New Hampshire Housing Rental Survey Shows Market Still Tight

Renters continue to face low vacancy rates, higher rents

Renters are still navigating a tight rental market, despite the addition of some new rental housing in the southern portion of the state, shows New Hampshire Housing’s annual “Residential Rental Cost Survey.” The survey, which gauges rental costs across the state and is used to determine the state of the rental market, was released today.

Rents for two-bedroom apartments—the majority of apartments in the state—have remained relatively steady from last year, but when looking at median gross rents for all types of units, rents have still increased over the last several years. Since 2006, rents for all types of units have increased by 9.7%, and rents for two-bedroom apartments have increased by 7.3%. Currently, the gross median rent for the state is $1,018 per month, including utilities; however, this amount can vary by location. Coos county has the lowest gross median rent at $652 per month, and Rockingham county has the highest at $1,099.

In addition to these elevated costs, overall vacancy rates remain below 4%. While a balanced rental market has vacancy rates of around 5%, a lower rate indicates a “property owner’s market” and fewer options for renters.

This trend of low vacancy rates and higher rents has continued from last year despite an increase in rental housing construction in the southern portion of the state. To support the construction of new rental housing, new apartments tend to be offered at higher rents, explaining why more apartments don’t immediately translate to more affordable prices.

“While it’s good to see signs of construction activity, demand for affordable rental units remains high,” said Dean Christon, Executive Director of New Hampshire Housing. “In addition, relatively high foreclosure rates and low sales activity over the past several years have created increased pressure on the rental market.”

The survey is conducted each April by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center and New Hampshire Housing. The 2013 survey compares information on 33,367 market rate rental units across the state. Gross rents, which are used in order to standardize rental costs, are calculated by adding the dollar amount of utilities that tenants are expected to pay to the contract rent amount.

The “Residential Rental Cost Survey” provides a comprehensive picture of the status of rental housing in the State of New Hampshire. New Hampshire Housing and other public and private organizations use the data collected through the survey to help identify needs and establish priorities for housing programs.

The report is available online in printable format as well as part of New Hampshire Housing’s online interactive housing and demographic data, which allows users to obtain this rental cost information plus purchase price and U.S. Census data at the state, county and town levels.

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