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Sell or rebuild? Marshall Fire victims struggle with how to move forward

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Posted at 9:57 PM, Jan 26, 2022

SUPERIOR, Colo. — Almost one month after the Marshall Fire tore through Boulder County, victims are now faced with a looming question- do they sell their land, which for many is now a charred lot, or wait and rebuild?

"I've lost everything, and it's going to be four or five months before they do a clean up let alone," said Jeff Borg, whose home and workshop were destroyed in the fire. "I have got to build a house with only so much money from the insurance. That is not going to cut it. I don't know what to do."

Borg says he has been offered little in assistance. He believes he will lose more than $1 million in value from his home and belongings.

Borg, like many of the Marshall Fire victims, was severely underinsured. With land values at record highs, supplies in high demand, workers in short supply and new regulations coming online, building in Boulder County will be an uphill battle.

"I think for most homeowners, it's going to be at least two years before we start seeing some real structures coming to fruition," said Laura Shaffer, a realtor in Boulder County. "I do have hope that we are going to be able to streamline some of this building process, and this is in working with the city and the county."

Shaffer estimates as many as 80% of homeowners are underinsured.

Some residents have decided to cut their losses and sell. One Zillow listing posted this week features a lot in Superior with an asking price of $350,000, nearly half of the previous value listed on the website.

Shaffer says homeowners who want to sell should at least wait until the FEMA cleanups are complete in the next few weeks.

"I think once we have determined what the cleanup will look like, then our lots are going to start to look more like a normal," she said. "It is to be determined what these values are, and I think right now for a fire victim, it is really hard to start assessing that value at this very moment."

Shaffer says the lots still retain several valuable assets, like their views and their proximity to the Front Range. But she says it will be difficult to asses the full value of the homes until they are cleared.