Denver rents at all-time high

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DENVER -- There is bad news for renters in the Denver Metro area. A report released Monday shows rentals are at an all-time high for the start of the year.

According to the report by the Apartment Association of Metro Denver and the Colorado Division of Housing, the top three most expensive counties in the metro area are Douglas County, with an average monthly rent of $1,186. Boulder/Broomfield comes in just below that at $1,150. And Denver wraps up the top three at $1,009.

Ryan McMaken is an economist for the Colorado Division of Housing, and says the latest spike in rent comes down to supply and demand. “Demand just continues to be significant here, and they're really not building that much in the big scheme of things."

McMaken says the metro area has seen an average rent increase of 4.2 percent from this time last year, while the vacancy rate is at 4.6 percent, a .3 percent drop off.

Even with the construction of new apartments in downtown Denver, McMaken says it won’t be enough to really offset demand, and rent prices.

“Yes, the number of new units has increased over 100 percent, easily, in the last couple of years.” But McMaken says, “If we look at the total numbers there, it's just not really that much compared to how many units we have, and how many households are being formed."

Patrick Lane and his roommate have lived in the trendy Riverfront Park neighborhood for the past year, and says their rent is about to go up $400. “It looks like buying is the smarter option… We could get a half million dollar house for what we pay in rent here so, it's ridiculous."

As far as negotiating with a leasing office, McMaken says many buildings are run by corporations who have computers determine rent, so, “There's not a whole lot you'll be able to do in terms of keeping your rent from going up.”

But he says there is hope if you’re working with a landlord. “It's going to be more dependent on a personal relationship, and you may be able to work out something there."

When it comes to rental homes in the metro area, the vacancy rate is about half that of apartments, at roughly 2-3 percent. McMaken says it’s simply because apartments are being built faster than homes, after the housing crisis in 2008-2009.

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