DENVER-The average multifamily rental vacancy rate in Colorado, outside of the Denver area, fell to 8.9% in the third quarter, down from 11.1% at the end of last September, according to the semi-annual Multi-Family Rental and Vacancy Survey released by the Colorado Division of Housing. The average statewide monthly rent, meanwhile, held steady from a year ago at $784.

To afford the state’s average rent, a household needs to earn $31,500 annually, the equivalent of $15.14 per hour. The survey, conducted by University of Denver Daniels School of Business professor Gordon Von Stroh, reports on vacancy and rental information for 22 housing markets outside metro Denver. The 22 markets are grouped into three categories: urban, resort and regional rural.

Because rents are not decreasing, according to Von Stroh, the need for affordable housing continues in many Colorado communities. Vacancy rates for some of the state’s smaller community continue to be very low. Salida, Gunnison, Alamosa, Montrose, Canyon City, Fort Morgan all have vacancy rates below 5%. And vacancies in Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, Greeley and Pueblo have decreased from the last report, conducted in February.

ancies in the resort regions continue to be higher than normal. For the first time ever, for example, Summit County, which includes Copper Mountain, Breckenridge and Keystone, is reporting a double-digit vacancy, but average rents remained stable. However, regardless of the vacancy rate, households with lower incomes still struggle to afford the rent.

“While many of the areas of the sate were challenged with high demandduring the 1990s, there is still a need for rental apartments priced ffordable for today’s salaries,” says Kathi Williams, director of theColorado Division of Housing, which she says is working with local housing roups, governments and housing organizations “to address this imbalance. Maintaining the availability of affordable housing in Colorado will have a direct impact on the rural communities economic development success.”

The average rent for a two-bedroom, one-bath apartment ranged from a low of $381 in Sterling to $1,154 in Aspen. The median, or middle, rent ranged from $310 in Sterling to $1,089 in Eagle County, which includes Vail. Aspen’s median rent wasn’t far behind at $1,082.

Colorado’s urban markets are reporting an increase in their absorption of new rental units. During the past six months, Colorado Springs absorbed 900 new units. Its overall vacancy declined to 10.2% from 12.3% a year earlier. And the Pueblo market absorbed 485 new rental units and its vacancy rate declined to 7.4% from 12.8%. In Fort Collins, the average vacancy rate fell to 11% from 12.5% a year earlier.

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