COLORADO SPRINGS — Since the onset of the pandemic, rising rents have been especially common in cities like Colorado Springs in particular. But there’s one important thing for most people that likely did not go up with those prices.
For over a year, Neil Gerstein has become more familiar with rent prices in north American cities than just about anyone else.
“We’re able to get a pretty good gauge on how rent prices are trending,” Gersetin said.
It’s all part of his role with the rental listing website Zumper.
“My official title is growth analyst,” he said.
For Gerstein, keeping track of the median rental prices in America's 100 biggest cities this past year, one thing was clear.
“We saw one of the biggest rental market shifts, at least in my lifetime, this past year,” he said.
That shift put markets like Colorado Springs front and center.
“Colorado Springs, for a one bedroom unit, prices are up about 10 percent from February of last year,” he said.
But just a little bit to the north, prices did just the opposite.
“And then In Denver they’re down about six percent,” Gerstein said.
How could that be? Denver is historically more expensive than Colorado Springs.
Simply put, it’s because the pandemic uprooted people’s lives.
“A lot of people started working from home and wanted to have more space,” Gerstein said.
More space costs more money, especially in big cities.
“People just left these dense urban centers because there’s no need to commute to an office really,” he said.
For people from Denver, it was a good bang for their buck to rent a bigger place in the Springs instead.
“When this all started, Colorado Springs was the cheaper market of the two,” he said.
Gerstein says it’s a trend he’s seen all over the country.
“San Francisco and the Bay Area, where I’m located, we saw people leave here and prices drop dramatically,” he said. “And then we saw prices bump up in Sacramento and Fresno.”
But that trend creates a conundrum.
“Places where incomes tend to be lower saw the most price gains in rent last year,” Gertsein said. “Places where incomes tend to be higher, prices came down.”
Odds are in cities like Colorado Springs, your salary has not gone up with the city’s cost of living this past year.
“Across the board, the cost of housing has gotten switched a bit,” he said.
It was a relatively unexpected conundrum.
“Big shifts can happen, they’re definitely not common,” he said.
But a conundrum worth addressing, nonetheless.
“Sometimes there will be crazy earth-shattering events like what we saw last year.”