New Hampshire Cities in Top Hottest Housing Markets

Manchester, New Hampshire, USA Skyline on the Merrimack River at dusk.

New Hampshire keeps showing up on the radar as one of the hottest housing markets in the country. According to Realtor.com’s May report, three New Hampshire cities were named at the top of their list for the 20 hottest markets in the USA.

The Manchester—Nashua metro area just received the #1 ranking in the USA out of 300 metros for the hottest housing market.

Also in the top 20 was Concord, New Hampshire, which was ranked as the #5 hottest housing market in the USA.

The Manchester area is no stranger to this list, as the city has ranked at the top of the list eight times in the past. The first time was in March 2021. Having grown up in Manchester it’s hard for me to believe the city would attract so much attention. During May, the median days on the market for a residential listing was only 14 days, and the median list price effective within the period was $630,000, a huge increase compared to the days when I grew up there. Even with its high median list price, The Manchester—Nashua region has continued to surge in popularity. Due to its proximity to Boston, which is less than an hour away. Also, when you look at the price differential with Manchester at $630,000 and Boston at $967,000 – $1,000,000. The affordability factor becomes significant. The other plus factors are no state income tax, sales tax, and a more relaxed quality of life.

Just 18 miles or 20 minutes up the road is Concord, with its beautiful downtown and the state capitol, great school system, shopping, and surrounding quaint rural towns. New residents can escape the sprawl of Massachusetts and be closer to New Hampshire’s lakes, mountains, and coastline.

Growing up in Manchester, the city was known for its huge former textile mills along the Merrimack River just below downtown. My mother, when she was young, worked at the Amoskeag Millyard, which later grew throughout the 19th century into the largest cotton textile plant in the world with 17,000 employees and close to 30 huge brick buildings with solid beam construction. I can remember in the 1960s, Arthur D Little Company from Cambridge, Massachusetts, performed an extensive study for the Manchester housing authority regarding the future use of the entire mill yard. At the time, my father, Atty. J. Francis Roche, was the city solicitor for Manchester, and I remember his extensive involvement with the Housing Authority, the Aldermen, and the Planning Board.

During the summer months, I worked at the City Engineering Department on the survey crew, and at one time, we did some work at the millyards. This was during the time urban renewal plans were underway in most cities. Some cities made some blatant mistakes in those years; however, Manchester’s millyards became a glowing testament to the vision of the planners to produce a wholly original work of art to repurpose those buildings.

One individual who was instrumental in the future planning of the millyards was John Grogan, who was the City of Manchester’s City Director of Planning for 23 years. I knew him well. He would many times be at my father’s law office on Hanover and Elm Street, next to City Hall. I also worked with John through the City’s Engineering Department, and he was a very smart planner who graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Design with a master’s degree in Urban Planning. Grogan sent Manchester in the right planning direction.

If you look at the millyard and surrounding properties today, you can see how the planning vision paid off.

The largest textile mill in the world which saw its decline, is now an incubator and economic engine for so many businesses, high-tech companies, colleges, restaurants, and professional offices that serve the region.

It’s amazing to see how a struggling former textile city in New Hampshire has become one of the hottest markets in the country. A lot of the homes for sale in the area are still going into bidding wars, although not as prevalent compared to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the bottom line is that the region has a very low housing inventory, with a lot of buyers looking for available properties.

The Realtor.com data suggests about 34% of potential buyers are coming from the Greater Boston Market, and about 21% came from the New York Metro Area, with 3% from nearby Concord. Most of the activity is from Massachusetts residents looking for more affordable homes on larger lots. Even in the Manchester millyards, some of the old buildings along the river have been turned into luxury lofts. On Elm Street downtown, there are a lot of restaurants, bars, and new shops.

The University of New Hampshire at Manchester, Southern New Hampshire University, and St. Anselm’s College are also big draws. The unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the country at 2.7%, and the median household income is much higher than the national average.

So, when you look at the above 3 cities in New Hampshire as the hottest housing markets in the country, you can see the spillover into our beautiful Lake’s Region.

As homeowners move into this state and discover the natural resources of our Lakes Region, the steady stream of cars up I-93 North continues. I just looked at the Kiplinger letter published May 30th ranking the best places to retire in New England based on the quality of life and other criteria, and guess what? Laconia, New Hampshire, was ranked as the #4 best place to retire. Laconia came out ahead of Burlington, Vermont, Providence, Rhode Island, and just behind Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and Portland, Maine.

Another PODS article named Exeter, Peterborough, and Gilford, as the three top towns to retire to in New Hampshire. The article mentioned Gilford’s scenic beauty and plenty of ways to engage in outdoor recreation and stay active all year. With Lake Winnipesaukee and Gunstock Mountain Resort in your backyard, life is good. Holderness, New Hampshire, was number 12 on the list. In other reports & studies, Meredith and Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, came out with high rankings. Meredith was named “one of the ten best small towns on the East Coast” by Travel + Leisure. In August of 2023, Travel + Leisure named Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, “the second-best small town in the United States.” The saying goes, “Life is good in New Hampshire.”

This article was written by Frank Roche. Frank is president of Roche Realty Group in Meredith, NH, and can be reached at (603) 279-7046. Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market.

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