Oct 1, 2021 - Real Estate
How renting an apartment or house is changing in Denver
The lobby of the X Denver apartment building. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images
The lobby of the X Denver apartment building. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Denver is emerging as a test market for an experiment in the way we rent apartments and homes.

State of play: Most of the new options — whether nomadic rentals, co-living arrangements or pairing intergenerational odd couples — are aimed at millennials and Gen Zers who want amenities and a sense of urban community.

  • Other trends, such as the build-for-rent homes in metro Denver, are investor-driven.

State of play: The local housing market is so costly now that it's cheaper to rent than buy.

  • Realtor.com found in July that the median monthly rent was $1,866, nearly 15% lower than a mortgage on a starter home.

What's more: A recent deluge of apartments in the Denver area — with more on the way — is forcing companies to find new ways to attract attention.

  • Younger renters have grown accustomed to cushier college dorms and off-campus apartments, so they want to maintain an elevated living arrangement post-grad.

What's happening: Three interesting new options for renters landed on the Denver market this year.

  • Flexible living: The option to rent posh apartments by the day, week or longer is the concept behind Landing and Denver-based Sentral. It appeals to a burgeoning population of digital nomads. Landing, which requires a membership fee, tells us that Denver bookings increased 35% in the second quarter of this year compared to the first three months.
  • Co-living: The 455-unit X Denver opened in June and the Chicago-based company is planning a second location. It offers traditional apartments and fully furnished co-living suites to connect people looking for roommates. The rooftop pool is the eye-catcher, but the location also offers a membership club, co-working spaces and a gym.
  • Intergenerational: This Odd Couples Housing program recently launched in Denver. It pairs two roommates — typically a younger professional or student with an older person — and offers lower rent. The company gets match fees and uses personality profiles to connect roommates.

What's next: Beyond apartments, investors are pouring billions into building neighborhoods of rental homes.

  • In the last six years, 418 build-for-rent homes were completed in the Denver area and another 337 are under construction, according to data cited by the Denver Business Journal.
  • The latest announcement came earlier this month from Crescent Communities, saying an undersupply in rental housing is driving the push.
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