Apartment rents continued to rise in the Colorado Springs area late last year, although not quite as fast as they have of late, according to a Colorado Division of Housing report released Friday.

Rents averaged $799.67 a month in the fourth quarter of 2013, a nearly $9 or 1.1 percent increase over the same period a year earlier, the report showed.

It was the 16th consecutive quarter in which average rents increased on a year-over-year basis. During that span, rents set record highs in several quarters.

But the fourth-quarter increase was the smallest in the last few years, the report showed. Also, fourth-quarter rents fell about $30 from the third quarter of 2013.

Still, the slowdown doesn't necessarily signal that rents are poised to drop, said Ryan McMaken, a Housing Division economist.

Instead, McMaken said, the slowdown probably reflects that more newly constructed apartments are coming on line, which gives renters more choices on where to live.

About 570 apartments were added in 2013, the Housing Division report showed. While that number is a fraction of the overall apartment inventory of nearly 46,000 units, it still represents the largest number of apartments added in a decade.

"It does seem that it's enough to affect the market," McMaken said.

Likewise, the single-family housing market has rebounded, also giving consumers more options and contributing to the rent slowdown, McMaken said. A flat employment picture also probably helped hold down the increase in rents.

The area's apartment vacancy rate was 7.1 percent in the fourth quarter, unchanged from a year earlier, but up from 5.4 percent in the third quarter of 2013.

Vacancy rates traditionally rise during the fourth quarter as fewer people move into apartments because the weather isn't as good. More single-family housing choices also might have contributed to the slowdown in the demand for apartments.

The area's highest fourth-quarter vacancy rate of 13.1 percent was found on the Springs' far northeast side, east of Academy and Powers boulevards and stretching north to Briargate. It's an area where many apartments are being built or have been completed, the Housing Division report showed.

At $917.13 a month, the far northeast side also had the highest average rent among seven submarkets shown in the Housing Division report.

The report also is sponsored by the Apartment Association of Southern Colorado; national commercial brokerage Apartment Realty Advisors, which has a Denver office; and Pierce-Eislen, an apartment information service.


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