Much of the increase in vacancy stemmed from vacancy rates over ten percent in Downtown Denver where an enormous amount of multifamily building has occurred in recent years. The vacancy rate was 5 percent during the third quarter of last year, and 4.7 percent during the fourth quarter of 2014.
Meanwhile, the average rent in metro Denver flattened off with a metro-wide average rent of $1,292 during the fourth quarter of 2015. The average rent was 1,291 during the third quarter of 2015 and 1,168 during the fourth quarter of 2014 (measured in $).
Although the average rent was essentially unchanged from the third quarter to the fourth quarter of 2015, it remained up significantly, year over year. From the fourth quarter of 2014 to the fourth quarter of 2015, the average rent in metro Denver was up 10.6 percent. Yes, that's a drop off from the previous four quarters — all of which had YOY increases over over 12 percent — but a YOY change of over 10 percent still shows very strong growth (measured in %):
And for those interested in the median rent, we don't see much of a difference in the trend here. The median rent did actually fall, however, from the third quarter to the fourth quarter, unlike the average rent. This fact does suggest, though, that what's driving the fall in rents is not just drops in the newest and most expensive units. Rents were falling in median-priced units as well. If falling rents were being driven only in the most expensive units, we'd see more of a fall in average rents that was more comparative to the change in median rents (measured in $).
Here are the two measures compared (in $):
While the industry will likely scoff at the idea that there's any real softening in the market, the fact is it's too early to know how global trends will affect local markets. With collapsing oil prices affecting northern Colorado, and weakening economies in most of the US's biggest trading partners, including Canada, Japan, and China, there are reasons to be cautious.
Real estate markets have continued to benefit from demographic changes, however, as population growth, and growth among the educated and employed have helped demand for real estate.