It’s hard to imagine anything good coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, if we’re going to count our silver linings, let’s take a look at the culture of remote work. This isn’t necessarily new; freelancers and contract workers and even full-time employees of forward-thinking companies were working from home some or all of the time before the pandemic arrived. But, once the virus took hold, remote work became less of a luxury and more of a necessity.
And, it seems like for most people – remote work is here to stay.
Some companies are bringing employees back to the office but others are seeing the value in keeping overhead low and maintaining a productive, happy remote workforce.
If you’re wondering what this means for the Colorado Springs housing market – it means only good things.
In fact, RENTCafé, a nationwide internet listing service that enables renters to find housing across the country, listed Colorado Springs as the second-best market for remote workers. The way they rated destinations as desirable remote working locations came down to:
- Number of coronavirus infection rates
- Population size
- Wi-Fi access and internet speed
- Cost of living
- Lease availability
- Google search volumes
Remote working has a positive impact on the Colorado Springs housing market because the availability of working from anywhere is drawing people to the region.
Let’s talk about how to leverage this trend and make your Colorado Springs rental properties more attractive to these new tenants who are coming to town.
Where Do Workers Choose to Live?
Before remote working became necessary and popular, well-trained workers tended to gravitate towards the cities that had the most opportunity in terms of industry, jobs, and promise. New York, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago…these were the places to be.
Now, they can choose where to live. And it doesn’t have to be in an expensive city with lots of traffic and other headaches.
Mid-tier cities, also called second-tier cities, are benefitting the most. How do we define them? According to experts, they can be loosely defined as cities with fewer than a million people. They aren’t going to be the cities that dominate a region, like Seattle or Atlanta, or even Denver. Instead, they’re smaller cities that still have everything people love about living in a city. That includes art, culture, walkability, entertainment, and good food. Nature and recreation also helps.
These mid-tier cities provide more than a lower cost of living and higher quality of life. They offer a lifestyle that’s easier to access. The urban vibe still exists, but within a smaller and more present community that feels like a neighborhood.
Colorado Springs was well-positioned to benefit from people preferring to live in this type of city even before remote work began to impact housing markets. Between 2010 and 2015, the population in Colorado Springs grew by more than 10 percent. Flexibility with jobs is only pushing more population growth in this direction.
The pandemic and its preference for remote work only accelerated the trend of migration that was likely inevitable anyway. People were already choosing more affordable areas instead of pricey city centers whenever they could.
What about when and if employees are required to return to work in person?
Well, one of three things may happen:
- They may negotiate with their employers to continue working remotely.
- They may quit a job that won’t allow them to keep the flexibility they’ve grown to appreciate.
- Even if they return to work at offices in larger cities, they might be willing to take on a longer commute in order to stay where they are. For example, someone living in Baltimore will commute to Washington, D.C. or someone living in Colorado Springs will commute into Denver.
It’s hard to take away something that employees have grown to appreciate about their jobs. With the employment market wide open and good jobs available, employers are going to need to listen to their team members and provide the perks and benefits that retain them. Remote work is one of those benefits.
How Can Your Colorado Springs Rental Property Benefit?
This is good news for Colorado Springs rental property owners. If you have a well-maintained property to rent out in a good location, you’ll likely find a reliable pool of tenants waiting to rent it. You can count on higher rental prices than you may have charged a year or two ago.
As Colorado Springs property management experts, we’ve been thinking about how to best position your property to attract these remote workers. Here are some of the things we recommend, based on what they’re looking for in a rental home.
Make Your Rental Home Friendly to Tech-Savvy Professionals
Your remote working tenants will need strong internet, and a dedicated workspace will also be a huge advantage. A den, an office space, even a large and open floor plan that can accommodate a desk or two will be attractive to the renters who have chosen to live and work from Colorado Springs. You might leave it up to your tenants to choose their own internet providers, but be prepared to make some recommendations on which local providers offer the best packages and the strongest speeds. If you really want to stand out, consider including Wi-Fi in the rent, at least for the first three or six months. This will get the attention of tenants who will need to start working as soon as they move in.
There’s additional technology you can offer. Smart home tech is becoming more and more popular, and remote workers looking for a new home will appreciate technology upgrades such as video doorbells, digital keys, and the ability to sync thermostats, appliances, and security devices to their phones via an app.
Parking and Pets
If your future tenants are coming from a larger city where it was basically impossible to have a car, they likely didn’t think about things like parking. Now that they’re in Colorado Springs, they’ll probably have a car. Make sure you’re offering secure, attractive parking. In a single-family home, that might mean a garage or a well-maintained driveway. If you’re renting out a condo or a townhouse without assigned parking, make sure there’s ample available in a lot or a garage.
Pet-friendly rental homes are always easier to rent out. People love their pets and they’re not going to choose to rent a property that forbids them. Remote workers have pets. The term “pandemic pet” refers to people who adopted a dog or a cat during the worst of the pandemic when they might have felt lonely and isolated while spending so much time at home. Not only is there an increase in pet ownership, those who already had pets have become more attached to them since working from home.
You’ll want to make it easy for your tenants to nurture their furry family members.
Keep Your Colorado Springs Rental Value Competitive
There’s a huge opportunity to earn high rents from the remote workers who are flooding the Colorado Springs rental market. But, don’t push the envelope too far when it comes to setting a rental price. The demand is high, so you can comfortably price your property at the top of whatever range fits your particular home, but stay as competitive as you can. Even an extra week of vacancy can have a depressing impact on your ROI. Get a well-qualified tenant into your home quickly, and then work hard to retain them.
Access good data so you know exactly what you should be charging for your property. Take a look at what similar properties have been rented for in your neighborhood. Market all the things that set your property apart from the others.
Consider Short Term Leases for Colorado Springs Rental Homes
The remote working culture has allowed people to relocate permanently. Some of them, however, are choosing a more nomadic existence. They might not be interested in signing a one-year lease. They might prefer to move around a lot, at least until they find a place where they want to settle. You may have a tenant who is in Colorado Springs for four months and then Santa Fe or Houston for the following months. Maybe they’ll spend half the year in the mountains and the other half the year at the beach.
Think about how flexible you’re willing to be with your lease terms. Consider offering a furnished rental. This will not work for everyone, especially if you are focused on long-term, unfurnished rentals. But, it’s something to consider if you want to attract a larger pool of potential tenants and you’re willing to take on the extra work, maintenance, cleaning, and marketing that’s required in a shorter rental term.
The Colorado Springs housing market is strong. If you own a rental property here or you’re thinking about investing in one, you’re going to benefit from the trend of remote working. We’d be happy to help you plan for it and leverage the properties you currently have in your portfolio. Please contact us at Muldoon Associates for more information.