New Study Highlights Rent Burden in Colorado

According to a new study by Apartment List, a large share of renters in Metro Denver are struggling with rent burden but an even greater number of renters in rural areas face the same burden.

The study found that almost 25% of Metro Denver renters spent 50% or more of their monthly income on housing in 2017.

In more rural areas like Pueblo and Grand Junction, a larger share of renters carry the same burden despite lower average rents.

According to Chris Salviati, housing economist for Apartment List, this phenomenon occurs because rural areas don’t have economic opportunity despite low housing costs. In areas with economies that are not very robust, there are fewer opportunities to earn higher wages as well as little new construction to help lower rents.

A household that pays 30% to 49% of its gross income toward housing is considered cost burdened. Households that pay 50% or more are considered severely cost burdened.

In the Metro Denver area, nearly 24% of renter households were considered severely rent burdened in 2017, a share that remained unchanged from 2016. 27% of renters were considered rent burdened.

Colorado Springs, the second largest metropolitan area in the state after Denver, had 25% of households considered severely rent burdened and just under 25% considered burdened.

Nationwide, just over 24% of renters are classified as severely burdened and 25% are burdened.

Denver has experienced rapid economic growth over the last few years. Between 2007 and 2017, median renter income grew by 31%. Despite this, rents grew at a much faster pace, increasing by 42.6% over the same period and causing a 3.2% increase in the number of renters who were cost burdened in the city.

In many other cities, income grew fast enough to keep pace with rising rent. In Raleigh, North Carolina, average renter income grew by 19.4% while average rent increased by 14.6%. The share of burdened renters in Raleigh decreased by 2.5% over the same time period.

Two of the larger college towns in Colorado had higher rent burdens than Metro Denver although it is possible that their higher share of low-income students skewed the figures. Boulder County had 30% severely burdened and 30% burdened renters while Fort Collins had 31% severely burdened and 30.5% burdened renters. In these cities, 60% of renters were considered burdened.

In May, Apartment List’s Denver Rent Report found that Metro Denver apartment rent is still a bargain when compared to surrounding suburbs. According to Apartment List, the median one-bedroom apartment rent was $1,050 and $1,320 for a two-bedroom apartment in Denver. While Denver has a high share of luxury and expensive rental units in the urban core, less desirable areas of Denver with older units help keep the median rent down. There has also been a surge of new construction that has helped keep rent from increasing further.

While Denver rents were up 1.6% year-over-year, Castle Rock experienced rent increases of 6% over the same period with the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment at $1,380.

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Opendoor and Zillow Both Enter Denver Real Estate Market With Instant Offers

Zillow, the online real estate database giant, has announced it will now go beyond simple real estate listings in Denver by offering instant offers.

Zillow Instant Offers previously launched in Las Vegas and Phoenix in the spring. The program will be expanded to Atlanta this month and Denver by the end of the year.

The Seattle-based giant won’t be alone in Denver, however: Opendoor is also bringing its instant offer service to the city. Opendoor has been providing instant offers for four years longer than Zillow and it’s ready to launch in Denver in October. Denver will become its 15th market.

The Denver market marks Zillow’s first foray into a more expensive real estate market. The first few Instant Offers markets had median home prices in the $200,000s whereas Denver has a median home value of more than $414,000 and has started to appear on lists of the country’s most unaffordable housing markets.

Opendoor uses software to predict the value of a home and make an instant offer which also comes with a 7% transaction fee. If a seller agrees to Opendoor’s offer, the company will flip the home by selling it to another home buyer.

Zillow’s Instant Offers program is similar: eligible homes receive cash offers that can be paid in a matter of days. Homeowners receive the offers from 15 hand-chosen major private investors with a side-by-side comparative market analysis. When a homeowner receives an offer from a participating investor, they can accept the offer and sell the home directly to an investor, accept the offer but use a real estate agent to close the transaction, or reject the offer and list their home for sale on the MLS with an agent.

The instant offer services are both geared toward a specific type of buyer: someone who wants to sell quickly and easily but not necessarily for top dollar.

It’s possible that Zillow and Opendoor will have the ability to disrupt the status quo in the real estate market thanks to their size, budgets, and consumer recognition. Early concerns were that Zillow would use the service to recruit sellers and line up home buyers in advance to eliminate agent commissions. Jeremy Wacksman, the president of the Instant Offers program at Zillow, has already said that their program has agents involved, stressing that Zillow is not a home flipper and is not looking for distressed homes. The fee is also higher than what homeowners would pay to sell their home on their own or through an agent.

Denver homeowners who want to test drive the Instant Offers program can click on a button on Zillow to request an instant offer. After filling out a form, homeowners will receive an initial cash offer within two days. If a homeowner wants to accept the instant offer, they will work with a local employee and have a licensed inspector dispatched and paid for by Zillow to determine if public record information is correct and if the home needs repairs.

Contractors who work for Zillow will perform small repairs to prepare the home for sale and Zillow will work with local agents to list and sell homes. In Denver, Zillow will work with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Innovative Real Estate, RE/MAX Alliance, and 8z Real Estate.

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Denver Fall Festivals in 2018

The Mile High City has plenty of fun, music, and entertainment planned this fall from beer festivals to art expos and music festivals. Here are some of the most anticipated activities this fall that will keep your weekends busy.


Farm to Bottle Fall Festival

September 29 @ Old South Gaylord Street

The Farm to Bottle Fall Festival brings local wineries, distilleries, and breweries together to toast to the harvest. This block celebration features unlimited tastings of more than 40 local wines, beers, and spirits with tasty treats offered by local food vendors. The event runs from 2 pm to 7 pm with live music provided. Pre-sale tickets start at $55 per person.


