Not to long ago, renters had a hard time finding a place to live in the Grand Valley, but today there are plenty of choices. Housing vacancy rates across Colorado have jumped from 6.7% to 9.1% and in the Grand Valley, have almost tripled in the past year from 1.6% to 4.5%.
For mesa state junior Ryan McClanahan, finding his apartment last summer was difficult. "Apartments were booked six months in advance, so you had to be put on a waiting list," says McClanahan. This year, Allison Pogorelz found it to be quite a bit easier. "It was real easy; every block around campus had a house or apartment for rent," says Pogorelz.
Ellen Reimer, director of the Catholic Outreach, Almost Home program, has seen a drastic difference in a short period of time. "We were looking at about 7 pages earlier this year, now we are up to 23 pages of vacancies," says Reimer. Almost Home is a listing of available rentals in the Grand Junction area from numerous rental agencies.
Agencies like Reddy Reality are trying to deal with the increase. "Last summer we could have a unit and not have to advertise it,"says Joyce Serrano of Reddy. With an abundance of tenants, land lords could choose to be picky. Now it's the tenants that have the upper hand. "With the money we had in the area before, we could rent without negotiating. now we are negotiating," says Serrano. Which is good news for those people looking for a place to live.
New tenants aren't the only ones benefiting from the increase. "We've had some landlords give breaks for people already in homes, so they would stay," says Serrano. While this new trend is good for renters it could spell trouble for owners. "We can handle this for a while but I don't know how long the investors can hold on," says Serrano.
So even though Grand Junction's vacancy rate almost tripled this year,
we're still the lowest in the state, by a long shot.