For Eagle County renters, housing picture is bright |

For Eagle County renters, housing picture is bright

NWS Affordable Housing DT 11-26-10

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Can anyone remember the last time it was this easy to rent a place locally?

For the first time in who knows how long, ski season in Eagle County has dawned with a relative wealth of places for rent. And it could be the first time ever local renters have had the choices they do today.

From Gypsum to Vail, there are apartments, townhomes and condos just ready to lease. Rental rates have dropped from their peaks of a couple of years ago, and some property managers are actually competing for tenants.

The Tower Plaza Suites was finished in late 2008. When builder Bob Borchardt broke ground on the 44-unit combination of one- and two-bedroom apartments, the valley’s rental vacancy rate was less than 1 percent. But the scene changed dramatically, and quickly.

Occupancy percentages at most valley apartment complexes are in the low to mid 90s these days.

Reacting to the changing market, rents at Tower Plaza Suites have dropped about 10 percent. And to encourage people to move, on-site property manager Kayla Rankin said Tower Plaza will now move any tenant who wants to move from another unit anywhere in the valley.

“We also have the first month free, or pro-rated against the rent,” Rankin said.

In Eagle, Eagle Villas apartments manager Sam Turner said someone from the management team is available at all hours of the day or night to show a unit to a prospective tenant.

“It’s a struggle right now,” Turner said. “It seems like we’ll get two places leased and then another two people will move out.”

With the valley’s population flat or shrinking these days, property managers find themselves competing for the same people.

“We do our best to keep people as tenants,” Turner said. “We’re doing our best to help with deposits – we’ll let people stretch out the payments.”

Eagle Villas also has a referral program that offers rental discounts to existing tenants who bring in new renters.

While properties are competing for tenants, those prospective renters now have some decisions to make.

If they want to live in Vail, there are units available at Timber Ridge or Middle Creek. In Gypsum, Rankin said she’s heard from potential renters who are impressed at the amouunt of space their money can lease in a nearly-new Tower Plaza unit.

While people can get more square feet for their money, Sean Belisle, who has a townhome for rent in Gypsum, believes the availability of units in the upper valley is having an effect on the down-valley market.

“It’s been hard to get this one rented,” Belisle said.

But, while the upper valley market is somewhat open now, Vail housing director Nina Timm said she thinks units will fill up over the next several weeks.

“Businesses traditionally staff up closer to Christmas,” Timm said, adding that she expects to see those people moving in over the next few weeks.

Still, Timm said, this is the first time Timber Ridge has had vacancies since the town acquired the property in 2003.

“There have always been times when there have been more units or less units available (in Vail),” Timm said. “But there’s more available now than there has been in a really long time.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or

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