Housing

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

There are a lot of people wanting to buy homes in Northern Colorado right now. The problem is there’s not many for sale.

This might seem like a great business opportunity for developers. Build more houses, and the buyers will come. A proposed development next to the Dry Creek neighborhood in northeast Fort Collins shows that the situation is more complicated than that.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

On a sunny afternoon in a quiet neighborhood in Fort Collins, school buses are rumbling by and people are out walking their dogs. Heidi McCoy, an energetic redhead in her thirties, is taking a peek over the fence at what will soon be her new home.

"The little yard is enclosed with trees and the yard sets back off from the other street as well," she said. "It just feels nice and quiet."

McCoy, who runs a martial arts school in the south of town, has been looking for a family-friendly home in a quiet neighborhood for a while. In this market, it's not an easy task. From Denver north to Fort Collins, Front Range homes are in high demand. And the market is taking its toll on those seeking a place to live. 

Jim Hill / KUNC

Northern Colorado is the fastest growing part of a fast-growing state. A recent release from the U.S. Census Bureau found that Greeley was the fastest growing area in the country, at 2.6 percent. During that same period, from July 2013 to July 2014, Fort Collins was the 12th fastest growing, at 2.4 percent.

While growth is often seen as good for the economy, the speed of the change is creating a housing crunch. From Denver to Fort Collins, renters and buyers are being squeezed.

Essentially, this is a supply and demand problem. There are too many buyers and renters, and not enough apartments and homes.

Joe Mahoney / Rocky Mountain PBS I-News, File

For families seeking affordable housing in Fort Collins, the best option might be to start searching somewhere else. While the city recently announced it would bump up its assistance to $15,000 for qualified families, the stock of homes meeting program criteria is almost nonexistent.

According to a KUNC search of available properties that meet the city's Homebuyer Assistance Program standards (the sale price must be under $237,500), there are 10 available properties in town that fit that requirement.

"Historically, the program has helped up to 40 households a year when there is sufficient affordable inventory," said Beth Rosen, the city's affordable housing administrator. "In 2014, I was only able to assist 8 households. In 2013, I assisted 15."

Studying The Anthropology Of North Dakota's Oil Boom Man Camps

Feb 11, 2015
Andrew Cullen / Inside Energy

"Man camps" are a defining characteristic of an oil boom. Development happens so fast, there's never enough time to build adequate permanent housing - so temporary worker housing takes up the slack. When oil prices come crashing down, the man camps empty out.

Two researchers from the University of North Dakota, Bill Caraher and Bret Webber, said this housing boom-bust cycle is just part of a long history of settlement on the northern Great Plains. As part of their ongoing North Dakota Man Camp Project, they visit dozens of RV parks across the Bakken multiple times a year, interviewing residents and taking note of changes.

Prizmatic / Flickr - Creative Commons

Boulder residents can officially rest easy knowing that they have the most toilets per person of any city in the country. Denver has a place on the porcelain ranking too. That’s according to Redfin, a real estate broker and technology company, who recently mused on their blog on the cities in America with the most toilets per household.

Nathan Heffel / KUNC

Summit County has distinct advantages like sprawling mountain vistas and world class ski resorts, making it a prime vacation spot. But for the county's educated middle class, living there full-time, there are disadvantages to calling the county home.

Making ends meet, and buying a home here, is harder than it looks.

Bradley Gordon / Flickr-Creative Commons

A Colorado Division of Housing 2014 first quarter report [.pdf] found that rents in many Front Range cities hit an all time high, with rents in the Loveland-Fort Collins metropolitan area jumping 17.2 percent from this time last year. Fort Collins average rent hit $1,183, and Denver's average rents are $1,073.

It turns out those high rental rates may also be affecting the local housing market, real estate agents say.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr - Creative Commons

Greeley’s fast growing economy and low unemployment rate does have its downsides. Rent is on the increase in the oil boomtown.

This week, we're exploring the San Francisco Bay Area and the way income inequality is affecting the region. Check out the other pieces of the week, aggregated on this page.

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