Housing Costs for Colo. Renters Rising More Steeply than for Homeowners

Last year, almost one in every four renters in the greater Denver metro area paid 50 percent or more of their income in rent, a Rocky Mountain PBS I-News analysis of 2014 data from the American Community Survey has shown.

Among major Western metro areas other than those in California, only the Albuquerque, N.M., and Portland, Ore., areas had higher percentages of renters paying at least half their income for living space.

The Boulder area had the highest percent of households paying more than half their income in rent in Colorado, at 31 percent, followed by the Grand Junction area where 29 percent of renters paid more than half of their income in rent.

In 2014, the median rent in the Denver metro area was $1,083 a month, up 36 percent from $797 a decade earlier, according to the analysis. Only Seattle at $1,149 among major Western metro areas outside California had higher average rents last year.

The Boulder area had the highest median rent in Colorado at $1,204 a month.

The San Francisco area at $1,506, to cite one California example, had the highest median monthly rent in the nation.

Home prices for homeowners and prospective buyers across the metro region that includes Denver, Aurora and Boulder and points in-between also rose over the past decade, but not as sharply as for rents.

The median home price was up 14 percent from $244,000 in 2005 to $277,100 in 2014. That is the 9th highest home price among metro areas nationally. Only Seattle had a higher median price at $312,300 last year among metro areas in the West other than California.

About one in 10 homeowners in the Denver/Aurora/Boulder metro area paid 50 percent or more of their income for mortgages and other homeowner costs in 2014. That is actually down from 13.3 percent of homeowners in 2005. Major reasons may include the lower mortgage interest rates today and mortgage companies being more scrupulous in approving mortgage loans.

On average, the housing costs for homeowners with mortgages took about 22 percent of their income each month. That is down from about 26 percent in 2005. The 22 percent last year was lower than the average percentage of income to pay mortgages for the Seattle, Portland, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and Albuquerque metro areas.

Homeowners, on average, paid about $1,619 a month for mortgages and other housing costs last year. That is up only 3 percent from $1,575 in 2005. The $1,619 a month was the 11th highest among metro areas nationally. Only Seattle had a higher monthly cost among Western metro areas outside of California.

On the darker side of the real estate equation, county court filings for evictions have generally gone down since fiscal year 2009, listed as the final year of the Great Recession by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The eviction data for Colorado comes from the state Judicial Administration.

However, eviction filings remain high in Front Range counties. In addition, some Colorado counties, including El Paso, Douglas and Broomfield, have seen recent increases in eviction filings. Denver filings aren’t included in the data, as Denver isn’t part of the Judicial Administration.

El Paso has seen evictions rise 7 percent during the past fiscal year, which ended June 30, and had the second highest number in the state (excluding Denver) with more than 8,000 during last fiscal year, an average of more than 23 evictions a day.

Arapahoe County had the highest number, almost 9,000, or almost 25 a day.

Statewide, there were more than 37,000 evictions last fiscal year, down from more than 44,000 in the 2009 fiscal year. Still that is more than 100 a day.

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