability measures into all aspects of the design process.
Let’s create projects and housing solutions that present young people with housing options that realistically match their budgets and allow them to plant roots in our great state.