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Saturday, June 28, 2014

In NH real estate market, newlyweds, college grads often priced out of homeownership

Owning a home has always been a symbol of adulthood, independence and financial stability.

For young people, owning or renting a home, condo or apartment is a sign of success and freedom. ...

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Owning a home has always been a symbol of adulthood, independence and financial stability.

For young people, owning or renting a home, condo or apartment is a sign of success and freedom.

No longer relegated to their parents’ basements or their childhood bedrooms, recent college graduates and newlyweds search for inexpensive ways to live autonomously. However, some find it difficult to achieve this life of liberty.

In a meeting with U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., on Friday, real estate agents from all over New Hampshire met to discuss the housing market in the state and ways in which it could be improved.

One problem on which Shaheen and several real estate agents focused was the lack of affordable housing for young couples and recent college graduates.

“One of the issues that we’ve been hearing about that affects the housing market is student loans,” Shaheen said.

When students graduate from college and go looking for a first job or first apartment, real estate agents say it’s difficult for them to find rentals within their price range when they’re weighed down by debt.

Paying off large student loans while also trying to save money for a future home doesn’t usually work well for these young buyers.

Gail Athas, a real estate agent in Bedford, said the housing market will remain stagnant for the foreseeable future because young people are finding it difficult to get into the housing market.

“They’re trying to save money, so they’re not really moving until there’s more money,” Athas said.

Brian Makris, a real estate agent from Bedford, said he has noticed younger couples are trying to save money by renting apartments or condos as opposed to buying a home, but are finding it difficult to save with rents so high.

And stricter lending policies are preventing many of them from qualifying for a mortgage.

“The first step is the
biggest challenge for so many homeowners,” Makris said.

Frequently, the first step for new homeowners is owning a condo, but there are challenges for both the prospective buyer and the real estate agent because of the current condo market.

“We have a lot of condos … and for one reason or another, you cannot put a homeowner in one,” Makris said.

Despite these issues, many real estate agents said they were hopeful for the future, given the increased number of home sales since the real estate crash in 2008.

Bill Weidacher, a Bedford real estate agent, said that in 2008, he had “never been more fearful for the country … for my job. It was scary.”

Weidacher said the housing market has improved since 2008, and he hopes for a future in which affordable housing is more readily available.

Shaheen agreed: “As we all know, that’s part of the American dream … if you want to own your own home, that you have that opportunity at some point.”

Emily Kwesell can be reached at 594-6466 or ekwesell@nashua
telegraph.com.