The fourth quarter's average rent was up from the fourth quarter of 2015 with the average rent rising 4.2 percent from $1,292.
With a year-over-year increase of 4.2 percent, however, average rent came in at the smallest year-over-year increase since the first quarter of 2013, when the average rent grew 4.1 percent:
Rent growth has been falling for the past six quarters after reaching a record high of 13.2 percent during the second quarter of 2015.
The average rent has also fallen, quarter over quarter, for the past two quarters. After hitting $1,371 in the second quarter of this year, the average rent fell to $1,368 during the third quarter and then to $1,347 during the fourth quarter:
If we adjust for inflation, we see a similar trend, although we can note that in real terms, the average rent fell between 2001 and about 2011:
Flattening rents are likely a result of substantial increases in new housing construction that took place in metro Denver since 2012. In October 2016, for example, new housing permits reached the highest level recorded since 2001.
Not surprisingly, we also find that vacancy rates have increased as well. During the fourth quarter, the metro Denver' vacancy rate rose to 6.2 percent, which was up from the 3rd quarter rate of 5.1 percent. 2016's fourth quarter rate was down, however, from the vacancy one year earlier. The vacancy rate had surged to 6.8 percent during the fourth quarter of 2015, but fell again during the first quarter of 2016. Nevertheless, 2016's fourth-quarter rate of 6.1 percent is the second-highest vacancy rate recorded since 2010.
All of this points toward some stabilization in the market, although there is still little to indicate that we're entering a bearish market in multifamily housing, barring a sizable economic shock to employment or incomes.