BEDFORD — A tight rental market and a strong, growing economy continues in the state, according to the latest data collected by New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority for its 2019 Residential Rental Cost Survey. It reflects a high demand for apartments and low vacancy rates.

The 2019 survey, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, polled the owners and managers of more than 23,000 unsubsidized (market rate) rental housing units around the state (15 percent of the total number of units). It found that, for the sixth year in a row, rents have increased. The survey also found that the statewide median gross rent of $1,347 (including utilities) for two-bedroom units has increased more than 20 percent in the past five years.

New Hampshire’s vacancy rate stands at less than 1 percent for two-bedroom units. In comparison, the U.S. vacancy rate is 7 percent and, in the Northeast, it is 5 percent. (A vacancy rate of 4 to 5 percent is considered a balanced market for supply and demand.) The overall availability of units statewide is extremely low.

In order to afford the statewide median cost of a typical two-bedroom apartment with utilities, a renter would have to earn 129 percent of the statewide median renter income, or more than $53,900 a year.

The highest rents are located in the southern counties near the state’s largest cities and close to employers as well as the Boston job market. That is also where most of the state’s rental housing properties are located.

This status reflects another aspect of New Hampshire’s housing market: households that 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 — about 20,000 more units, according to a recent study. While there has been some increase in the construction of new rental housing in the past few years, many of those units tend be on the higher end of the market.

Dean Christon, executive director of New Hampshire Housing, said, “New Hampshire Housing provided financing for over 700 rental units in the state last fiscal year. Even with those units, it is clear that we need to encourage and support the development of more housing opportunities throughout the state to meet the needs of our state’s residents and businesses, and its economic well-being.”

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