Cody Realtor Says “Embrace The Changes That Are Coming”
Written by Wyatt Burichka on July 12, 2021
While looking at the ongoing effects of staff shortages in Cody, there are several causes – and housing might be a big one that isn’t going anywhere.
Cody, Wyoming is experiencing a shortage of staff in the Summer of 2021. Restaurants are forced to close for a couple of days a week, while hotels are raising prices for increasingly in-demand rooms.
Housing is something people are struggling to acquire in the City of Cody. Scott Richard, the owner and broker of Richard Reality in Cody, has some insight into what he is seeing happen in the housing market.
“You have construction costs that went through the roof. Lumber, materials, and everything went up. Construction costs are astronomically high at the moment. It makes it more affordable to buy a home that was pre-built already,” Richards said. “In that aspect, when you compare a new home versus one that was built, you can raise the price of the one that’s existing and still be lower than the new construction.”
Richard says this is difficult because appraisals are not matching the amounts people are paying for the actual home.
“I believe it’s an issue and Cody, just simply because it keeps climbing appraisals aren’t meeting up with what people are paying for houses. And it’s getting harder and harder for people that might have been on that bubble, especially locals to be able to purchase that home.”
Richard points out that the estimated growth in the cost of a home has gone up to 15-20% in two years – for example, a median cost of about $320,000 two years ago goes for $375,000 today.
Richard says that affordable housing is an issue in Cody due to the lack of high-paying jobs in the community.
“Affordable housing has always been an issue. I’ve been a part of several different committees and different things involved on a local level, the state level, and looked at that fact. To be quite honest, what it boiled back down to was, there’s a lack of jobs here that are high paying jobs for people to afford it,” Richard says. “When you look at the service industry, if people are paying 1000 to 1500 bucks a month, and they’re living in Cody, they might be able to move somewhere else make the same amount of money if they’re waitressing, or bartending, and the rents way less. It is an issue.”
Tina Hoebelheinrich, Executive Director of the Cody Country Chamber of Commerce, agrees. While many point to other factors as a primary cause driving staff shortages in 2021, Hoebelheinrich says a lack of affordable housing is a persistent problem, now and in the future.
Richard doesn’t pick and choose why businesses are struggling to find workers – he knows housing. His company has a minimal stake in the rental industry but does do with property management.
“I don’t have an opinion on (staff shortages,) but I can tell you housing is hard for them,” Richard says. “The last rental that we put out on the market – in 30 minutes of posting it on the Classifieds we had 20 different people wanting to apply to rent the property. Supply and demand, it’s just going to continue to climb, unfortunately.”
In a article published by the Cody Enterprise, people currently are paying more for a house than its actual cost.
According to the article, people area paying upwards of 8-12.5% more than the value of the house.
“We’re seeing people that are retiring and moving here. We’re seeing people that are trying to downsize and stay here. We’re seeing people that are buying vacation homes here,” Richard says. “We’re seeing investors trying to purchase properties here. So that trifecta, that group of people is basically driving our market. They have the cash, they’re retired, they’re buying a second home, or they’re investing.”
But why move to Cody in the first place?
Richard suggests that the interest in Cody comes down to a desire for a simpler life. The region may be modernizing, but at a slower pace than the rest of the nation.
“They look for communities in different places that fit their values and their lifestyles. And that is a large reason why people are moving to Cody is they like what we have to offer. One of the things about Cody that hopefully stays this way is we’re about 15 to 20 years behind time the rest of the world. But at the same time, we have all the modern amenities and things like that,” Richard says. “We don’t have chain restaurants, we don’t have big corporate buildings. People like that way of life. You can walk down the street, people smile and wave at you. They don’t turn their head and look the other way. And that quality of life is what people are looking for.”
There is another major factor driving consumers to Cody: COVID-19.
“When COVID hit, everybody was at home. And what do they do they get online, they get on the internet, they started looking, okay. When they started looking, they realized, Hey, I’m stuck at home, this isn’t where I want to be, I have an opportunity. Maybe I can live somewhere else,” Richard said.
While people are moving here, the housing market is struggling as Realtors deal with the supply and demand issue – and we should embrace the change.
“To be honest, the market is actually not a very good thing for real estate right now. The reason I say that is because we have very low inventory, and a lot of buyers. I think the biggest thing that’s important to this topic is for people to embrace the changes that are coming. Because we’re going to continue to grow,” Richard said.
(This is part of a series covering unemployment issues for Cody during Summer 2021. You can the last article about this topic below)