Rental market inventory low, trend to continue

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/21/2021 9:31:40 AM

Those looking for an apartment or house to rent may encounter some challenges as 2021 begins because the inventory just isn’t there.

The discussion around available housing in the area has been ongoing for years, and the coronavirus pandemic has made things even more scarce in both the rental and buying market.

Colin Kipka’s company, Kipka Brothers of New Hampshire, has close to 140 rentals on the books in Peterborough, Jaffrey and Antrim, but as of last week Kipka said “as far as availability right now, we have nothing.”

Kipka said the turnover rate in his units is traditionally very low, with the average length of occupancy for tenants around three to four years.

“And when we do advertise, it’s almost immediately taken up,” he said.

He said COVID-19 also changed things.

“It’s sort of tightened up the whole rental market for the time being,” Kipka said. “It’s even gotten worse than it was before.”

Kipka added that government programs surrounding coronavirus relief have aided tenants who may have otherwise fallen behind on rent.

“There has been some good government support,” Kipka said. “And we can direct (tenants) to agencies that can help.”

Kipka said they haven’t been forced to evict anyone, and for a period of time they would have been unable to anyway because of the eviction moratorium.

Since there isn’t much out there in terms of rentals, Kipka offers advice to his tenants and others thinking about making a move.

“If you have an apartment now that you like, I tell people to hold on to it,” he said.

While there isn’t anything available now, Kipka said it’s always a good idea to keep checking. He said keeping a wait list is difficult because people who are seeking apartments usually have a specific time range they need to move within.

“Wait lists become outdated pretty quickly,” Kipka said.

Kevin Hampsey said his company Hampsey & Grenier Assoc. LLC in Jaffrey has less units then they used to, about 75 now, and there’s really not much available these days.

“Things are very fluid,” Hampsey said. “I’ve got some inventory coming, but there’s just not a lot. I think it’s going to be a tight market.”

Hampsey said this is nothing new as “there’s a shortage in New Hampshire anyway.” He said when rental properties do become available he’s never had a hard time filling them. And finding the right tenant can go a long way to ensuring that unit is rented for at least the length of the initial lease.

“Because ideally you want someone to be able to pay their rent,” Hampsey said.

Hampsey expects the low-inventory market to continue, which can have a trickle-down effect on local businesses looking to bring in new employees.

“There’s always been a shortfall for workforce housing,” he said. Hampsey, who has been a supporter of workforce housing in the area, said the key to more rental options is to look at properties like the W.W. Cross building and other rundown or abandoned properties.

“That would be a great place for workforce housing,” Hampsey said.

As of last Wednesday, Larry Alvarez, a realtor at Tieger Realty Co., Inc in Jaffrey, said he had just three rentals available, including one in Peterborough and another in Jaffrey. Within two days one was already rented. While that’s a low number, Alvarez said he’s actually shocked there were that many available.

“There is no inventory and forget about home rentals, home rentals are all but gone,” he said. Alvarez cited the increased values of homes in the purchasing market as a reason because people who would typically rent their properties are now opting to sell instead.

Alvarez said he gets lots of inquiries for rentals, but the selection and finding the right place to fill someone’s need has proven difficult.

“I got three calls today about rentals,” Alvarez said. “And I get anywhere from three to eight calls a day for rentals.” He said if something comes up within the month he’ll reach back out, but usually people have already figured something out when in need of a new place to live.

Alvarez said he will discuss the potential for buying instead of renting with interest rates so low, but can run into the same issues with inventory.

“In most cases, it’s just lack of housing,” he said. “I’ve never seen this in the 17 years I’ve been in real estate.”

And building new affordable properties to fill the need is not cost effective with building materials at an all-time high.

“It’s going to be very difficult for those to be built and be affordable,” Alvarez said.

Rental costs are also an issue, something Alvarez said he saw begin to rise two years ago.

Like Kipka, Alvarez also advises people to stay where they are unless there’s a reason to move or they happen to find something.

“That’s the most difficult thing, when they have to move, because there is nothing bigger,” he said.

For Marc Tieger, co-founder and president of Tieger Realty Co., Inc, the lack of inventory across the board is proving to be a difficult market to work through.

“There’s very little to rent and there’s a constant demand,” Tieger said. “It’s that way with sales too.”

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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