A renter’s market in Snowmass | AspenTimes.com

A renter’s market in Snowmass

SNOWMASS VILLAGE – No business is immune to the economic downturn, and that includes the Snowmass Village Housing Department.

The department manages 247 rental apartments ranging in size from studios to three-bedroom units. In past years, there was a sizable wait list for rental housing; currently, there are two three-bedroom units available to rent and the wait list for smaller units is whittled down.

“Generally, we have a lot of people on the wait list and we can easily fill our housing from that,” said Housing Manager Joe Coffey. “So it’s unusual to have vacancies. But the economy and the current number of jobs has affected the housing market, here and everywhere.

“The story here is that there are a lot more rentals available, both employee and free market, than there has been in recent years. We used to be the only game in town, but now there are more options.”

This doesn’t mean, however, that Snowmass has a surplus of rental units.

“Where it used to take us one hour to fill an apartment, it might take us a day now,” Coffey said.

In a few recent instances, the Housing Department has rented to general Pitkin County residents. Snowmass Village employees receive first priority, Coffey said, but in the case of a “handful” of units there was no town resident interested in renting.

“We need to keep these units occupied, so we’ll probably continue to put Pitkin County employees in them if we need to,” he said. “Our first priority is Snowmass employees, but we’re running out of Snowmass employees. To ensure that rents remain fair and affordable, we need to keep these units rented.”

Still, Coffey does not see a problem in the near future with reaching 100 percent occupancy.

“Do I think we will find ourselves with an overstock of housing? No. We’re not even close to that yet. But if we find ourselves with a large number of vacancies, we will adjust … perhaps relax the rules. But that would be a council decision and it would have to be discussed at a public meeting.”

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