COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - With more than 500 homes destroyed in the Black Forest Fire, over 500 homeowners are now looking for a place to live. The rise in demand, and already limited supply of property rentals in the Pikes Peak Region, may mean higher rental prices for everyone.
It's a trend that Gayle Nichols, realtor with ERA Herman Group Real Estate, says she's noticed. Nichols said the majority of her clients are looking for rental properties and some have been displaced by the fire. She said the same thing happened during last summer's Waldo Canyon Fire.
"We'd never had that experience before in Colorado Springs. So there was not a lot of rentals out when Waldo Canyon started and a lot of people were scrambling. But I've noticed it's a lot worse now," Nichols said. "There's just a limited amount of rentals."
Nichols noted that rates are normally higher during the summer months and that higher interest rates could also affect a renter's perception of high rent.
The economy and job market also play a part in the number of people renting as opposed to buying. According to statistics from the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service, average rent has been rising in Colorado Springs for about six years.
One Fort Carson soldier said he's been looking for a two-bedroom home for several months and noticed a spike in prices recently.
"Since the Black Forest Fire, I've noticed rent's gone up too," said Brandon Disher. "Looking it up on the internet, it shows where the homes are. When the fire started, it kind of dwindled down. You started seeing a lot of the houses going away."
Nichols said she's also noticed a lot more competition for rental properties, particularly ones with more land and room for animals. She was not sure, however, if all of the competition on those properties has been from people displaced by the Black Forest Fire.
Nichols said those looking for affordable housing should keep looking, but may have to lower their price expectations.
"I wouldn't get too discouraged right now. I mean, I think maybe in October I might be getting discouraged," Nichols said. "I think they'll find something. But they will be paying a lot more."
Many places are offering discounts, waived fees and special rates for those displaced by the fire. To see a full list, click here.