Denver Shred Fest

October 6 @ Levitt Pavilion Denver

The inaugural Denver Shred Fest kicks off on October 6 this year with great beer, food, winter sports, and awesome music: everything Denver is known for. Music headliners include Easy Giant, Rapidgrass, and Neon Indian but that’s not all. There will be a beer fest, food trucks, a ski and snowboard rail jam, a lumberjack competition, and the premier of the latest project from Absinthe Films. Shred Fest is designed as an all-inclusive event celebrating live music, snowboarding, skateboarding, and skiing. The event debuted in Missouri before premiering in Salt Lake and now Denver. Tickets range from $12 to $40.


TheBigWonderful Denver

October 6-7 @ 4400 Fox Street

TheBigWonderful returns to Denver with a weekend of bluegrass and beer. The event will feature more than 80 Colorado craft beer vendors with Denver food trucks offering a diverse menu. BeerFest will also feature 20 local cideries, breweries, and distilleries offering samples all day. The lineup for the two-day event features WhiteWater Ramble, That Damn Sasquatch, DeadPhish Orchestra, and more.


Punkin Chunkin

October 6-7 @ Arapahoe Park Racetrack, Aurora

Take a short trip out of the city to enjoy the famous Punkin Chunkin festival. Now in its 20th year, Punkin Chunkin is one of the most unique fall festivals in Colorado, attracting more than 30,000 people from across the region. The highlight of the event is the pumpkin throwing contest but there will also be food vendors, a fall market, a chainsaw carving competition, and family activities like pony rides and a pumpkin patch.


Harvest Week

October 7-11 @ The GrowHaus

Enjoy a night out in style during the 9th annual Harvest Week. Every day of the week, six Colorado chefs work together to create a unique pop-up dinner at The GrowHaus. The event celebrates Colorado’s chefs and farmers with the festivities benefiting The GrowHaus and EatDenver.


Denver Film Festival

October 31-Nov 11 @ Various venues

The Denver Film Society has promoted film as a civic forum and art since 1978 through screenings, special events, and community outreach. The most anticipated event is the Denver Film Festival which sells 55,000 tickets for over 250 films including shorts, independent films, documentaries, and blockbusters. The 41st annual Film Festival allows you to buy ticket packages for the UA Denver Pavilions Stadium 15, the Sie FilmCenter, and/or the Ellie Caulkins Opera House to support the cause.

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West Lot Development Near Coors Field Breaks Ground

The West Lot near Coors Field is one of the most exciting and highly anticipated developments in Denver. The mega-development is now fully under construction now that the groundbreaking has occurred with a goal of making the neighborhood relevant year-round, not just on game days.

The developer, Stantec, has planned a “Rockefeller Center-type” square that will bring condos, restaurants, a hotel, and the Rockies Baseball Hall of Fame to Lower Downtown, or LoDo. Lower Downtown is the oldest neighborhood in Denver and the historic district has been undergoing major revitalization in the last decade that has already made it home to some of the best-known shops and restaurants in Denver.

LoDo experienced its first rebirth with the opening of Coors Field in the 1990s. This new development hopes to move the neighborhood beyond baseball by mimicking Rockefeller Center in New York, complete with a Hall of Fame, ice skating in the winter, a 184-room hotel, and large LED screen in the courtyard.

The lot under development is located west and south of Coors Field and has largely been ignored as downtown has grown up in the last 22 years.

According to the developer, the buildings like the condos and hotel will serve as a backdrop for the plaza and entertainment activities. The buildings will enclose the plaza in a U-shaped design with multiple pedestrian entrances. Hotel guests and condo owners will have prime views of the activity below with balconies and rooftop spaces.

The public plaza will also serve as a gateway to the Rockies franchise, combining the Rockies Hall of Fame with multi-family residential housing, urban retail stores, office spaces, and restaurants. It will serve as a pre- and post-game meeting place with the ability to host neighborhood festivals, concerts, and public activities.

While nearby restaurants and bars have been largely onboard with the development, some have expressed concerns. Critics say the development is just another attraction to a downtown that’s already too congested. The area has already seen other major improvements in the last few years like the European-style pedestrian section of Dairy Block and Union Station.

The cost of revitalizing Denver’s urban areas also comes at a high cost aside from traffic. In 2016, $155 million in property taxes went to special districts like West Lot, Dairy Block, and Union Station.

Still, city leaders and residents can recognize the benefits of improving the city’s downtown area. In the 1980s, Denver experienced a massive construction boom thanks to the oil boom as property values soared but they crashed before the decade was over. By the late 1980s, LoDo was blighted and overlooked by the construction boom. Despite its huge collection of historic urban buildings, about 20% of the buildings in LoDo were demolished by 1988 to make way for parking lots.

Once the neighborhood was designated as historic, dozens of historic buildings were renovated to create restaurants, bars, offices, galleries, shops, and housing. Long abandoned warehouses became lofts and, in the 1990’s, Coors Field was built for the Colorado Rockies and the Pepsi Center arena opened. LoDo has now gone from 89 housing units in the 1980s to more than 3,700 today.

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4-Day School Weeks Continue in Denver’s School District 27J

A school district outside of Denver found a way to save nearly $1 million: transitioning to a four-day school week. The move has come with mixed feelings as a growing number of school districts across the country make the same switch in an effort to save money.

School district 27J, just northeast of downtown, cited a funding shortfall for the change. By switching to a four-day week, the district says it can better recruit and retain teachers and allocate resources that are in short supply.

“I realize this will be a significant change… but our district can no longer be expected to do more with less financial resources,” said Superintendent Chris Fiedler.


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