GJ apartment vacancy rate, rent on the rise

Grand Junction’s apartment vacancy rate has climbed to its highest level in more than three years, but most apartment seekers are still finding a tight housing market and paying a premium price for a unit.

A report released Wednesday by the Colorado Division of Housing showed the vacancy rate for the area was 4 percent in the first three months of 2009, likely a product of the downturn in the economy.

That’s more than double the 1.8 percent rate for the first quarter of 2008 and the highest rate since 5.4 percent in 2005.

Industry officials attributed much of the increase to a softening of the upper-end of the market.

Cindy Hoppe, property manager with Bray Real Estate, said more multifamily units renting for $1,000 or more came open. The market for apartments priced below $1,000 remains slim.

“Even with a 4 percent vacancy rate, it’s still a very competitive situation,” said Gordon Von Stroh, a business professor at the University of Denver who researched and wrote the report.

And even though more units have become available, rent hasn’t gone down correspondingly.

The average rent from the first quarter of last year to this year inched up 2 percent, from $666.22 to $680.35.

“I didn’t expect to see that,” Hoppe said.

She said she doesn’t anticipate rent to decline this year. If it increases, she said, it won’t be substantially.


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