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June 25, 2014

Apartment prices are up, availability is down

It's a tough market in Rockingham County

Renters in New Hampshire are paying more for their apartments and there are fewer to go around.

The New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority recently published its annual report on residential rental costs, surveying more than 30,000 two-bedroom rental apartments rates.

Part of the study found how much each county’s apartment rates have gone up, and Rockingham County currently sits atop the median gross rental cost list at $1,229 per month, 3.5 percent higher than in 2009, the last time the authority did a survey.

This increase is due to the county’s location: close to Massachusetts for commuters and Interstate 93 according to Alex Hathaway, the incoming president of the Apartment Association of New Hampshire.

“Proximity to (Interstate) 93 is a big deal for that particular county because it’s like an artery going right through there,” he said.

Rising rental prices are following a Massachusetts trend. In 2009, Boston apartment prices rose “upward of 10 percent.”

“It’s like a sonic wave,” Hathaway said. “It starts in downtown Boston and people say, ‘I can’t afford to live in downtown Boston,’ so they move to Somerville. ... They’ll progressively go farther out and then the New Hampshire state line is there.”

William Ray of HFA said he has seen a trend of people moving farther from work in order to find more affordable housing.

“Where the growth in rental costs are is what we see as ‘drive until you can afford’ kinds of markets,” he said.

Low-income residents, however, may not be able to afford that option.

New Hampshire has the 11th-highest housing costs in the nation, according to Laurel Redden of Housing Action New Hampshire, which works to keep and make public policies to create affordable housing.

With increasing rental costs, low-income residents have less to spend on things like transportation.

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