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How to Solve the Affordable Housing Crisis

Three examples of Colorado communities that have made actionable changes and reaped the benefits


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In nearly every destination or gateway town, not only are short-term rentals squeezing the last drops out of the housing supply, but more profoundly, they are threatening the very character that drew in locals and tourists. 

For example, in Crested Butte in 1997, short-term rentals were a mere 6 percent; by 2016, they were almost 30 percent of the housing stock. Similar scenarios are playing out throughout the country in countless communities. How does this impact affordable housing

SHORT-TERM RENTALS HAVE BALLOONED

The total number of homes in places like Crested Butte have barely budged, while demand for housing has increased both from second homeowners and residents alike. This has driven prices up exponentially, as housing stock has ben removed due to the presence of short-term rentals. 

Sure, short-term rentals aren't the only factor contributing to high prices in resort communities and a lack of affordable stock, but they are a contributor to the decrease in supply of available units. 

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

Tourism in many areas continues to grow.

To keep up with the influx of visitors, businesses must hire employees. It's no surprise these employees have a shortage of places to live, and therefore it's harder for businesses to find employees in the first place. 

THERE IS A WAY TO ALLEVIATE THIS PROBLEM AND CREATE BALANCE IN THESE MARKETS

Of all the destination communities throughout the country, Colorado seems to be on the forefront, since there are so many communities heavily dependent on tourism. Here are three solutions that have been implemented:

1. DENVER

The metro area passed strict ordinances a property must your primary residence and written permission must be maintained from home owner's associations, landlords, owners, etc. This eliminates most nightly rentals in the city.


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2. SALIDA

The community took an innovative approach, as shifts from short-term rental zoning to commercial zones increased taxes substantially – from 7 percent to 29 percent.

3. DURANGO

They went a different route and placed strict limits on short-term rentals. They barred short-term rentals in certain areas and capped the number in each neighborhood block.


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WILL REGULATING SHORT-TERM RENTALS CAUSE VALUES TO PLUNGE?

There is talk that by limited short-term rentals, property values would plummet. 

This is not the case, as values in all three examples above have continued to climb well above national averages.

So, how can communities solve the affordable housing crisis?

By using one of the three methods above or a hybrid.

WHAT'S THE BEST APPROACH?

The optimal approach would be a combination of what Salida and Durango have done. There are certain neighborhoods where short-term rentals should not be permitted. For example, in Steamboat Springs, there are neighborhoods where the HOA bars short-term rentals. To be fair to all businesses, people renting their homes short-term should also be taxes as other businesses, like hotels.

TOWNS NEED TO FIND BALANCE

There is no way to completely eliminate short-term rentals, but cities should take back control of their housing stocks to help local businesses and residents cope with the affordable housing crisis that will only get worse without action.

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Glen Weinberg

Glen Weinberg is and owner and the chief operating officer of Fairview Commercial Lending, a privately funded hard money lender based in Evergreen.  Fairview has been lending since 1975 He is recognized throughout the industry as a leader in hard money/non-traditional real estate financing on both residential and commercial transactions throughout Colorado. More information on Colorado hard money loans can be found at www.fairviewlending.com  Reach him at 303.459.6061 or glen@fairviewlending.com

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