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Denver Rent Continues to Climb as Bargains Disappear

Civic Lofts, at 360 West 13th Avenue, is currently offering apartments ranging from $1,320 to $2,746 for studios to two bedrooms, as compared to $1,200 to $2,645 a month ago.
Civic Lofts, at 360 West 13th Avenue, is currently offering apartments ranging from $1,320 to $2,746 for studios to two bedrooms, as compared to $1,200 to $2,645 a month ago.
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Rent hikes that had been depressingly common for years in Denver finally disappeared after the arrival of COVID-19. But even though the latest data shows that the pandemic is far from over in Colorado, rent increases have once again become a monthly occurrence in the Mile High City.

And the costs in several suburbs are even higher.

The May 2021 Rent Report from Apartment List reveals that in April, the average rent in Denver jumped 1.8 percent over the previous month — even more than the 1.3 percent gain from February to March or the 0.9 percent from January to February. That adds up to a 4 percent rise in just three months. And while Denver rent is still down 2.1 percent from this time last year, that's less than half the 5.1 percent decline from February 2020 to February 2021.

This graphic shows what's been happening to Denver rent since April 2020, shortly after restrictions related to COVID-19 were first put in place:

As bad as these prices may seem, rents in many other parts of the metro area are higher than the Denver average of $1,600 for a two-bedroom, and are going up faster.  A look at ten nearby municipalities is led by Lone Tree, where the average two-bedroom now sits at more than $2,100 — but even rent in Englewood is more than in Denver.

See the comparisons here:

A closer look at metro rents reveals the budget-stressing situation in Denver's suburbs. All of the towns tracked by Apartment List for the graphic below show month-over-month rent growth, with Broomfield, Westminster and Lone Tree all topping 2 percent.

The year-over-year figures are even more telling. Of these ten cities, Denver is the only one with lower rent prices today than in April 2020. In contrast, rent in Littleton now averages 6.6 more than it did twelve months earlier.

One organization not bemoaning the current scenario is the Apartment Association of Metro Denver, which represents apartment owners.

The association's quarterly report calculates a 2.2 percent uptick in the first quarter of 2021 — a period that doesn't include April — and a monthly rent average of $1,544.

As for year-over-year rent, the AAMD's trend line is almost flat, with just an $8 monthly difference between now and this time last year. Moreover, vacancy rates have tightened, falling from 5.8 percent in the final quarter of 2020 to 5.5 percent during the first three months of 2021.

That's a formula for future rent increases.

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