9. Seasonal Housing
In addition to housing units that are occupied on a year round basis, Conway, as a tourist and vacation destination, has a significant portion of its housing supply that is only used on a seasonal basis. Typically seasonal housing units are primarily used during the peak tourist periods, which in many communities is summer. However, due to Conway’s niche as both a summer outdoor recreation and shopping area and winter ski destination, many seasonal housing units in the town (comprised of both condominium and noncondominium dwelling units) are used at different time periods throughout the year.
According to the 2000 Census, Conway had 5,927 housing units of which 1,797 are designated as seasonal units – representing approximately 30% of the total housing stock. Based on Census data, Conway, between 1990 and 2000, experienced a reduction of 400 dwelling units classified as seasonal. This represents a 9% decline in seasonal dwelling units as a share of the total housing stock. The drop in the number of seasonal housing units could be attributed to the conversion of some of these dwellings to year-round units. However, the drop in the number of seasonal units may also be attributed to a change in the Census Bureau’s definition of a seasonal unit.
In addition to the information on seasonal housing units provided by the Census, Conway’s property assessment database was used to identify, in general terms, an estimate of seasonal housing units. It must be noted that this type of analysis provides only a “broad-brush” indicator of seasonal housing as the database does not distinguish whether each respective unit is seasonal or year-round. The assumption was made that due to the attraction of Conway as a seasonal destination, that the majority of units owned by individuals who list a mailing address outside of Conway would be using the Conway property as a seasonal or secondary home. It was also assumed that a small portion of the units owned by individuals who live outside of Conway are rented to local residents. This type of analysis, however, does not indicate seasonal units within Conway that are owned by Conway residents. As indicated in Figure 3-7, 54% of the single family units, condominiums and mobile homes are owned by Conway residents. About 25% of these dwelling units are owned by people who list Massachusetts as their mailing address.
Although Conway residents own the majority of the residential units analyzed in Figure 3-7, when the origin of ownership for condominium units is analyzed, individuals from outside of Conway own a majority of these units. As indicated in Figure 3-8, Conway residents own one quarter of the condominium units with 16% of the units owned by New Hampshire residents that list an address outside of Conway. It is interesting to note that over 40% of the condominium units are owned by individuals from Massachusetts - by far the largest origin of ownership for condominiums in Conway.