Winter rental supply looking tight |

Winter rental supply looking tight

Preston Utley/Vail DailyVail Valley rentals are expected to be in high demand for the winter months.

EAGLE COUNTY – Incoming winter workers may want to jump-start their apartment search: Things already are filling up. The county’s affordable apartment complexes typically have to resort to short-term leases during the summer season to keep vacancy low. That’s not the case this year. And many of those renters currently in the area are planning to stay through the ski season.”We are absolutely full,” said Gerry Flynn, owner of Polar Star Properties, LLC. Flynn’s company manages Eaglebend Apartments and Kayak Crossing in Avon, and Lake Creek Village in Edwards. “You couldn’t rent a unit today if you tried,” Flynn said. Curtis Cook knows all about it. He’s been looking for a place to live for several weeks now. Everything he is finding is out of his price range – $700 or more for a bedroom.

“I think that’s expensive,” he said. “That’s almost a mortgage.”After living in Eagle-Vail for three years, he feels he has to start looking farther downvalley to find something affordable. And rents have gone up there, too, he said.Most landlords have been on the losing end of the rental market for the past several years. Low interest rates for mortgages have prompted many renters to buy homes, Flynn said. The local economy, particularly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, took a turn for the worse. That prompted several local companies to cut the working-class jobs that attract most of the local rental market, Flynn said. At the same time, Vail and Avon were adding large low- and moderate-income apartment complexes to their supply. Middle Creek in Vail opened for business earlier this year. Buffalo Ridge in Avon opened last year. Both complexes had a hard time attracting enough renters.But the oft-debated glut appears to ending, Flynn said.

“I think there are a lot more jobs,” he said. “Everyone is hiring again and that is a positive statement about the local economy.”Rents have stayed fairly stable over the past eight years, Flynn said. Rents for the complexes Polar Star manages are tied to wages to keep them affordable. However, prospective tenants may see an increase in rents for individually-owned condos and townhomes, which also make up a large share of local rental supply, he said. That could be bad news for renters, particularly those who work for smaller businesses. Employers like Vail Resorts and the town of Vail do a “pretty good job” of securing housing for their employees, Flynn said. Local economic growth may also be boosting bookings for higher income rentals. Beth Robinson, vice president of Alpine Management, said there’s been a moderate increase in winter bookings for the condos her company manages, which range from moderate to luxury rentals. Many of those units are rented by tourists for just weeks at a time. Already, the company has five winter reservations for a Vail studio and several for condos in Avon.

“I really think we’ve got a lot more bookings for this coming winter,” Robinson said. “We’re definitely up from the last few years, as far as this time of year goes. We’re pretty excited.”Staff Writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or, Colorado

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