Thursday, May 20, 2010

Colorado apartment vacancies fall, rents stable

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The Colorado statewide apartment vacancy rate for 2010’s first quarter decreased to 6.6 percent, falling from 2009’s first quarter rate of 8.5 percent. According to a report released Thursday by the Department of Local Affairs’ Division of Housing, the statewide decline in vacancies was driven by declines in vacancies in Grand Junction, metro Denver, Colorado Springs and along the eastern plains. Fort Collins and Pueblo were the only metropolitan areas reporting higher vacancies, year-over-year.

Numerous mountain areas also reported vacancy rate increases from the first quarter of last year to the same period this year, including Aspen, Durango, Eagle County, Glenwood Springs, Steamboat Springs and Summit County.

Vacancy rates in all metropolitan areas were Colorado Springs, 6.9 percent; Ft. Collins/Loveland, 4.9 percent; Grand Junction, 11.6 percent; Greeley, 6.9 percent; Pueblo, 12.6 percent.

The metro Denver vacancy rate, measured in a separate survey, was 6.5 percent for the first quarter.

The first quarter’s statewide average rent fell from $844 during 2009’s first quarter to $840 during the first quarter of this year. Among metropolitan areas, average rents fell year-over-year in Fort Collins, Grand Junction and the metro Denver area, but were up in Colorado Springs, Greeley and Pueblo. Average rents rose year-over-year in several mountain areas including Aspen, Alamosa, Buena Vista, Eagle County, Glenwood Springs and Summit County.

“The statewide average rent fell slightly, but we see a lot of smaller markets with rising rents, and given the overall drop in vacancies over the last year, a slow movement upward for rents seems likely,” said Ryan McMaken, a spokesperson for the Division of Housing. “Fort Collins and Grand Junction are the only large markets where rents have fallen by more than a few dollars over the last year.”

The average rent in Fort Collins fell from $854 during the first quarter of last year to $837 during the first quarter of this year. In Grand Junction, where vacancies hit 13.3 percent during 2009’s fourth quarter, first quarter average rents fell from $680 to $663, year-over-year.

“The cost of operating rental units continues to increase, so there is upward pressure on rents driven by costs,” said Gordon von Stroh, a professor of business at the University of Denver, and the report author. “But the employment and wage situation is putting downward pressure on rents, so we’re not seeing many big changes right now.”

Average rents in all metropolitan areas measured were Colorado Springs, $709.99, Ft. Collins/Loveland, $837.99; Grand Junction, $663.47; Greeley, $660.86; Pueblo, $547.03.

The metro Denver average rent, measured in a separate survey, was $877.16 for the first quarter.