No rent relief during recession

Anyone renting an apartment in the Grand Valley knows rents are high and apartments are rare.

Experts say that’s not going to change much, despite the depressed economy.

“I don’t think in Grand Junction you are going to see any rents going down,” said Gordon Von Stroh, a professor at the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business. He compiles data for the state to calculate vacancy rates.

“But you are not going to have the tightness you were (experiencing) a year ago,” he said.

“The key thing is what about tomorrow? ... I don’t see a quick turnaround.”

The tightness he speaks of is the availability of apartments for rent, otherwise known as the apartment vacancy rate. The rate is beginning to creep up from the oppressive 2.4 percent where it has hovered for the past year in Grand Junction.

“It is still not a healthy market at 2.4 percent,” said Lori Rosendahl, director of operations for the Grand Junction Housing Authority. The authority provides housing assistance to
low-income families.

“I am still not seeing the rents come down to where they were two years ago by any means,” Rosendahl said. “As long as the demand is there, and we stay at the vacancy rate we are in, I don’t see the rents coming down.”

Layoffs, primarily in the local energy sector, but also in construction and other areas, are starting to affect landlords, though not rents.

“A lot of our tenants have been working out in the patches and are not working now, so they are struggling to make ends meet,” said Jane Clevinger, a broker for Landmark Real Estate.

Clevinger said she has seen tenants sell off their “toys” — motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and such — just to make rent. She has had to work with tenants to defer rent until they can secure new employment.

Apartments stay on the market much longer, Clevinger said. It used to be common for apartments to be emptied and rented out again in a week.

“Until we get these people back to work somewhere, whether it be in the patches or some different job market, we are going to see a slowdown,” she said.

Other rental complexes say they are not seeing any effect from the economy.

“Actually our business really hasn’t changed,” said the property and maintenance manager of the Northwoods Apartments, 3505 N. 12th Street. He asked that his name not be printed. Most of the tenants of Northwoods are not employed by the energy industry, and that might be why it has low turnover, he said.


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