Property manager skeptical of apartment survey results

Cindy Hoppe

Phil Castle, The Business Times

While apartment vacancies in Grand Junction rose as they usually do during the first quarter, Cindy Hoppe remains skeptical the increase was as dramatic as what was reported as the latest results of a statewide survey.

“Things were not all rosy. But things were not all that bad, either,” said Hoppe, manager of Bray Property Management in Grand Junction.

According to the results of a survey conducted for the Colorado Division of Housing, the average apartment vacancy rate for the Grand Junction climbed to 11.8 percent during the first quarter of 2013.

That’s more than two points higher than the fourth quarter of 2012 and the highest reading since a vacancy rate of 13.2 percent was reported for the fourth quarter of 2009. A vacancy rate of 5 percent is considered an equilibrium between supply and demand.

The average monthly rent in Grand Junction dropped more than $100 to $554.20 during the first quarter of 2013, the lowest level since the first quarter of 2006.

“I can’t support those numbers,” Hoppe said.

Leasing activity for her firm declined in February and March compared to the same months last year as cold and snowy weather discouraged people from moving, Hoppe said. But the decreases weren’t substantial.

Moreover, rents have held steady, she added.

Rental activity since has increased — as it usually does during the second and third quarters — with warmer weather and schools out of session, she said.

According to survey results, apartment vacancy rates in Grand Junction during the first quarter ranged from 4.2 percent for one-bedroom units to 29.8 percent for two-bedroom and two-bathroom units to 41.2 percent for three-bedroom units.

Average monthly rents ranged from $246 for efficiency apartments to $448.75 for one-bedroom units to $653.29 for apartments with two bedrooms and one bathroom.

Elsewhere on the Western Slope, apartment vacancy rates ranged from less than 1 percent in Aspen to 6.5 percent in Montrose to 23.4 percent in Glenwood Springs.

Across Colorado, apartment vacancy rates ranged from 1.4 percent in Greeley to 5.6 percent in Colorado Springs and 14.9 percent in Pueblo.

The composite rate for the state stood at 4.9 percent in March, up three-tenths of a point from September 2012.