Rents in N.H., Concord keep going up as apartments get harder to find

  • NH Houseinf Finance Authority—Courtesy

  • NH Houseinf Finance Authority—Courtesy

  • A "for rent" sign is seen outside a home on Washington Street in Concord on Wednesday, July 12, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) ELIZABETH FRANTZ

Monitor staff
Published: 7/18/2019 3:44:37 PM

A new analysis of rental housing in New Hampshire has found that the tight, expensive market continues to get tighter and more expensive.

“Our 2019 survey ... found that for the sixth year in a row, rents have increased,” says the report from the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority. The statewide median gross rent for two-bedroom units was $1,347 including utilities, an increase of more than 20% in the past five years.

Rents are most expensive in the southern parts of the state and the Seacoast, but they’re rising just as fast in central New Hampshire.

In Concord, the median gross rent – meaning that half of the surveyed two-bedroom apartments were cheaper and half were more expensive – was $1,262, while in Merrimack County as a whole it was $1,206. Both of those figures are about 20% higher than they were five years ago.

The report is based on UNH Survey Center data of “more than 23,000” unsubsidized (market rate) rental housing units around the state, which is roughly 15% of the total number of units in New Hampshire.

It found that the vacancy rate for two-bedroom units, by far the most common size, is incredibly low – less than 1%. The national vacancy rate is 7% and the rate throughout the whole Northeast is 5%, which is generally considered a sign that supply and demand are balanced, the report said.

Concord had a vacancy rate of 1.4% for two-bedroom apartments.

None of this is news to officials, either local or statewide. Laws encouraging so-called in-law apartments have been passed in hopes of creating more units in existing buildings, and the state is looking into whether to allow “tiny homes” to be built as another alternative.

The 2018 report to the Concord City Council from Deputy City Manager Carlos Baia and Economic Development Director Suzi Pegg, noted that only 12 market-rate studio apartments opened in the city last year, plus 18 assisted-living units.

“This pace demonstrated a slight increase over 2017 yet the level of new construction has not appeared to keep pace with demand,” it noted.

The report to the City Council does end on an optimistic note: “Over the last year, an increasing number of developers (both local and from out of state) have expressed interest in Concord to either renovate existing multifamily dwellings or construct new facilities. ... If all the projects that are currently in the due diligence or conceptual phase for housing are developed, Concord could see significant growth in its housing inventory over the next 24 months.”

These plans include 125 apartments aimed for the former Employment Security building on South Main Street and 54 units in a former Penacook tannery, although both of those still face financing issues.

The statewide report from the Housing Financing Authority is less sanguine that future growth will solve the problem.

“Households continue to rent because there’s a scarcity of affordable homes to buy (those priced at $300,000 or below). There is recognition within both the public and private sectors of the state that to sustain New Hampshire’s healthy economy, additional housing is needed to support our housing needs ... While there has been some increase in the construction of new rental housing in the past few years, many of these units tend be on the higher end of the market,” it said.

By one estimate, New Hampshire needs 26,000 more affordable housing units to meet current demand.

Construction of new housing all kinds is facing obstacles including zoning restrictions imposed when concern about over-construction was rampant as well as a shortage of workers in the construction industry. Another issue is demographic change: Because families are much smaller than they were in past decades, the same number of people need more housing units than they once did.

The NHHFA report can be read online at nhhfa.org/assets/pdf/2019_Rental_Survey_Rpt.pdf.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)



Concord Monitor Office

1 Monitor Drive
Concord,NH 03301
603-224-5301

 

© 2019 Concord Monitor
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy