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NH Housing Trends: Rockingham, Hillsborough & Strafford Counties

What’s not to love about living in New Hampshire? Continually ranked as one of the best states to live, residents enjoy low crime rates, great healthcare options and an affordable cost of living. Plus, not having to worry about sales and income tax doesn’t hurt the overall quality of life.

Another benefit of living in New Hampshire is the location variety throughout the small state. You could choose to live in a city setting like in Manchester, or in the beach town of Hampton. To break down your options, we’ve examined housing data and trends from the US Census Bureau for three of the most popular counties in New Hampshire:

  • Rockingham County (Portsmouth, Exeter, Hampton)
  • Hillsborough County (Manchester, Nashua)
  • Strafford County (Dover)

And while the most recent housing data available is from 2015, we’ve also incorporated research to determine housing trends and expectations for the future.

Rockingham County


Portsmouth, NH

As the unofficial capital of the Seacoast, Portsmouth is a quintessential seaport city only minutes from the Maine border and a quick shot to Massachusetts. The downtown scene includes top-rated restaurants and coffee shops blended in with luxury condos and apartments in prime locations, making it a coveted location for professionals both young and old.

Outside of downtown, you’ll find traditional New England-style homes in safe neighborhoods, as well as a great school district and all the necessary amenities.

Notable Portsmouth Spots

Median household income for occupied housing units$64,577$67,679$71,392
Median value of owner-occupied housing units$340,000$349,800$362,800
Median selected monthly owner costs – with a mortgage$2,127$2,160$2,114
Median property taxes$5,615$5,870$5,926
Median gross rent$1,114$1,138$1,142


What Does the Data Mean?

With Portsmouth’s convenient location and idyllic setting, the home values are a bit on the higher side compared to other spots in New Hampshire. Not surprisingly, from 2013 to 2015 home values, real estate taxes and rents saw an increase.

Median selected yearly homeowner costs with a mortgage accounted for 35% of household incomes. But with home values and household incomes increasing each year, an investment in a piece of property in Portsmouth could yield great benefits in the long run. Plus, who wouldn’t want to be close to the Atlantic during the height of summer?


Exeter, NH

One of the first settlements in New Hampshire, Exeter is a charming New England town with a quaint downtown featuring a variety of local restaurants and shops. And with Phillips Exeter Academy and a school district with a 10/10 rating, Exeter is a desirable location for families.

The town continually has a variety of condos, townhouses and homes available throughout its almost 20 square miles.

Notable Exeter Spots

Median household income for occupied housing units$74,350$74,071$73,519
Median value of owner-occupied housing units$281,800$274,500$270,900
Median selected monthly owner costs – with a mortgage$2,261$2,262$2,155
Median property taxes$6,527$6,575$6,564
Median gross rent$1,131$1,156$1,174


What Does the Data Mean?

From 2013 to 2015, home values decreased by 4% in Exeter. On the brightside, this also brought lower monthly homeowner costs. But even with this dip, median gross rents were at their peak in 2015.

A good thing to keep in mind is that Exeter property taxes are billed twice a year in June and November. Since Exeter has the highest median property taxes on our list, this will be an important factor when searching for a home. 


Hampton, NH

A beach town with a suburban feel, Hampton is a quick drive from Massachusetts and Portsmouth. While it has a relatively low population, Hampton swells during the summer with tourists and summer rentals, since it is most popular beach in the Seacoast region.

The Blue Water Mortgage team likes Hampton so much, we even call it home to our main office! 

Notable Hampton Spots

Median household income for occupied housing units$68,162$73,750$76,836
Median value of owner-occupied housing units$329,200$331,500$339,800
Median selected monthly owner costs – with a mortgage$2,157$2,155$2,072
Median property taxes$5,689$5,712$5,664
Median gross rent$1,137$1,135$1,124


What Does the Data Mean?

Home values climbed 3% from 2013 to 2015 while monthly owner costs dropped 4%. Median property taxes fluctuated throughout these three years and median rents saw a slight dip.

