DENVER (KDVR) — Upcoming construction projects should take some pressure off Denver area renters this year.

Rent in the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood area spiked to one of the nation’s most expensive in 2021 and 2022. Prices have been falling lately, however, and the new apartments may deepen a yearlong trend of emptier apartment buildings.

Denver area apartment vacancies have been rising for well over a year through February 2023, along with national rates, but that has not yet translated into substantially lower rent prices.

The market is dealing with distortions sparked by the COVID pandemic. Shortly after the COVID pandemic began, the Denver area vacancy rates plummeted by nearly half. Renters across the country were forming new households – swapping a roommate situation for a lone apartment.

From July 2020 through September 2021, the Denver area vacancy rate fell from just under 8% to 4.62%, according to Apartment List data. Denver’s rental housing crunch was an intensified version of the national situation. At the same time, national vacancy rates fell from 7.24% to 4.06%.

Since fall 2021, apartments have gotten emptier. The Denver metro’s vacancy rate rose every single month, reaching 6.45% in February.

Rents have gotten cheaper as vacancies rose.

Denver area rent spiked nearly $300 a month as vacancy rates fell into the fall of 2021. Nationally, they rose $200. Rent prices ebbed and flowed since then peaking in the summer of 2022. They have fallen since as vacancies kept rising.

There are potentially more vacancies to come this year, as forecasted by RealPage.

The country and Denver are slated to have the biggest delivery of rent-ready apartments in 30 years this year, according to industry analytics firm RealPage. Over half a million units will come onto the market this year, including a majority of the over 27,000 units being constructed in Denver.