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Surge in home prices making it tough for first-time homebuyers

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Posted at 8:12 PM, Oct 12, 2021

COLORADO SPRINGS — Anyone who has searched for or sold a home knows prices have skyrocketed.

Data shows home prices for Colorado Springs increased 24 percent over the last year.

"I just want a house with a backyard. I want the American Dream just like everyone else and it's frustrating because I can't have it," said Amanda Sharp.

It's been three years since Sharp started the search for her dream home.

"I went through the house buying process twice and both times I was outbid by multiple offers and by people paying tens of thousands of dollars over," said Sharp.

Sharp has been working with her realtor and loan officer to come up with a plan for buying her first home. With the market, she's decided to forgo her search for now.

"With the way the prices are, way the market is going, and the trends. When I am ready to buy in a year or a year in a half, I don't even know if I'll be able to afford it. Not everyone can afford a $500,00 or $600,000 house," said Sharp. "I really just want a modest home, I've even considered getting a new build but you can't get a house built under $400,000 here. They say they start in the low 300s but that is before you start looking at the plots, add-ons, and everything else. By the time you're done you have a $400,000 to $450,000 home."

Tatiana Bailey, Director of the UCCS Economic Forum, says there are multiple reasons for the home price surge.

"It's the pandemic, low-interest rates, and the fact that we have a six million deficit in terms of single-family homes in the United States. That is a remnant of the Great Recession, a lot of builders went out of business, back homes weren't built as much, and builders still in business scaled back," said Bailey.

She says part of the reason Colorado Springs is seeing double-digit gains is people migrating to the area.

"The perception is that Denver is more expensive, Boulder is a lot more expensive. With Colorado Springs, people are taking advantage of the fact that it's not quite as expensive, it's getting there now but it's not quite as expensive. Even prior to COVID, I live in Monument, and I can't believe how many Denver people there were before COVID that said I only have to go into the office one or two times a week. Now, some of them are working 100 percent from home and moving to Colorado Springs for more space and better affordability."

What's made this surge different than previous years is how widespread it's become.

"I talk with people in Pueblo in Economic Development, and they have said that it's kinda sad in some ways because some of the Pueblo residents who were renters before and wanted to buy now are priced out of the market by the Colorado Springs people who are moving down there for more affordable housing. A lot of the military, Amazon workers, firefighters, and policemen. Those middle to middle-lower wage categories where people are saying I just can't pay $600,000 or $700,00 for a nice home in Colorado Springs but I can in Pueblo, " said Bailey.

While she doesn't expect demand to be as intense as recently, she doesn't expect the surge to go away anytime soon.

"There are still buyers out there. The other side of the equation is that at some point, prices have to moderate because wages aren't keeping pace. It's really unfortunate because who's been hit the hardest during the pandemic? It's lower-wage workers. So if you have a family that has been working hard and saving up but all of a sudden home prices are increasing by ten, fifteen, twenty-five percent. They can no longer afford a down payment for a home. They are just really being priced out of the market."

"Talk to people, get your ducks in a row, and make sure you know what you're getting into because when you get into buying a home it beats you up," said Sharp. "If you're going to move to Colorado or Colorado Springs, have that expectation that you're going to pay a lot of money to live here. I see a lot of people that move out here with a lot of dreams and aspirations. They want to live in the mountains and have a piece of this, and they get out of here and end up on the streets."

UCCS plans to host a free virtual event this Thursday from 1-4 to discuss housing among other issues. To access the event, click here.