Denver metro’s average rent dropped by almost $18 toward the end of 2021. Here’s what you could buy with that

(Not a full tank of gas.)
3 min. read
An apartment building near Cheesman Park. May 7, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Denver metro area rent, which is averaging out at $1,708.67, dropped by 2.86% in the last quarter of 2021.

That's according to the Denver Metro Area Apartment Vacancy and Rent Survey from the University of Denver's Daniels College of Business and Colorado Economic Management Associations.

The fourth quarter of 2021's average rent was $17.69 shy of the previous quarter's average of $1,726.36.

So what would this extra $17.69 buy you?

No, $17.69 wouldn't pay for a full tank of gas -- but you could buy around five-and-a-half gallons. You could almost buy three RTD day passes.

You could get nearly three Big Mac meals at McDonalds, as long as you don't take into account tax.

You couldn't afford two movie tickets for adults. But if you go alone, you might be able to pony up for some candy.

You could get around four-and-half gallons of store-brand milk or almost 13 candy bars -- but nobody should be eating that many candy bars (at least not in one sitting). That doesn't mean you couldn't mark them up and sell them door to door to pay the bills.

Vacancy rate rose from 3.7% to 4.3%, but that's still much lower than average. People looking for new digs don't have as many options as in previous years -- even if a few more properties are available than in quarter three of 2021.

Apartment industry leaders are using the low vacancy rates to advocate for more new construction and fewer government regulations on developers. There is less talk about issues like rent control, which can only be passed at the state level.

"Continued low vacancy rates in metro Denver indicate the city's ongoing need for new apartment units," noted Mark Williams, executive vice president of the Apartment Association of Metro Denver, in a statement. "Demand remains historically high, and unless we increase the pace of new construction, we'll see high costs and low supply in 2022."

By the end of the year, metro Denver boasted 382,321 rental units; 12,036 of those were new. That's more new fresh stock on the market than the city has seen since 2018.

The apartment rental market is still a better deal than home ownership, according to the Apartment Association of Metro Denver.

The average sales price for a single-family home in Denver was $754,697 in 2021, according to the Denver Metro Association of Realtors' latest Market Trends Report.

"The key to housing affordability is housing supply," Hamrick explained. "As we emerge from the pandemic, demand for rental housing is going to increase rapidly - especially in metro Denver."

Increased demand and less supply likely means higher prices.

So enjoy that $17.69 while you can.

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