A new report weighs the economic pros and cons of second homes, especially in towns where they make up a huge chunk of local real estate. A recent forecast of state job growth holds good news for health care workers...and bad news for teachers. And U.S. News ranks the fifty states, and finds Massachusetts and New Hampshire are the best.
- Jeff Feingold, editor of New Hampshire Business Review.
- Steve Norton, executive director of the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies (@stevenorton_nh).
- Russ Thibeault, president of Applied Economic Research, an economic and real estate consulting firm in Laconia.
When Interstate 93 came in, that was sort of like the spine that allowed a lot of people and dollars to flow towards the Lakes Region in the mountains...which connected a lot of wallets in the Boston area... The 60s and 70s particularly had a really robust market, and that investment climate really fueled it along with accessibility.
Particularly in terms of impact on funding services, by and large, second homes are positive.
The downsides are, as someone that lives in the Lakes region, people that have typical jobs in the Lakes region are priced off the lake. And that wasn't the case when I moved there in 1976. A plumber or an electrician could own a cottage, maybe a seasonal cottage on Winnipesaukee.
Now, that seasonal cottage has been purchased by someone that's affluent and has a McMansion.
The other negative that I sense going forward is that, if in fact the boomers move into these second homes, these million-and-a-half dollar...homes, the median price on Winnipesaukee [goes up].
If you go to town meetings in these places like Moultonboro where the median age is 58, they don't have a workforce. And they're trying to figure out how to provide these services... The state requires a certain level of workforce housing, but that may be inadequate, transportation may be inappropriate.
Mike raises a good point. You could divert some of this tax revenue to social services for low and median income households, but that doesn't happen... There's great resistance. In my experience, and I've worked in most of these communities, [is] there's a great resistance to change of any kind. They got inundated in the 70s and 60s with lakefront development.
One of the real problems has been that these communities with higher proportions of seasonal homes are also, in many cases, if not most, the most aggressive in trying to keep out workforce housing or affordable housing. They've used very drastic zoning regulations, like having two-acre lots, things like that... at some point, something's going to have to give. But we're not at that point yet.
When you look at demographic change in the state, you can see that we're getting older... You increase your spending on health care about two percent per year just by aging... I'm interested in what's going to happen when this baby boomer population becomes 75 and 80. Do they start moving to places where there are higher tertiary care services, because their needs are going to increase? ... I mean, there's no reason to disrespect any of the hospitals in the North Country or the Lakes Region. But that's a long ways from... the southern tier hospitals that have these tertiary and quaternary care services.