May 2, 2021


Developer looks to experiment with 'micro-loft' housing near River Park in West Lebanon (TIM CAMERATO, 5/01/21, Valley News)

The units would be built by Bequall, creators of the 345-square-foot "BePod," a manufactured tiny home that made its first appearance in Chelsea, Mass., earlier this year.

The company's creators have touted the home as a potential solution for housing shortages, taking little time to build and costing less to rent than the average apartment.

On its website, Bequall says the homes are geared to single adults and couples without children, with a specific eye to renters who cannot afford the down payment for a traditional home.

"We saw a sort of philosophical alignment, if you will," Chet Clem, president of Lyme Properties, said in a phone interview Monday. "They're trying to solve a really important nationwide issue now in terms of housing shortages. We like to be experimental and push the envelope, too."

A 2019 housing survey commissioned by Dartmouth College and Dartmouth-Hitchcock found there was a demand for 1,300 units between the two institutions.

Since then, people have continued moving to the area during the coronavirus pandemic, and a new report issued recently by three regional planning commissions in the Upper Valley found that 10,000 new housing units will be needed by 2030.

While Clem's proposal is based on the "BePod," the homes that would be installed at 215 N. Main St., would be roughly double in size -- 690 square feet.

'It's pretty much insanity': Pandemic-weary out-of-staters make Upper Valley housing market a feeding frenzy (JOHN LIPPMAN, 5/01/21, Valley News)

The Vermont Center for Geographic Information, using property-transfer tax addresses collected by the Vermont Department of Taxes, found that property sales in Vermont to out-of-state buyers increased 38% in 2020 over the prior year. Among individual Vermont towns in the Upper Valley, the surge to out-of-state buyers is even greater: up 97% in Woodstock (36 sales to 71 sales), 29% in Hartford (106 sales to 137 sales) and 113% in Norwich (8 sales to 17 sales).

Those findings sync with an analysis of address changes published last month in The New York Times, which, relying on U.S. Postal Service data, shows that the Lebanon area had one of the biggest influxes of population in the country, ranking 7 out of 926 metro areas measured with a 3.7% positive net shift in in-migration from 2019 to 2020.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal published a list in conjunction with of the most-sought places in the country for home buyers seeking appreciating values with "appealing lifestyle amenities" and ranked Lebanon-Claremont 183 out of 300 metro markets (Concord, N.H., was No. 8, Manchester-Nashua, N.H., was No. 9, and Burlington, Vt., was No. 92).

That sounds about right to Paul Rea, a Randolph real estate broker who specializes in Orange County.

"It's a lot of folks from Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, all around the country, who are looking for the safety and security that Vermont offers," Rea said of the buyers he's seen over the past 17 months.

Rea, who normally sells 35 to 40 houses a year totaling around $6 million in sales, said he sold 64 properties totaling $10 million in sales in 2020, exceeding his prior 2018 record of 42 properties totaling $7.5 million in sales.

But the result of record-breaking real estate sales means that the number of homes available for sale has depleted, in some Upper Valley towns to near-zero levels, a nadir real estate agents say they never recall seeing.

Posted by at May 2, 2021 12:00 AM