Boulder: Attached Homes Could be Focus for Affordable Housing

According to a study prepared by BBC Research & Consulting for the City of Boulder, attached homes maintain affordability better than detached homes. In the past four years, detached homes increased 10 percent in appreciation while condos appreciated 5 percent and townhomes appreciated 7 percent.

Another key finding is that attached homes grew by 150 square feet in size compared to 700 square feet for detached homes. The consultants noted that rentals remain affordable to the “middle market” and may be the only way to live in Boulder although purchasing an attached unit is cheaper than renting at current market rates.

Given these findings, it’s not surprising that BBC concludes that the City may want to focus on types of housing that are underrepresented but would be affordable for the middle market, such as duplex, triplex and fourplex homes and townhomes. Developers interviewed by BBC say that simplifying the building code to reduce conditions placed on alternative housing types with more flexibility, would help reduce the cost of developing housing.

While the results of the study are interesting, they’re also common sense. Any Realtor would have told the City this if they were asked. Attached homes have always offered the biggest bang for the buck. A city like Boulder, with concerns about growth and affordability, would be well advised to focus on denser housing projects that take less space and can serve more residents. The question is will other residents support such projects in their neighborhoods?

The City Council will continue to discuss this topic at their March 29 meeting. In the meantime, BBC asked for more information on strategies used by other high-cost communities.

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