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The Changing Composition of JeffCo Housing

Major Findings:

  • While vacancy rates for both owner-occupied and renter-occupied housing decreased from 2010-2016, the cost of rent went up significantly for renters; homeowners, with or without a mortgage, enjoyed relatively stable monthly costs.

  • Half of renters live in unaffordable housing (pay more than 30% of their gross annual income, or HUD's indicator of affordability), while only 26.5% of homeowners with mortgages paid more than 30%.  

  • The availability of lower- and moderately-priced homes in Jefferson County decreased while the number of homes priced above $300,000 increased.  

 

 

 

It's clear that there has been a lot of development over the last few years in the metro area, but how much exactly?  The Census Bureau's American Community Survey allows us to look a little deeper into how Jefferson County is changing, and unfortunately it doesn't look great for anyone but property owners.

 

In 2016, owner-occupied housing made up approximately 70% of JeffCo housing stock and of that population, 73.8% were still paying a mortgage, and 26.2% owned the property in full and were not paying a mortgage.  29.3% of the house- holds rented their homes.

 

From 2010 to 2016, vacancy rates decreased for both owner- and renter-occupied homes (from 1.5 to 0.6 for owner-occupied and from 5.2 to 2.6 for renter-occupied) as the city's population grew (see the blue lines in the chart below). 

 

During that same time, monthly costs for homeowners, both with and without mortgages, remained relatively stable (for homes with a mortgage, the median cost of $1,754 a month in 2010 decreased to $1,681 a month in 2016, and for homes with no mortgage, monthly household costs increased from $435 in 2010 to $463 a month in 2016), while costs for renters increased from a monthly median cost of $900 in 2010 to $1,118 in 2016. 

 

What does this tell us?  For one, the typical economic "Supply/Demand" concept only works for renter-occupied housing units, wherein as the availability of housing drops, rental prices go up, whereas for owner-occupied housing units, the supply drops and housing costs, with or without a mortgage, still stays relatively stable.  

 

HUD defines affordable housing as costs of 30% or less of a household's gross annual income.  In 2016, 26.5% of homeowners with mortgages and 9.9% of homeowners with no mortgage paid more than 30% of their gross annual income.  But for renters, 49.7% paid more than 30% of their income each month - a stark contrast.   

 

Affordability becomes even more of an issue when we look at the changing trends of home values.  From 2010 to 2016, the number of homes valued between $100,000 and $299,999 decreased an average of 4.6%, while the number of homes valued between $300,000 and $999,999 increased an average of 6.4%.  This means the starter homes that may help renters into homeownership - and possibly  into an affordable housing situation - are becoming fewer.  Without affordably-priced housing, it is very hard for anyone to live comfortably.

 

 

 

 

Data courtesy of the Census Bureau's American Community Survey via American Fact Finder.  Analysis by the JeffCo Housing Exchange.

 

 

 

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