NH housing affordability, availability under historic strain

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New Hampshire residential housing inventory dropped to its lowest number on record in 2021, pushing prices to historic highs and putting a strain on home buyers who are facing the lowest affordability conditions in at least 15 years, according to data released this week by the New Hampshire Association of Realtors.

“Affordability and availability, those are our watchwords,” said 2022 NHAR President Adam Gaudet. “This is a wonderful environment for those who want to sell their homes, until they have to buy something on the other end.”

At the end of December, 1,083 single-family residential homes were on the market in New Hampshire, 34 percent fewer than December of 2020 and a staggering 70 percent less than just two years prior. For further context, there were roughly five times as many homes on the market in New Hampshire in December 2017 – just four years ago.

The median price increase spurred by that inventory crunch has been substantial. Prior to May 2019, New Hampshire had never seen a median price for a single month over $300,000. In 2021, there were six months of $400,000 or above, and the year-end median price of $395,000 was 18 percent higher than that of 2020 and the highest ever seen in New Hampshire.

The result of those inventory and pricing conditions is affordability levels at the lowest in 14 years.

Based on an affordability index that measures median household income as compared to the median-priced home and prevailing interest rates, the end of the year saw the state 19 percent below where it had been in terms of affordability a year before, and the 12-month affordability average for 2021 was 21 percent below 2020.

“Nearly anyone who has tried to purchase a home in the past year or two is aware of the competition that has existed in the market,” Gaudet said. “More than ever, the winning deals have been cash, tens of thousands over asking price, often sight unseen. 

“When the workers that the state needs to fill jobs are being priced out of our communities, that’s a crisis and a real indication that something needs to be done to increase housing stock. Our economy depends on a healthy housing inventory.”



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