By CHUCK GREEN
Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Is it the place to be?
Why not? Portsmouth’s a medium size coastal city with 22,277 residents as of July 1, 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Here’s the scene from Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues Club on New Year’s Eve:
The Seacoast region has and will continue to benefit from market demand that is generated by people looking for a higher quality of life within an urban setting, Jim Goldenberg, principal of Cathartes, told The Mortgage Note.
Cathartes is a Boston-based real estate company that has a progressive focus on smart living. They are celebrating 30 years in business at a time when the real estate industry is undergoing immense change due much in part to the long-term effects of the global pandemic.
Cathartes has been at the forefront of multi-family development trends with a company vision that incorporates the creation of a healthy balance between life and work, as well as proactively anticipating the needs of modern, mobile and connected communities.
“These people no longer have the requirement to commute into Boston or New York five days a week and are able to work in whole or in part remotely giving them more flexibility in where they live. The Seacoast region has the restaurant, cultural and lifestyle offerings that people are looking for,” Goldenberg said.
Goldenberg added that the demand for cultural and social amenities comes from young people and empty nesters, who are attracted to Portsmouth because they can live within walking distance to these things.
Jeff Johnston, Principal of Cathartes, said in a statement that as the industry continues to try to keep up with the pivots of real estate needs, they have tried to stay in front of those evolving trends and are positioned well for the next 30 years of business. The company is known for its work on Portwalk Place in Portsmouth.
Assistant City Manager for Economic Development Sean Clancy said the city has grown during the pandemic.
“Portsmouth’s a desirable location for many reasons including its proximity to Boston and the high quality of places that our residents enjoy. Throughout the pandemic, many regions in New Hampshire, including the Seacoast, experienced an influx of part-time and full-time residents from other metropolitan areas seeking more space,” Clancy told The Mortgage Note.
Ah, yes, but home prices and the cost of rent can make laying down roots there, especially among average working families, a tricky proposition.
Not only are home prices in Portsmouth among the highest in the state of New Hampshire, the city’s real estate consistently ranks among the most costly in the country, according to neighborhodscout.com.
Rentcafe.com reports that the average one-bedroom apartment in Portsmouth is 923 square feet and costs $1,958 a month.
The cost of living there isn’t exactly a financial drop in the bucket, topping the country. So the people who live there have to make good salaries.
The average salary from 2016 to 2020 in Portsmouth was $78,712. The percentage of people in poverty is 6.6, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Goldenberg recognizes there are challenges for the average person who would like to make Portsmouth their home city. He blames a supply and demand imbalance.
“Housing affordability’s one of the greatest challenges we face, not just in this region but as a country. The root of our affordability crisis stems from the imbalance of supply and demand. We simply don’t have enough housing,” Goldenberg said.
New Hampshire is down around 30,000 units of what it would require to attract and retain workers.
“It’s well documented that New Hampshire — like many states — struggles with having enough housing units to support all segments of the market: low, middle, and high,” noted Clancy.
One thing working in Portmouth’s favor is the growth of what’s known as “adjacent cities.”
Goldenberg explained cities within a one or two-hour commute to a major metropolitan area, such as New York or Boston, stand to benefit from people taking advantage of remote and hybrid work and looking to improve their quality of life.
Two prominent drivers of this trend, he explained, are the desire for less time spent commuting as well as affordability and more “bang for the buck.”
“Adjacent cities are particularly well positioned to benefit from this trend because they allow people to still have reasonable access to the major metro – although not necessarily five days a week – to access the amenities that large cities have to offer, while also improving their quality of life with more affordability and less time spent commuting.”
Typically, those workers earn higher incomes so Portsmouth is affordable in comparison to Boston and New York.
If you can afford Portsmouth, you will be rubbing elbows with some wealthy people and sharing a lively and vibrant city with tourists from throughout the country and world.
You will also have a chance to see all of the Presidential primary candidates, as New Hampshire has the first primary in the nation. Politicians flock to the state for endorsements and funding.
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