“Our trajectory is troubling” Breckenridge caps short term rentals, Guide to STR regulations in CO mountain towns
Breckenridge currently has about 4k short term rentals. At a council meeting last week, legislation…
Property taxes on short-term rental properties in Colorado would more than triple under a bill drafted by state lawmakers that comes as communities from Durango to Denver grapple with surging numbers of vacation rentals. What is in the new proposal? How will this impact property owners throughout Colorado?
The proposal would tax vacation homes like hotels and motels, which are subject to a higher assessment, on the days they are being rented and deliver the extra revenue to public schools, fire departments, libraries and other districts that rely on property taxes. State Sen. Chris Hansen, a Denver Democrat who sits on the powerful Joint Budget Committee and is leading the push for the legislation, said the idea is to boost revenue for local communities.
“There’s a really strong need for us to stabilize our property tax system and increase our local share,” said Hansen, referring to the rising education funding burden on the state budget. “If this is something we don’t get ahead of, it’s going to spiral out of control for the state”.
Here are some highlights of the bill as it is written today
How the bill is currently rented will be challenging for assessors to track and calculate when a property is taxed at residential vs commercial. Assessors do not track nightly rentals as many are not licensed, take Steamboat for example, only properties not in the mountain area need to be licensed. This equates to about 200 licensed properties in Steamboat out of about 3k total nightly rentals. Tracking and enforcing the nightly rental tax is going to be a nightmare for assessors.
I’d handicap this bill at 60/40 with a 60% plus chance of passing. The bill is being pitched to help target the continuing funding issues of schools and local governments. There will be some intense lobbying by the realtor’s association and nightly rental companies.
Furthermore, I assume that some big changes will be made as this bill progresses especially regarding which properties are classified as nightly rentals and how assessors will enforce the new law to appropriately tax them.
Regardless of the status of this bill, the tide has changed on nightly rentals. Voters in Avon, Crested Butte, Leadville, and Ouray will consider ballot questions that increase taxes on short-term rentals. Telluride voters have two ballot questions that impose caps on vacation rentals. Councils and commissioners in several other communities have stalled or capped the flow of permits for vacation homes.
If you were buying a property with the intent of renting it heavily, higher taxes and prospective moratoriums are huge. Furthermore, some owners that rely on nightly rental for their mortgage payments or retirement will feel these changes the most.
Fortunately to the entire real estate market, the changes to nightly rentals will have no impact on values. Many of the newcomers to the mountains are not buying for investment purposes but for personal use. Furthermore, most purchasing in areas with lots of nightly rentals (Steamboat, Vail, Aspen, etc…) are wither using very little leverage or buying in cash. I’ve seen statistics throughout the mountains, depending on the location that between 40% and 70% of the transactions are cash transactions. People buying with little, or no leverage have the ability to not rent the property.
In Breckenridge, Vail, Aspen, Steamboat, Crested Butte, etc.., and other ski towns there is zero available inventory and considerable pent-up demand which will lead to zero impact on real estate prices or sales.
Long and short nightly rentals are in the cross hairs as their impacts are felt by more locals. As a result, radical changes are coming down the pipe from the statehouse and local governments. The biggest themes are increased taxes, capping the number of nightly rentals, and prohibiting nightly rentals in certain property types and locations. Although I can’t say with certainty which particular bill/measure will pass, with this much momentum one or many of these initiatives is likely to pass.
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Written by Glen Weinberg, COO/ VP Fairview Commercial Lending. Glen has been published as an expert in hard money lending, real estate valuation, financing, and various other real estate topics in Bloomberg, Businessweek ,the Colorado Real Estate Journal, National Association of Realtors Magazine, The Real Deal real estate news, the CO Biz Magazine, The Denver Post, The Scotsman mortgage broker guide, Mortgage Professional America and various other national publications.
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