WOLFEBORO — Lakes Region Community Developers planned to build 20 new affordable single-family homes here this past summer. But those plans, like many others in the time of COVID-19, had to be postponed.
When it is built, the Wolfeboro project will offer qualified buyers a rarity — the chance to get into a new home for a price of about $200,000, LRCD Executive Director Carmen Lorentz said.
High demand and low supply have driven the median price of a home in New Hampshire to a record high $335,000, up 14 percent from last year, according to the state Housing Finance Authority’s yearly market report, released last month.
“When Covid hit, we didn’t know what was going to happen,” Lorentz said. “The homes will be pre-engineered construction (modular) so we had to decide by April 1 to place an order and there was just too much uncertainty at that time, so we decided to wait. We now plan to break ground in spring 2021.”
To qualify for a home in the project on Beck Drive, off Route 109A, buyers will be required to have family income of 75 percent to 120 percent of the area median, or about $60,000 to $85,000.
The site for the housing development is about a mile from Wolfeboro Main Street. The homes will likely be three bedrooms, two bathrooms and about 1,500 square feet.
Tax credits from the Finance Authority will be used to help pay for the project.
“Really the only thing that’s changed is it’s gotten even harder for first-time buyers to find something they can afford,” Lorentz said.
The median home sales price has increased by $85,000 since 2018. Low interest rates makes it easier to buy a home, if one can be found.
“September 2020 listings in total have dropped 27% when compared to September 2019,” the market report said. “As prices continue to rise, listings under $300,000 become scarcer; the number of homes below this price have decreased 37% from last year. Interest rates remain historically low, leading to very favorable financing for those who already own a home and wish to refinance, or those who are purchasing a home. Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows an average commitment rate of 2.89% for the month of September with 0.8 points.”
Most homebuyers are moving within the state, but about a third come from other states, primarily Massachusetts, according to the report.
Research by the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire indicates that about 60 percent of recent migrants to the state are under age 49. They tend to be better educated and have higher incomes than current residents.
The research also indicated that family was the top reason for people to stay in or move to New Hampshire. Followed by other reasons like natural environment, quality of life, culture and lifestyle, employment, low taxes and economy.
Russ Thibeault, Founder of Applied Economic Research in Laconia, said the pandemic is driving people to the state. “With COVID-19’s work-from-home policies cutting the umbilical cord to expensive housing and work space in and near Boston, it’s likely we will see yet more migration into the state,” he said. “If the profile of recent migrants holds, that will be a good thing for New Hampshire. But we need to create additional affordable housing if we want to attract and accommodate migration.”
On the Web:
Housing Finance Authority’s yearly market report: https://tinyurl.com/y3b37ce6