8. Housing Supply and Construction Trends

8. Housing Supply and Construction Trends
Compared to other towns within Carroll County, Conway’s housing supply has undergone considerable expansion over the past ten years. According to the U.S. Census, Conway had 5,927 housing units in 2000, which represents an increase of 428 units (7.8%) since 1990. Interestingly, the increase in housing units (7.8%) is 4.5% less than the household growth rate for the town between 1990 and 2000. This increased growth of households, as compared to housing units throughout the 1990s indicates that Conway’s housing supply has not kept up with changes in demand.
According to the NHOSP, between 1990 and 2000, 592 residential building permits were issued for new dwelling units in Conway. As shown in Figure 3-4, the total number of permits issued appears to spike heavily in 1992/1993 which is due to the issuance of a proportionately large number of multi-family permits. Excluding the 1992/1993 surge in multi-family building permits, the number of permits issued has remained relatively constant within a range of between 30 and 60 permits annually throughout the 1990s.
The spike in the issuance of multi-family building permits in 1992/1993 is attributed to the development of the Northbrook Condominiums on Ledgewood Drive in North Conway. This development consisted of eight separate buildings with a total of twelve units in each building. Notwithstanding the Northbrook development, this decline in construction activity in Conway during the early 1990s and the resurgence of construction in the late 1990s is indicative of the economic downturns and expansions experienced throughout New Hampshire during those time periods.
In terms of the distribution of the total number of building permits issued throughout the 1990s, the proportion of single family and multi-family permits issued were about the same, at approximately 40% each (Figure 3-5). Interestingly, between 1990 and 2000, the number of manufactured home permits issued increased on an annual basis. This increase in the number of manufactured homes may be an indication that homebuyers are turning toward this type of lower cost housing option as a reaction to steadily increasing prices within the region’s housing market. More details concerning the regional real estate market are provided in a subsequent section of this chapter.
From a regional perspective, Conway issued the second largest number of residential building permits for new construction over the last decade when compared to other communities in Carroll County. As shown in Figure 3-6, Conway was second only to Moultonborough in terms of the total number of building permits issued between 1990 and 1999. Although population growth has been most precipitous in towns in the southern portion of Carroll County, there does not appear to be the same linkage or correlation for residential construction activity. For example, the southern towns of Moultonborough and Wakefield experienced significant percentage gains in population throughout the 1990s (52% and 39% respectively), and also experienced considerable residential construction activity over the same time period (17% and 10% growth in the number of permits issued respectively). However, there are examples of more northerly communities, such as Conway and Bartlett, which experienced significant
residential construction (10% and 11% growth in the number of building permits issued) with only modest population increases (8% and 18% respectively) over the same time period. Furthermore the Town of Effingham, which experienced the largest percentage population increase of any town in Carroll County, issued only 34 residential building permits (the fifth lowest total of any town in the County).