Rental market tight

But, hey, it's worse in Aspen

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Finding an affordable place to rent this time of year comes down to whom you know and a little bit of luck.

That's according to local property managers as well as a University of Denver business professor who just released a Colorado Division of Housing survey done twice a year on multi-family housing vacancy rates in 21 Colorado communities, including Steamboat Springs.

According to the survey, Steamboat had the highest vacancy rate out of any of the resort communities based on September occupancy.

There were 255 surveys completed by multi-family rental housing owners and management companies in Steamboat.

They reported an average vacancy rate of 8.6 percent, which is the lowest level since February 2002 when the vacancy rate was 4 percent. Statewide, the vacancy rate is 7.2 percent, the lowest it has been since 2001, when it was 6.2 percent. Nightly rental properties were not included in the survey.

The report also surveyed what people were paying in rent and reported it as a price per square foot. That price ranged from 50 cents a square foot in Sterling to $1.46 in Aspen. Rent in Steamboat averaged 90 cents per square foot.

Compared to other towns with resorts, finding a place to rent in Steamboat was easy in September, but that likely has changed since the ski season started.

"The survey was done in September, so I would say things have tightened up since then," said University of Denver professor Gordon Von Stroh, who conducted the survey.

The vacancy rate in Summit County was 7 percent in September, and in Eagle County it was 1.6 percent. The Aspen surveys indicated just a 1 percent vacancy rate, which means there are practically no apartments for rent.

"About the only thing you can do in Aspen is networking," Von Stroh said. "A unit might be available at 9 a.m. and then, by 10 a.m., it's gone."

Two of Steamboat's largest long-term rental property management companies have no units for rent.

"The rental market is tight, and it's going to be that way," said Central Park Management owner Kurt Weiss. "I don't think it's as tight as it's ever been, but it's pretty tight."

His company manages just under 300 units, including the Walton Pond Apartments.

"This is the most difficult time to find something," Weiss said.

Big Country Residential Housing rental manager Shannon Peterson said she was adding names to a waiting list starting Nov. 15. Her company manages 185 long-term rental units including The Ponds.

"Right now, the main thing on people's minds is getting employees housing," Peterson said.

She said that she has noticed the apartment rental market tightening in Steamboat, and occupancy is becoming more consistent year-round.

"There is not the inventory available this winter that there was last winter," Peterson said.

-To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210

or e-mail mstensland@steamboatpilot.com

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