F or renters it’s all about loca- tion, location, location – or is it? New data shows a record number of Denver renters are searching for a new place to live, and it’s not necessarily in the hot-spot locations across Den- ver that first come to mind. The first U.S. COVID-19 case was reported in January of last year, but it wasn’t until March that the virus really took hold of the country and began causing widespread disrup- tion. The spring leasing season, which typically is the most impor- tant for landlords, was put on hold as Americans were ordered to stay at home. By early summer, restric- tions began to ease, and consum- ers once again felt confident enough to make the leas- ing decisions that had been delayed. When renters did return to the market, it was clear that prefer- ences had changed dramatically. Pro- spective renters were enthusiastic about the market, searching for cheaper rents, taking advantage of increased concessions and looking for properties with more space. These were all great signs that Denver’s apartment mar- ket was headed toward a recovery, although trends began to vary wide- ly by location and asset class. Before the pandemic, renters were willing to pay a premium to live in some of Denver’s most in-demand neighborhoods, including the cen- tral business district, Lower Down- town and Union Station. According to data provided by Apartments. com, rents averaged $1,800 per unit in downtown Denver in early 2020, which was roughly 20% higher than the metro average. Proximity to Denver’s restaurant scene, a quick walk to the office or the ability to hop on a train to the airport were all perks that kept apartment hunt- ers interested in the urban core. The pulse of the market can be tracked by analyzing the movement of daily asking rents in one-bed- room units in Denver. Initially, daily asking rent trends in urban verses suburban properties were nearly identical – rents steadily increased as they would have in a normal Please see Page 29 INSIDE Denver and Colorado Springs start the new year with decisively different ends to 2020 Market updates Private-sector developers working in the affordable housing segment share insights Affordable housing PAGES 35-39 Age-qualified rentals are promising a lot of upside as baby boomers embrace retirement Community trends PAGE 20 February 2021 PAGES 4-8 Jeannie Tobin Director of market analytics, Denver, CoStar Group, Apartment renters head to the suburbs CoStar Group Many renters can no longer justify paying high rents to live in luxury apartments downtown when work-from-home policies continue and community amenities remain restricted. Instead, renter preferences have shifted to favor larger, more affordable apartment units in less densely populated areas. Pictured above is Camelback Pointe Apartment Homes.