With the steep rise in the cost of housing in Fort Collins, we were curious to hear what people who have always dreamed of owning homeownership in and around this city are now thinking.
The average median price of a home in Fort Collins has reached $600,000 and interest rates are rising.
So last week we asked you: do you have a future in northern Colorado?
More specifically: “How has persistently high housing prices affected your desire to live in northern Colorado? Have you completely given up on becoming an owner? For current owners, have you considered selling to cash in or moving to find what you want? What factors do you weigh when considering your future here?”
When we shared this question with the Fort Collins subreddit, it produced over 200 responses. And yes, some say they have already left Colorado or will not hesitate to move.
In a few cases, commentators have noted that their ability to own a home was impaired after moving to Fort Collins from a location with even higher housing costs.
For others on the Reddit forum, the competition around buying a home has kept them from owning, but they can still afford to rent.
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Some are still able to save for a down payment on a house, but that house won’t be here in northern Colorado.
While continuing to rent, many are, for now at least, investing extra money outside of real estate.
However, there is a lot of frustration at not being able to buy a home or rent in the Fort Collins area.
Rents have gone up, even for those who have been good tenants and paid on time. And, of course, many tenants said they had thought about trying to buy. But fierce competition for homes and the proliferation of cash buyers made it an impossible endeavor.
For those who simply cannot leave, for reasons such as shared custody of children or caring for a family member, the situation seems hopeless.
Fort Collins has become a place where low-income residents cannot stay, a few residents said. And that has implications for the culture of the city and the climate of the region: service workers cannot come. Artists can’t do it. People moving away from their workplaces are traveling longer distances, adding pressure to northern Colorado’s roads and air quality.
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A few people said that even though their price hadn’t already sold out in the rental market, they knew that day would come.
But if you left, where could you go, many have asked? Prices are rising across the United States and the gap between Fort Collins housing prices and other cities is narrowing. Add in Colorado’s low property tax rate and living elsewhere could cause those bills to rise.
Many other places seem less desirable, residents said, in addition to unknowns like: Can I get a job there? Are the social opportunities meeting my needs? If it’s a rural area, can I get a reliable internet connection for remote work?
Some have taken the leap: A family sold their home and bought a trailer for a whole new way of life, no matter where the road takes them.
Embracing multigenerational housing was a way of surviving for at least one person on the forum.
And there were reports of finally finding a home, either as a tenant or a buyer, but not in Fort Collins. In Greeley, Loveland and Windsor instead, or in more affordable but more remote locations, such as the Colorado West Slope or Cheyenne, Wyoming.
To take part:Here’s how to participate in Coloradoan Conversations, Coloradoan’s new opinion forum
A few commentators noted that they were able to enter the housing market by competing with cash buyers: They used a service that gives them the money.
But the thought of spending half a million dollars on a modest home makes some people feel risk averse. Will the housing market crash and leave them underwater? Will they also have to pay more money for a house that needs work?
Some wait, hoping the market corrects.
As for people who already own homes, it’s hard to say how many are talking about leaving the area. But one forum owner noted that with rising property values and therefore property taxes, his intention to stay in Fort Collins is in question. On a fixed income, it’s tempting to sell and move to a place where they could pay cash for an even nicer home.
For many people who want to stay in Fort Collins, it comes down to trade-offs: what are they willing to accept in order to stay and enjoy what they love about Fort Collins life? Is it worth it even in a smaller house or an older house that will require more maintenance? Are they ready to be “poor at home”?
Throughout the conversation, a few ideas popped up to make housing more affordable here:
- Allow rent control.
- Don’t let a single owner buy more than 10 houses to rent out.
- Forcing landlords to wait five years before renting a house.
- Increase housing supply with higher density developments.
- End Fort Collins’ “U+2” housing occupancy limit so more people can live together and share the rent or mortgage.
- Conversely, hold the occupancy limit because getting rid of U+2 could instead push up house prices if homeowner investors have more incentive to buy more homes with higher occupancy and higher rent.
- Prohibit or reduce single-family zoning for future developments.
- Look to see if corporate buyers or international investors are contributing significantly to the price increase. If so, set policies to limit their influence.
For many, high housing prices in Fort Collins are the accepted price of heaven. But it’s clear that heaven doesn’t shine so bright for those struggling to cover the bill.
Rebecca Powell is content strategist at Coloradoan, working to connect our community with the answers they seek. Contact her at [email protected]. The Coloradoan cannot do the important work of keeping our community informed without you. Support us by purchasing a digital subscription today.