Workforce housing in Londonderry

Roofing trusses are ready for two new buildings at The Residences at MacGregor Cut in Londonderry, where about a third of the completed apartments are designated as workforce housing.

BEDFORD — Housing experts say home buyers are still facing an extremely competitive market as low inventory plagues much of the state.

While new home sales prices have increased almost 19 percent since 2014, the number of listings for affordable houses under $300,000 has dropped more than 61 percent since 2010, according to Realtors.

“There is such limited production,” said Dean Christon, executive director of the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority.

About 180 people participated in the 2019 Homeownership Conference on Tuesday at the Manchester Country Club. Hosted by the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, the event comes on the heels of the organization’s release of its Housing Market Report for March 2019.

“New Hampshire home prices continue to rise, making home ownership more challenging, especially for first-time buyers,” states the report. “The increase in prices reflects the lack of supply, as well as the strength of the economy.”

“The real issue is creating inventory,” said Kevin Lacasse of New England Family Housing.

He acknowledged that the process for developers to receive approval for new homes, subdivisions or larger developments is extensive. Sitting down with planning directors and fire and police officials at the very onset of a project can help streamline the process, panelists agreed.

“That has a huge impact,” Steve Buckley of the New Hampshire Municipal Association said of the preliminary review phase.

Samir Khanna, one of the developers for The Residences at MacGregor Cut in Londonderry, said it took him and his brother about four years to receive all of the permits necessary to move forward with the first phase of their three-phase project.

“The demand for the workforce housing component is very high. We are at capacity right now for all of the workforce housing units,” said Khanna.

Workforce housing in Londonderry

Raechel Bryson, property manager at The Residences at MacGregor Cut in Londonderry, shows a visitor around the model apartment in the new complex.

Once complete, the housing project will consist of 288 apartments, or 96 units per phase. So far, occupancy permits have been approved for three of the existing four buildings. He said 36 of those units are workforce housing units and are already occupied, while the remaining 72 units are market rate.

The market rate units are about $1,750 per month to rent, and the workforce housing units are currently $1,246 a month. He said occupants must meet income qualifications.

The experts agreed that modular construction is one way to potentially increase the stock of moderately priced homes, acknowledging that there is still a stigma surrounding pre-engineered houses.

The most effective ways to address the redevelopment financing gap are local and state tax incentives, as well as loan guarantees, they said. The challenge, agreed the panelists, is keeping the homes affordable years after they are constructed.