NH home values up 10.7% in last year, average nearly $300K nowBy MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader
August 15. 2018 1:03PM
The median home price in the past two years has soared by more than $42,000 statewide — and nearly $55,000 in Rockingham County.
July set another monthly record, at $298,850 statewide, up 10.7 percent in a year’s time. Half of Rockingham County’s homes sold for more than $389,950 last month, up 10.5 percent from a year earlier, according to the New Hampshire Realtors.
“It is the number-one contributing factor to the number-one issue, which is a lack of a workforce,” said Valerie Rochon, president and chief collaborator of the Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth, which has nearly 800 members.
For many Portsmouth workers, “they can’t rent here; they can’t buy here,” Rochon said Tuesday.
Workforce housing ranked as the third most important issue to employers surveyed this year by the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire. Rating higher were the cost of electricity and the lack of an available workforce.
The BIA held eight roundtable discussions around the state this summer and housing costs came up at “nearly every roundtable,” said David Juvet, BIA’s senior vice president for public policy.
“The lack of affordable housing is one of the big reasons young people are considering moving out of the state,” said Will Stewart, executive director of Stay Work Play New Hampshire, a nonprofit that promotes the state as a place for young people and recent college graduate
“Basically a third of all young people would definitely or probably consider moving out of New Hampshire within the next two years,” said Stewart, basing that on a survey the group conducted with people 20 to 40.
Student loan “payments can approach monthly rent levels,” Stewart said. “That further impacts their ability to pay the rent, let alone to save up enough to buy a house. It really is a whammy here.”
“Right now, the market is tight and that can pose a challenge,” said Matt Cookson, executive director of the New Hampshire High-Tech Council. “While some individuals are relocating here from higher cost areas, there are some efforts under way to build more affordable housing, and that is a good sign.”
The statewide median gross rent of $1,296, including utilities, for two-bedroom units has risen nearly 19 percent in the past five years, the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority reported in June. And the vacancy rate for a two-bedroom apartment statewide stood at 1.96 percent.
New Hampshire homes still cost less than in Massachusetts.
“If you look at the broad market numbers, we’re more affordable and arguably we have more positives that would attract someone here relative to Massachusetts,” said Dean Christon, executive director of the housing finance authority.
According to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, the median price for a single-family home stood at $423,250 in July, or 7.2 percent higher than a year ago.
Interest rates also are pushing up payments.
Rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit a U.S. weekly average of 4.59 percent as of last Thursday. That compares to 3.90 percent a year ago, according to Freddie Mac, a company that guarantees mortgages by buying and repackaging them to investors.
Rachel Eames, immediate past president of NH Realtors, said she thinks the price hikes will slow.
“I do think we’re plateauing,” said Eames.