Housing Forecast for Rockingham County

As of June 2017, reports the median list price for homes in Rockingham county as $382,000 with a 4.5% increase year over year. This is on par with the median home values reported in the above charts, with Portsmouth and Hampton having some of the highest in the county.

While the 4.5% increase might seem high, it’s the lowest in New Hampshire. Still, with the growing appeal of the Seacoast area it’s best to move quickly when it comes to finding properties in Rockingham county.

The 10 Questions You Need to Ask Before Buying a Home

Hillsborough County


Manchester, NH

Manchester is New Hampshire and northern New England’s largest city, situated right on the Merrimack River. The center of industry for the state, the city is rampant with historic mill buildings that are used both residentially and commercially.

Manchester also has convenient access to an airport that offers easy-to-navigate parking options and direct flights to cities across the country. It’s also only 18 miles south of the capital city of Concord and the headquarters for Southern New Hampshire University.

Notable Manchester Spots

Median household income for occupied housing units$54,496$55,306$54,282
Median value of owner-occupied housing units$217,800$209,600$204,700
Median selected monthly owner costs – with a mortgage$1,869$1,829$1,774
Median property taxes$4,547$4,582$4,597
Median gross rent$994$1,002$1,014


What Does the Data Mean?

Manchester home values saw a 6% decrease from 2013 to 2015, but rents saw a slight uptick each year. As home values decreased, so did monthly owner costs but property taxes still climbed.


Nashua, NH

Nashua is New Hampshire’s second largest city and just 45 minutes from Boston. The city has been going through a revitalization period over the last few years, and was recently named one of the best places to live in the country. New housing developments, growing businesses on Main Street and young families are bringing new life to the city, making it a popular place to call home in New Hampshire. 

Notable Nashua Spots

Median household income for occupied housing units$64,661$66,818$67,246
Median value of owner-occupied housing units$244,600$240,500$240,800
Median selected monthly owner costs – with a mortgage$1,995$1,956$1,936
Median property taxes$4,937$4,931$5,049
Median gross rent$1,082$1,110$1,113


What Does the Data Mean?

Home values in Nashua saw a decrease between 2013 and 2014, but started to climb back up in 2015. Notably, property taxes increased 2% from 2014 to 2015 and median monthly homeowner costs accounted for 34% of median household income. 

Housing Forecast for Hillsborough County

Median list prices for Hillsborough in June 2017 were $323,800, according to Hillsborough county has the highest year-over-year median list price percent increase in New Hampshire, at 11.7%

This means that if you’ve been thinking about buying a home in Manchester, Nashua or any of the other great towns in Hillsborough county, the high year-over-year increase in list prices may mean you should make moves sooner rather than later.

Do you prequalify for a mortgage? Find out here.

Strafford County


Dover, NH

Dover is the oldest permanent settlement in the state and the seventh oldest in the country. A little-known gem just north of Portsmouth, the city is located right on the Cocheco and Bellamy rivers, offering great scenery for locals and visitors. The downtown scene is rich with exceptional restaurants, quaint shops and mill-style apartments and condos. 

Notable Dover Spots

Median household income for occupied housing units$57,389$60,038$61,008
Median value of owner-occupied housing units$244,000$241,800$242,800
Median selected monthly owner costs – with a mortgage$2,043$2,033$1,946
Median property taxes$5,754$5,876$5,859
Median gross rent$983$997$977


What Does the Data Mean?

2014 saw low home values, high rents and high real estate taxes. But in 2015, home values started to climb back up, rents were at their lowest in three years and real estate taxes slightly dipped. 

Housing Forecast for Strafford County

Dover is one of the fastest growing cities in New Hampshire, so expect housing demands and home values to rise. In June 2017, reported the median list price for homes in Strafford county as $274,000 with a 5.6% increase year-over-year.

Interested in mortgage rates for these or any other New Hampshire counties? Contact the Blue Water team and we’d be happy to answer any of your questions.