NH Realtors Association’s new president wants to focus on affordable housing
‘The business community is going to be affected by this hugely,’ he says
As Adam Gaudet looks ahead to being the 2022 president of the New Hampshire Association of Realtors, he’s seeing a likely repeat of 2021 with a low inventory of homes for sale driving housing prices statewide ever higher, more out of reach for some buyers.
But he’s also looking to be a voice that advocates for policy change at the state and local levels to get more affordable housing built.
“My goal is to be as loud as possible about the lack of affordable housing we have in the Granite State, and the long term negative impacts that we’ll face if we don’t address it now,” said Gaudet, owner/operator of 603 Birch Realty in Concord.
For Gaudet, it’s a situation that is as much personal as it is professional.
“I have close friends who are also clients. She’s a nurse, he’s a teacher. They’re excellent at what they do. These are top notch professionals,” he said. “They can’t find what they can afford. They just can’t and they’ve been flexible; they upped their budget, but they cannot find it. Now they’re shopping in North Carolina and Georgia, and New Hampshire is going to lose a very qualified nurse and a very qualified teacher.”
Affordable housing and workforce have become two sides of the same coin in New Hampshire. If the state wants to build up and keep a workforce, it needs affordable homes for these people to live, according to Gaudet.
“The business community is going to be affected by this hugely, and we need many voices who are championing affordable housing for all,” said Gaudet. “We need a mixture of affordable housing. You can’t regulate and price out people out of specific towns or you won’t have anybody to work at your nursing homes or anywhere; you’re not gonna have the labor there.”
Gaudet becomes president of the statewide association of Realtors for a one-year term beginning Jan. 1, succeeding Jim Lee of RE/MAX Shoreline in Portsmouth. Gaudet also served as president of the Seacoast Board of Realtors in 2019.
From Chester and a 2006 graduate of Keene State College, he’s the son of a Realtor. He recalls attending open houses with his mother, exploring homes and “feeling like the luckiest kid in the world.”
“Driving around with my mom and just seeing the flexibility of the schedule that all, from a very young age, just stuck with me,” he said.
He worked outside the industry until getting his real estate license in 2014 and then joined Keller Williams Realty. Two years later, he got his broker’s license and opened 603 Birch Realty.
Gaudet always thought he’d be a one-man band.
“The plan was to just keep low overhead and just be me, and then I had agents coming to me that wanted to work with me,” he said. “I’m at seven agents now. We are very close. We are like a family, as much of a cliche as that sounds, but we all have a great relationship, and it’s such a positive work environment.”
He moved the office from Chester to Concord about a year ago.
‘Perfect storm’ of circumstances
It’s been a topsy-turvy couple of years in terms of a pandemic-affected economy that saw almost every sector sink except for real estate, which went through the roof, particularly in New Hampshire where out of state buyers sought refuge from crowded urban areas.
“They had cash like you wouldn’t believe,” said Gaudet. “They all went over asking, way over asking.”
This was one element of what Gaudet described as a “perfect storm” of circumstances that has driven prices to record highs, while the number of homes for sale – the inventory – is at record lows.
Each month, the NHAR issues a report on the previous month’s trends – volume of sales, median prices and inventory.
The latest report in November shows the median price of a home in the Granite State is $401,000, a record.
“The $401,000 in November is the highest for the month in New Hampshire history, and the $392,500 median price year to date is also a New Hampshire all-time high, and 18 percent over the first 11 months of last year,” the NHAR reported.
Yet inventory was at near-record lows.
Here are some of the other factors in Gaudet’s view of the perfect storm: Building new homes is expensive in terms of labor and supplies and restrictive in terms of local zoning in some towns. During the pandemic, people are staying in the safety of their houses longer.
And at the heart of it all is inventory – the lack thereof, which puts upward pressure on the prices of the fewer homes that are available.
“The inventory situation, unfortunately, is not going to change overnight. It’s going to take a lot of work,” said Gaudet.
As president, Gaudet said he wants to engage Saint Anselm College and the University of New Hampshire to study what the workforce housing problems are, where they are, and what the solutions might be. He wants other Realtors engaged in the issue, and he’d like the business community engaged as well.
“We’re not going to ruin New Hampshire by building some more houses. We just need more affordable neighborhoods,” he said.
Gaudet was accepted into the NHAR Leadership Academy in 2016, created by the organization that year to enhance the skills of members considering service in leadership positions at the local, state or national level, while augmenting their personal and professional lives as well. Successful completion of the program put him in the trajectory to become the 2022 president.
“As a newer agent and broker, I saw the New Hampshire Realtors Leadership Academy as an opportunity to grow as a professional, and it has far exceeded my expectations, both professionally and personally,” Gaudet said in a brochure about the program. “The knowledge and skills I have learned, as well as the relationships I’ve built, are invaluable. I’m very grateful and proud to have been part of such an amazing program.”