You know, I’ve been a Realtor in Summit County since 1985. I’ve rarely seen anyone or any group “snap up” housing for short term rental, as described in a recent Summit Daily News article about worker housing shortages. There are no evil, shadowy groups lurking out there, waiting to snatch housing from the workers.
A few million-dollar homes in Breckenridge have been bought by groups who hire a resident housekeeper and use the place for kind of an upscale hostel for European guests who are used to staying in zimmers in Switzerland. And I’m not even sure any of them are still operating.
This continual outcry about how short term rentals are taking housing away from locals is just nonsense.
Any responsible Realtor tells buyers that at these prices the only kind of rental that makes any business sense in Summit County, i.e. that will break even or cash flow, is long term rental. And even then you’ll probably need to pay cash because the property won’t break even let alone cash flow if you have a mortgage in addition to taxes, dues and other costs.
And any responsible Realtor tells buyers that if they really need to rent to be able to keep a second home, this isn’t the market for them.
The shortage of worker housing stems largely from increasing numbers of owners who want to use their second home during the year.They understand that short term rentals will only defray some of the cost and often don’t need or want to rent at all.
About half of second homes in this county are never rented. Yes, you can say it’s a shame that these properties sit vacant for most of the year, but the owners can afford to do that and are paying to be able to use it whenever they want.
But there are other barriers to affordable housing including high construction costs and expensive land pushed by the severe lack of private land in Summit County. We can’t build our way out of this problem as they do in other markets.
Housing has always been really expensive in Summit County. Even when houses were $60,000 rent was $300 month and you were probably making $500. And yet about 30,000 of us have found a way to live here.
So what will happen is what has always happened. Employers will continue to raise wages slowly. The County, towns and ski resort operators will build deed restricted and employee housing until they run out of empty parking lots. Current owners will age and spend less time here and start renting long term before selling and beginning the cycle again.
And all the way along, the only thing everyone will agree on is that it is hard to live here. And I for one think it’s worth it, none the less.