Grand Junction vacancy rate at 7.7 percent this summer

“FOR RENT” SIGNS are placed on 10th Street and Grand Avenue in Grand Junction. Vacancy rates in the third quarter rose to 7.7 percent after spending the first half of the year at 6.3 percent.

After decreasing or remaining flat quarter-to-quarter for a year-and-a-half, Grand Junction’s rental vacancy rate increased to 7.7 percent in the third quarter of 2011, according to the Colorado Division of Housing.

Grand Junction’s vacancy rate spent all of 2006, 2007 and 2008 under 4 percent before gradually ticking up in 2009. The local rate reached a high of 13.2 percent in the final quarter of 2009 before beginning a descent that leveled in the second quarter of 2011, when 6.3 percent of local homes, condominiums, town homes and apartments for rent were vacant. The rate was 6.3 percent in the first quarter of 2011 as well.

More vacancies didn’t translate to lower rents. The average monthly rent in Grand Junction increased $24.47 in the third quarter compared to the second quarter. The average monthly rent in Grand Junction remained flat year-over-year at $655.58 in the third quarter.

Cindy Hoppe, a property manager for Bray Property Management, said many landlords still are willing to haggle on rent prices, but only to a certain extent.

“At 13 percent vacancy, the owners were making big deals, but not at 7.7 percent,” she said.

Hoppe said more rentals are coming onto the market this year, in particular from homeowners who decided to take their homes off the real estate market until sale prices increase. That means greater variety for renters, and landlords still have a reason to keep rent prices at competitive levels.

Hoppe said landlords may be willing to shave $15 or $20 a month off a rental price to ensure a property has a tenant. But with landlords already absorbing some of the maintenance and property tax costs on some rentals, there is a limit to their generosity.

“Residents are a little more savvy in asking for concessions (on rent), where they didn’t used to do that,” Hoppe said. “If they ask for that $50 to $100 (off), that’s not going to happen.”

Hoppe said she expects the fourth quarter’s vacancy rate to be similar to the third quarter. The rate could decline in future quarters, she said, if home-sale prices increase and some rentals are sold to permanent tenants.

The vacancy rate could increase or stay flat in the future with new construction, according to Colorado Division of Housing spokesman Ryan McMaken. He said 90 percent of multifamily housing permits awarded this year in Colorado came from Denver, El Paso, Larimer and Mesa counties. Of the 1,992 multifamily permits granted so far this year in those counties, 3 percent were awarded in Mesa County.

“It’s the only county on the Western Slope with any new multifamily housing activity,” McMaken said.

Eighteen of 22 Colorado metropolitan areas saw a decline in vacancy rates year-over-year, including Grand Junction. The three areas that experienced a rate increase year-over-year were Montrose, Durango and Canon City. Glenwood Springs’ vacancy rate remained flat.


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