Apartment rent prices surpass ‘ceiling on affordability’

DOVER — Local private and public sector housing leaders convened at the annual State of the City event Thursday to discuss challenges with affordability, to hear from community leaders and to look toward Dover’s future.

Panelists spoke about struggles people face searching for apartments in the rental market.

Thomas Toye IV, owner and broker of Arthur Thomas Properties in Dover, reported that in 2023, rental prices of units managed by the business increased an average of 11%. In 2022, rental prices had increased 17% year over year, he said, citing a portfolio of properties in Dover, Rochester, Somersworth, Exeter and Newmarket.

Arthur Thomas Properties looks for renters whose monthly income is about three times higher than their expected rent, he said. In the case of a renter within a two-bedroom apartment advertised at $2,200 a month, a single person looking to have the entire unit to themselves would need to make roughly $80,000 a year to afford the space, according to Toye.

The Greater Dover Chamber of Commerce' State of the City featured, from left, retiring recreation director Gary Bannon, Kennebunk Savings Bank's Toni Gooch, Arthur Thomas Properties' Thomas Toye and city of housing vavigator Ryan Pope.

“We are seeing a ceiling for affordability. After all these years of increases, we’re starting to see pushback from renters on what they can even afford, or what they’re willing to pay,” he said.

In the first quarter of this year, Toye’s company has seen a 60% tenant renewal rate across its rental units.

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