Summit County rental scene little changed as metro markets tank |

Summit County rental scene little changed as metro markets tank

Kathryn Corazzelli
Summit Daily News

While apartment vacancy rates during the second quarter across Colorado’s metro areas dropped to the lowest recorded rate since 2001, Summit County seems to have stayed at its normal level of summer demand, with affordable units trumping all.

It’s been kind of quiet all summer as far as year leases go, said Lisa Prout, director of reservations at Mountain Managers, which manages about 40 long-term rentals in Summit County. The company hasn’t been getting very many responses to ads, which Prout attributes to a lack of solid, year-round jobs and private owners renting out on their own – at much lower rates.

“(Renters) think we’re over-charging, when in fact, private owners are under-charging,” Prout said.

The company has been seeing an influx of requests for six-month rentals lately, which Prout said is normal this time of year. At Summit Resort Group – which manages both short- and long-term rentals in Dillon, Frisco and Keystone – the requests have also been way up lately for seasonal rentals, but second quarter long-term rentals didn’t go quite as fast. The demand is about the same for the same period in past years, Ivana Barrio, long-term rental manager said. They manage about 60 long-term rentals; about 50 are currently booked.

Colorado’s metro area low vacancy rates were noted in a recent report from the Colorado Division of Housing.

Summit County Housing Authority executive director Jennifer Kermode isn’t surprised about the discrepancy between Colorado’s metro areas and Summit.

“Historically, what we have seen here in Summit County is that our vacancy rates track lower than metropolitan areas year-round as a rule, due to lack of affordable rentals for our workforce,” Kermode said. “First and fourth quarters of each year are particularly low due to the influx of seasonal workers for the winter recreation industry. It’s a boon for apartment complexes and rental property owners, but there’s always another side to the issue.”

In the years ahead, the housing authority anticipates additional competition for rental units – those priced in the local wage-earner range – to come from an increase in foreclosed properties that cause displacement of an owner, who then needs housing for their family. Or it could come from a tenant renting from the owner who then needs housing.

“This increase in demand, and subsequent decrease in supply, leads to overcrowded housing which has several undesirable consequences: poor job and school performance, parking concerns, and public and personal safety issues,” Kermode said. “Generally, an increase in demand leads to an increase in rents, which then has added consequences such as less money available to spend on adequate food, health care, insurance and other basic necessities.”

Rents in Colorado’s metro areas have increased as a result of demand, according to the report.

“It’s not a pretty picture for the near future, so we need to intensify our efforts at finding rental housing solutions that work in our resort area,” Kermode said.

The Blue River Apartments in Silverthorne – which consist of affordable and tax credit rental housing – have been about 97 percent occupied all year. The monthly rent was increased about $10 in the past year, mostly because of supply and demand, Jeremy Stephani, business manager for Pinnacle Management said. The company also oversees Breckenridge Terrace apartments, which consist of 140 employee housing units and 40 year-round rentals. The summer was a little bit slower in terms of demand for the year-round rentals, but it’s picking up. Once they go vacant, they usually fill pretty quick, Stephani said. Rents at Breckenridge Terrace have not gone up in the past year.

At Pinewood Village Apartments in Breckenridge – which offers a mix of affordable and market-rate housing – property manager Ricardo Ochoa said long-term rentals have stayed at about 99 percent occupancy. The village draws locals who “stick around for quite a while.”

“I don’t think there is as much housing as there could be in Breckenridge,” Ochoa said. “There’s always people looking for apartments.”

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