Thursday, February 25, 2010

Single-family rental vacancies hit three-year high, rents rise

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Vacancies in for-rent condos, single-family homes, and other small properties across metro Denver rose to a three-year high of 5.5 percent during 2009’s fourth quarter. The vacancy rate was 4.9 percent during the fourth quarter of 2008. The last time the metro-wide vacancy rate reached 5.5 percent was during 2006’s fourth quarter, when vacancies were also at 5.5 percent.

According to a report released Thursday by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs’ Division of Housing, the number of days on the market for single-family rentals and similar properties increased from 45 days during the fourth quarter of 2008 to 53 days during the fourth quarter of 2009. Detached single-family rentals in particular faced a two-year high of 62 days.

“There is no one economic factor behind the increase, but some of the people that had been in single-family have purchased homes to take advantage of the tax credit,” said Gordon Von Stroh, Professor of business at the University of Denver, and the report’s author. “But the unemployment rate remains above last year’s rates, and that will tend to keep vacancies up.”

The metro-wide jump in vacancies in single-family rentals and similar properties was driven by increasing vacancies in Denver County and Arapahoe County where vacancy rates were at 6.8 percent and 5.7 percent respectively. Vacancy rates fell in Adams County and Douglas County. Rates were flat in Jefferson County and in the Boulder/Broomfield area.

Vacancy rates for all counties surveyed were: Adams, 4.1 percent; Arapahoe, 5.7 percent; Boulder/Broomfield, 3.8 percent; Denver, 6.8 percent; Douglas, 3.0 percent; and Jefferson, 4.7 percent.

In spite of rising vacancy rates, average rents continued to climb.

The average rent for single-family and similar properties rose to $1016.77 during 2009’s fourth quarter, rising from 2008’s fourth quarter rate of $995.24. 2009’s fourth quarter’s average rent is the highest average rent yet recorded for the fourth quarter.

“The fact that average rents continue to rise shows that renter demand for these properties remains relatively high in spite of a soft overall rental market and poor job growth,” said Ryan McMaken, a spokesperson for the Colorado Division of housing. “Owners can afford to raise rents a little since many people still prefer the roominess of a single-family home to an apartment, but today, fewer people view buying a single-family home as the fail-safe purchase that they once did.”

Average rents for all counties were: Adams, $1024.79; Arapahoe, $995.23; Boulder/Broomfield, $1631.30; Denver, $952.27; Douglas, $1372.91; and Jefferson, $974.90.

The Colorado Statewide Vacancy and Rent Study is released each quarter by the Colorado Division of Housing. The Report is available online at the Division of Housing web site:
The Colorado Vacancy and Rent Survey reports averages and, as a result, there are often differences in rental and vacancy rates by size, location, age of building, and apartment type.