Finding an apartment is tough

It’s harder and more expensive to rent an apartment in metro Denver than it was a year ago, even though new complexes are popping up all over the region, according to a report released Thursday.

The vacancy rate in six metro areas across Colorado dropped to 4.9 percent during the second quarter — the lowest since the first quarter of 2001, when it was 4.3 percent, according to the report by the Colorado Division of Housing. The vacancy rate was 5.2 percent during the second quarter last year.

Rents have increased with the demand for rentals, rising to an all-time high of $942. That’s up 7.4 percent from the same period a year ago, when average rents stood at $877.

“In spite of some relatively week job growth in some metros, household formation continues in Colorado and people are looking to rent apartments,” said Ron Throupe, a professor of real estate at the University of Denver’s Burns School of Real Estate and Construction Management. “In those areas with the most job growth, like Larimer County, the apartment market has become very tight.”

Vacancy rates in the six metro areas tracked are: Colorado Springs, 6 percent; Fort Collins/Loveland, 3.5 percent; Grand Junction, 5.5 percent; Greeley, 5.4 percent and Pueblo, 4.3 percent. The metro Denver vacancy rate, released last month in a separate survey, was flat year-over-year at 4.8 percent.

Average rents for the metro areas are: Colorado Springs, $776; Fort Collins/Loveland, $996; Grand Junction, $674; Greeley, $662; and Pueblo, $602. The average metro Denver rent was $992 during the second quarter.

“We’re now seeing signs of the kind of general rent growth across all metros that we haven’t seen since 2008,” said Ryan McMaken, spokesman for the Colorado Division of Housing. “Limited supply is an issue. New units are on the way, but there’s a lag on that and some metros aren’t seeing much new construction at all.”