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In Aspen, it’s a renter’s market

Katie Redding
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN, Colorado ” In March, four renters gave notice at the Garfield Avenue Apartments in Carbondale, all citing lost jobs or employers that aren’t paying them, said property manager Kim Smeins.

The exodus has Smeins doing something she has only done twice in the 16 years she has managed the property: advertising the apartments.

A quick glance through The Aspen Times classifieds shows Smeins isn’t alone: Between March 31, 2008, and March 31, 2009, Aspen rentals advertised in The Aspen Times have nearly doubled, Basalt rental properties have nearly quadrupled, and Carbondale rentals have increased six-fold.

That doesn’t include rental photo ads, which weren’t even a category in 2008. On Tuesday, there were 35 rental advertisements that ran in the box-and-photo format that was once reserved for properties for sale.

“I’m not getting the replies I normally get,” said Arthur Rosenstein, a landlord trying to rent a furnished studio in Aspen. “I think that is because of the fact that there is a lot available.”

And Rosenstein is one of many landlords doing what would once have been unthinkable in Aspen ” lowering rents. He recently lowered the studio’s rent from $2,000 to $1,750 to increase his chances of renting it.

Pat Bonavito is following in his footsteps. During the past two weeks, Bonavito advertised his one-bedroom apartment he’s been renting at the Aspen Business Center. In that time, he got four calls but no renters for the apartment, which was advertised at $2,050.

Bonavito said he has been trying to leave the apartment to move closer to his job. His landlord agreed to let him break the lease if he could find another tenant.

But after he was unable to sublet the apartment in the first two weeks, Bonavito had to convince his landlord to lower the asking rent. Now it’s being advertised at $1,850, he said.

Stephen Ferry, owner of property management company Stephen Ferry Enterprises Ltd., also recently lowered the rent on a two-bedroom, two-bathroom, newly remodeled townhouse in Basalt, from $1,900 to $1,600, including utilities.

That amount will just cover the homeowner’s mortgage and the utilities, he said. The homeowner will lose money on the homeowner’s dues.

He’s also throwing in a month’s free rent.

“I’d rather make a dime than not make a dollar,” Ferry said.

kredding@aspentimes.com


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