Rent rising in metro Denver as vacancies fall

Apartment rents in the Denver metropolitan area have hit an all-time high, according to a report released Monday.

Apartment rents in the Denver metropolitan area have hit an all-time high, according to a report released Monday.

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DENVER — Thousands of apartment renters across the Denver area are getting the news that their next rent check will cost a little more.

According to the Apartment Association of Metro Denver and the Colorado Division of Housing, the average rent in the metro area rose to $952 in first quarter of this year from last year’s first quarter average of $911.

It’s really just a matter of supply and demand. There are far fewer vacancies available and far more people looking to rent. And that means landlords can charge a lot more for their properties.

Judson Newmyer is in the highest demand group for rental properties in Denver:  Young professionals who want a small apartment near work.

“It took me about three months to find a place,” Newmyer said. “If you do your research, I don’t think it’s that difficult. It just depends what your price range is and what you’re willing to pay.”

But “paying” has become a lot more expensive.

“It’s the new renter nation,” said Nancy Burke, vice president of government affairs with the Colorado Apartment Association.

Renters in Colorado are seeing the highest jump in prices and the lowest number of vacancies in more than a decade.

It’s happening in an economic environment where credit is tighter, the housing market is struggling and there are fewer jobs.

“A lot of folks want that flexibility. They want to rent,” said Burke. “So in case they get that job in a different market they can move.”

But rental prices are expected to keep climbing because far more units are in demand than are becoming available on the market.

The average rent has jumped nearly seven percent in Denver and Boulder in the last year alone.

“You’re going to see more people move down from the “A” properties to the “B” properties,” said Dr. Ron Throupe, a professor of real estate and construction at the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business. “Just because they can’t afford to stay in the ‘A’s.’”

Renters are also competing with an increased demand from people moving to Colorado from the east and west coasts.

“Those rental markets are tighter and more expensive than here and so this is a real good value for them,” said Jason Busboom, who owns 600 rental units around Denver.

“You get a whole lot for your money compared to California and some of the coastal areas and a lot of people are moving here and working to find jobs here,” Busboom said.

That fact should help boost local economies.

“There’s a lot of units out there, you just need to shop around,” said Burke.

Renters should be ready to pay more for less space for the foreseeable future.

“We don’t see this ending right now. We’re going to see it continue,” said Dr. Throupe.

To get the best rent, experts recommend trying to negotiate with your landlord, especially if you’ve been a reliable tenant who pays on time.

If the rent is going up, ask if you can get a break on at least part of that increase.

The most expensive average rent right now is in Douglas County, Boulder and Broomfield. The least expensive, by only $100 or so, is in Jefferson and Adams counties.

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