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Housing assessment highlights high prices, low inventory in Park County

As investors play a growing role in the housing market, many first-time buyers are having a hard time finding a home.
As investors play a growing role in the housing market, many first-time buyers are having a hard time finding a home.

A new survey of housing needs in Park County found there aren’t enough affordable homes for sale or rent.

The needs assessment released earlier this month by the Park County Housing Coalition shows that the median price of a single-family home has gone up by more than 50% during the pandemic, to more than $400,000.

Lila Fleishman with the nonprofit Human Resource Development Council, which authored the needs assessment, says that amount exceeds what local buyers can afford.

“The income typically needed to secure a mortgage in that range is over $100,000, but the majority of people that are earning local wages and living in Park County are not making enough money to purchase a home at that price,” Fleishman said.

Fleishman says there is a large inventory of multi-bedroom houses in Park County. Meanwhile, there is a significant need for smaller options for single-person households.

“There’s 2,433 (single person) households and then when you compare that to how many studios or one-bedroom homes are available there’s only 1,469," she said, "so that puts you in competition for those smaller homes."

Housing options for those in the lowest income brackets are especially scarce in Park County. HRDC found that there are around 1,000 individuals making less than $15,000 per year. For this group, there are only 221 homes available with related subsidies.

“That was a real eye-opener,” said Barb Oldershaw, program director for the Park County Community Foundation, the organization that helped kickstart the creation of the Park County Housing Coalition.

“I think what that means is folks are either doubling up with other households or sleeping in their mobile homes or campers, other kinds of housing that is not technically considered full-time housing.”

HRDC has released a draft housing action plan with potential solutions including adding accessory dwelling units and down payment assistance. The public can submit feedback online or during virtual and in-person meetings being held in the coming months.

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