2016 was a recording-breaking year for Windsor housing permits | MyWindsorNow.com

2016 was a recording-breaking year for Windsor housing permits

James Redmond
jredmond@mywindsornow.com

Anyone driving around Windsor easily can find whole neighborhoods of newly built homes — and see in the distance even more developments under construction.

Windsor's housing market has boomed in recent years, and 2016 proved a record-breaking year for building permits.

Windsor issued 690 single-family building permits in 2016, a 142 percent increase from the prior year's 285 permits, said Scott Ballstadt, Windsor's director of planning.

It's a record amount for Windsor, easily beating the previous record of 451 single-family home permits set in 2000 and tied in 2005.

“Windsor issued 690 single-family building permits in 2016, a 142 percent increase from the prior year’s 285 permits.”Scott BallstadtWindsor’s director of planning

Windsor's single-family home permit numbers even reigned supreme regionally, beating out Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley — which had 410, 347 and 244 permits respectively, according to data presented by Ballstadt.

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Little vacancy

With so many homes going up in 2016, the number of vacant lots ready for houses also has been affected. At the end of 2016, Windsor had only 618 permit-ready lots available, Ballstadt said.

Compare that to 2010, when Windsor had 1,621 permit-ready lots available. Ballstadt said that number dropped and has stayed near the 600s for the past three years, however.

He said another 500 or so lots should become available and permit-ready this year.

Multi-family homes

Windsor's multi-family home permits also set a record. In 2016, the town issued 21 multi-family permits, beating the town's prior record of 13 set in 2015.

"It's good to see diversity in housing choices," Ballstadt said.

That diversity — and rapidly growing supply — may even have started to stabilize housing prices in Windsor.

Housing prices

Most average housing prices in northern Colorado have skyrocketed lately. That wasn't the case in the Windsor or Severance areas this year, however.

According to a Sears Real Estate data analysis provided by broker and partner Shelley Costigan, 946 homes sold in the Windsor-Severance area this past year, a 28.8 percent increase from 2015.

However, the median sales price in 2016 dropped 1.9 percent from 2015.

At The Group Real Estate's 2017 forecast and expo Wednesday night, Susie Ewing, president of The Group, presented data showing a small gain in home prices — about 3 percent — for the Windsor and Severance areas. However, she noted the gains were much smaller than other northern Colorado communities, due mostly to some power-priced houses in Severance and attached buildings in Windsor, she said.

That doesn't mean the Windsor-Severance area is as affordable as the Greeley or Evans areas. Windsor-Severance houses still had a median sales price of $352,544, more than $100,000 higher than the $250,000 median sales price in the Greeley and Evans areas, according to Sears data.

Those $350,000 and higher prices make the Windsor-Severance area stick out in Weld County, which otherwise is considered the more affordable part of northern Colorado.

What it means

Weld's status as the affordable option in northern Colorado has given it a few unique advantages. That's what Colorado State Demographer Elizabeth Garner shared Wednesday at The Group's 2017 forecast in front of a packed audience at the Embassy Suites conference center.

Although many counties have a mostly balanced amount of jobs and residents, Weld is different, Garner said.

Residents aren't typically considered economic drivers, but Weld has a larger workforce than the county has jobs, she said.

"These guys live in Weld, they work outside (the county), they bring those earnings home and spend them locally," Garner said.

That makes Weld a huge labor-shed, well positioned near the rest of northern Colorado and the Denver metro area, she said.

More money in more pockets

Weld also has seen a small amount of growth in its household income level over the past couple years, while the state — and even Larimer County — have experienced some downward pressure, Garner said. Although the oil and gas industry drove a lot of that, Weld managed to diversify its economy enough that the area stayed strong even with the oil and gas downturn.

"It was nice to see Weld was on a positive (track)," Garner said. "Weld County has been on an upward trajectory since 2011. … There's been good development on the job side."

All of that, coupled with the region's relative affordability, creates a positive outlook for the Weld area, Garner said. Those factors should drive both economic and population growth in the coming years.

Looking ahead

Much of Garner's presentation focused on the way northern Colorado fits into the state's demographic picture, and the way the state fits into the broader region in demographic characteristics such as income, migration and age of the population. One takeaway, she said, is the state's rapid population growth likely will slow in the coming years.

Weld's affordable housing prices were a common theme in the real estate forecast presentation.

It makes Weld an attractive area for northern Colorado residents who need a lower-priced home. Income will play a pivotal role in the future of real estate, Garner predicted.

Data already show median household income of millennials is lower than the median household incomes of Generation X and baby boomers when they were 25-34 years old, Garner said. Areas will need entry-level houses for this next generation of home buyers.

Although almost every market — including Greeley and Weld — saw average home prices increase more than $100,000 in the past five years, Weld's average housing price is about $70,000 less than properties west of Interstate 25, said The Group Vice President Brandon Wells.

In the past few years, I-25 has become northern Colorado's Main Street, he said. In turn, that makes the infamous interstate and the troubles it could pose for future commuters a key consideration in the area's housing market, especially as higher prices west of I-25 push more people to live on the cheaper east side and commute.

"We are going to continue to see those (east of I-25) communities have a lot of growth," Wells said.

Demographics

To see more information about Colorado’s demographics go online to https://demography.dola.colorado.gov/.

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