Is Aurora becoming a metro rental elite?

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AURORA | Despite slowing growth, Aurora rents have managed to increase every month of the year so far in 2019, according to new data published by San Francisco-based real estate firm Apartment List.

Median rents in the city shot up 0.2 percent between July and August, and have increased 2.3 percent since the same time last year, according to the Apartment List data.

The current median rent in the city hovers around $1,265 for a one-bedroom apartment. That median price increases $335 for a two-bedroom pad, according to Apartment List.

That puts the city’s rents more than $200 higher than the current statewide median, and several hundred dollars more than the national average.

“Compared to most large cities across the country, Aurora is less affordable for renters,” Apartment List analysts wrote in the firm’s September rent report.

Only 34 percent of Aurora residents are renters, according to RentCafé, another apartment search and data site based in Santa Barbara, California. The majority of Aurora renters are paying between $1,000 and $1,500 for housing each month, according to RentCafé data.

And although Aurora has long been viewed as a bastion of affordable housing for people pushed out of the state capital, median rents in Denver remain about $200 cheaper than in Aurora, according to Apartment List.

Denver median rents were the lowest in the metro area last month, hovering around $1,078 for a one-bedroom apartment. Thornton was the most expensive burg in the metroplex in August, boasting a median rent of $1,529 for a one-bedroom dwelling.

Despite consistent rent increases in Aurora this year, other metro area municipalities have started to see recent drops in rent prices.

Arvada, Westminster, Littleton, Englewood, Wheat Ridge and Golden all experienced a decrease in median rent prices last month, signaling an overall dip in the market, according to analysts.

“Apartment prices across the country are starting to lose steam,” Adrian Rosenberg, spokesman for RentCafé, wrote in an email. “In Colorado, only two out of the 22 cities analyzed saw month-over-month growth of more than 1 percent.”

Only Colorado Springs and Parker experienced sizable increases last month.

The last time Aurora experienced a decrease in median prices was last December.

Still, an overall lack of multi-family housing in the city could mean an exacerbated crunch before prolonged alleviation.

The number of new apartments going up in the city has slowly tracked up in recent years, though not at a sufficient rate to satiate demand, according to local real estate experts.

After issuing no multi-family permits in 2015, the city permitted more than 2,800 new multi-family units between 2016 and last year, according to the city’s building permit statistics.

Aurora permitted 456 new multi-family units in the first seven months of this year, per city data.

The city has also permitted more than 1,300 new single-family homes in each of the past three years.

Despite those healthy permitting numbers in recent years, Nancy Burke, vice president of government and community affairs for the Apartment Association of Metro Denver, told The Sentinel in April that housing affordability is only poised to get worse across the region in the coming decade. She said the metro area will need about 100,000 new units by 2030 to support a healthy market, but development is not on pace to meet that mark.

“I kind of frame it as growing pains for our metro area,” she said.