Rental market shows no signs of slowing down

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 10/18/2021 1:15:09 PM

It hasn’t been easy for renters recently and that isn’t bound to change anytime soon. Scot Kinney, licensed realtor and property manager for Homefront Realty LLC, a Bedford-based company with properties in the Monadnock region, said finding a place to rent is “almost like bidding on a house to purchase.” He explained that everything came to a stop with the start of the Covid pandemic. Ever since then? “It’s been absolutely bananas.”

There are a lot of factors contributing to the current rental market. Neither Kinney nor Mike Grenier, licensed realtor and broker with Hampsey and Grenier Associates, sees the situation improving in the near future. Partly because one of the biggest problems for renters is that there is just not enough housing. “No one is building anything,” Grenier said, adding that with vacancy rates around 1% statewide it’s leaving a lot of people with nowhere to go.

With high demand for apartments Kinney said he gets hundreds of prospective renters showing interest in each opening. This means people with bad credit, prior evictions, or people who won’t pass background checks can’t compete anymore.

“Even pets are a big liability,” Kinney said. And with so many applicants landlords can choose the renters they want.

The high prices houses are selling for is certainly not helping to lower competition in the rental market either. Some landlords are selling houses that they had been renting to take advantage of the seller’s market. Grenier said finding a single family home to rent is almost impossible right now, and the new houses that are being built aren’t going to renters.

Landlords are raising rents but people aren’t moving like they would have in the past. Some figure they will have to pay more to move to a new rental if they can even find one and “those people that would [move out of a rental and] buy a home decide not to because they can’t afford it,” Kinney said. So people are choosing to stay put.

“The housing market affects the economy,” Grenier emphasized, “If there’s no housing in the area, it’s difficult for businesses to bring in new people.”

But people are moving to this area from other parts of the country. Kinney maintained, “They don’t want to be out west with the fires, don’t want to be in the south with the hurricanes, or Midwest with tornadoes. And more people are working remotely now.” However, most of these out-of-staters are buying houses and they aren’t working in the restaurants and businesses that desperately need staff right now.

Grenier believes this situation will only improve if local communities and state government create incentives to build multi-family housing. He explained that construction and regulation costs often make building apartments unprofitable. And affordable housing is essential for our community. “I get calls from people in desperate situations, spousal abuse, evictions,” Grenier said. But with competition so high and vacancy rates so low they aren’t left with many options. Without much hope for a drastic shift in the rental market, Grenier admitted, “This is the new reality we’re in now.”

Kinney also doesn’t think we can expect a big change. “The cost of the dollar is going down,” he said, and “without ample housing I don’t see the bubble bursting anytime soon.”

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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