Survey: Grand Junction rental vacancies rise

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Cindy Hoppe

Apartment vacancy rates in Grand Junction more than doubled during the fourth quarter of 2012 as winter weather discouraged potential tenants from looking for housing. But rental activity is expected to rebound with the coming spring.

According to the latest results of a survey conducted for the Colorado Division of Housing, the average apartment vacancy rate for the Grand Junction market jumped to 9.7 percent for the fourth quarter of 2012.

The latest rate constitutes a nearly six-point jump from the 3.8 percent vacancy rate reported for the third quarter of 2012, but came in lower than the 10.4 percent rate reported for the first quarter of last year. A vacancy rate of 5 percent is considered an equilibrium between supply and demand.

Cindy Hoppe, manager of Bray Property Management in Grand Junction, said she believes the 9.7 percent apartment vacancy rate reported for the fourth quarter is higher than what actually occurred.

Hoppe also acknowledged, though, that rental activity was slower than what’s usually experienced for an already slow time of year.

“The winter has impacted us way more than I’ve ever seen it do.”

Prolonged cold and snow discouraged potential tenants from looking for housing, Hoppe said. “People just kind of hibernated.”

According to the survey results, apartment vacancy rates during the fourth quarter of 2012 ranged from 8.1 percent for two-bedroom and one-bathroom units to 19.5 percent for two-bedroom units with two bathrooms. Vacancy rates also varied by the size of the apartment building — from 6.3 percent for small buildings with two to eight units to 11.1 percent for large buildings with 100 to 199 units.

Despite the sharply higher average vacancy rate reported for the fourth quarter, the average monthly rent for the Grand Junction market actually increased more than $20 from the third quarter to $659.02. The average monthly rent was higher at $674.78 during the second quarter of 2012.

Hoppe also disputed the latest survey results for rents. “We’re not increasing rents right now.”

According to the survey results, average monthly rents ranged from $534.22 for a one-bedroom apartment to $926.90 for a three-bedroom unit.

Hoppe said the fourth and first quarters tend to be the slowest of the year for rental activity because of the holidays and winter weather.

She expects activity to pick up during the busier second and third quarters, when the weather warms and schools let out for the summer.

 

Phil Castle is editor of the Grand Valley Business Times, a twice-monthly business journal published in Grand Junction. Castle brings to his duties nearly 30 years of experience in editorial management positions with Western Colorado newspapers. In addition, his free-lance work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor's degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University.
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