Slim pickings in the rental market

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Huge snows this year have made Steamboat Springs an especially popular destination, but that isn't the only reason for a tough rental market.

Interest rates also could be playing a factor.

"It's been pretty slim, from what I've seen," rental manager Shannon Peterson said about this winter's rental market. Peterson is with Big Country Residential Housing. She said it wasn't that way a couple of years ago.

"With interest rates as low as they were, a lot of people who were renting indicated they were able to buy," Peterson said.

But rising interest rates could be forcing more people into the rental market, and a lack of units has become apparent this season.

"If I could get them to build more, I would," said Peterson, who oversees rentals for 120 one- and two-bedroom units at the Ponds. She also oversees rentals of 53 other properties the company manages.

"Even as of this week, I have 170 of 173 rented," she said.

Some of the rentals are short-term seasonal leases reserved for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. managers. She said that for the summer, many of the rentals are reserved for construction and landscape workers.

"We don't really have a slow season any more," Peterson said. "I've had to turn other businesses away this winter."

This has left many people scrambling for places to live, she said.

Ray Kulas said Mountain Village Apartments had to offer holiday discounts to fill five of the 120 units they rent on a one-year lease. Now, he only has income-restricted apartments available, and some people are pre-signing leases while they wait for residents to move out.

Mountain Village Apart-ments is at 90 percent capacity, but Kulas said finding renters for the income-restricted apartments has been difficult.

"That's where I am running into problems," Kulas said. "We were hoping we would get an increase on the maximum income, but we didn't this year."

Kulas said that until this year, the rental market has been slow for the past four years. He also credits rising interest rates for the number of people renting instead of buying.

"One year I probably lost 24 units because of people buying homes," Kulas said.

-- To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210 or e-mail mstensland@steamboatpilot.com

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