Apartments In The Denver Area Are Filling At A Near Record Pace

October 23, 2019
Construction cranes in downtown Denver Friday Dec. 28, 2018.
Construction cranes in downtown Denver Friday Dec. 28, 2018.
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Construction cranes in downtown Denver Friday Dec. 28, 2018.

Denver renters are filling apartments about as fast as developers can finish them.

The latest data shows renters moved into more than 10,000 new apartment units so far this year, according to data from the Denver Metro Area Apartment Vacancy and Rent Survey.

"Demand for Denver apartments continues to escalate,” said Terrance Hunt, a vice president at apartment investing company Newmark Knight Frank.

The vacancy rate dropped to 4.7 percent, the lowest level since early 2015. But because builders have delivered so much supply to the market, rent prices haven't risen much, up only 2.8 percent over the last 12 months.

“Renters across Metro Denver should once again be encouraged to see average rents leveling off, ” said Mark Williams, vice president of the Apartment Association of Metro Denver

There's a chance rents could rise again — and fast — if construction were to stall while population continued to grow. And there are some signs that at least part of that equation is happening: construction is slowing.

While the rate of new apartment construction is still growing, it was at the lowest level in about three years, according to the apartment survey. And permits for future multifamily construction in Colorado are down 16.4 percent, according to the Census Bureau.

The number of proposed properties is higher than ever, but the actual total number of units currently under construction is down 17 percent from two years ago, Apartment Appraisers & Consultants principal Cary Bruteig said.

That delay in construction is because "costs are rising faster than rents," Bruteig said. That makes it harder for projects to make the profit demanded by investors.

However, Bruteig said this all must be kept in perspective. There are still about 25,000 units under construction metro-wide.

And when it comes to current rent prices, there's a lot of difference depending on the age of the apartment and its location. Average rents for a metro area apartment were $1,506 per month, but rents were as high as $1,981 in Boulder and as low at $1,213 in Wheat Ridge. An apartment built since 2010 is 24 percent more expensive than the metro average.