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Rental rates mostly level in Teton County

By Kevin Huelsmann, Jackson Hole Daily
October 07, 2012

It costs slightly less to rent a home in Teton County this year, according to a state cost-of-living report released this week. Apartments are a little more expensive, though not by much.

But mostly stagnant prices didn’t knock the county from its spot as the most expensive place to live in Wyoming.

The report, published Oct. 2, shows the cost of living in Teton County is approximately 32 percent higher than anywhere else in Wyoming, according to the report.

Though the report reviews 140 items to determine the cost of living in communities across the state, housing carries the most weight.

Even during a time when rental prices haven’t moved much, housing costs in Teton County still far exceed those in other communities. They’re nearly 60 percent higher than the state average and about 40 percent higher than Sublette County, which has the second-highest housing costs in Wyoming.

The survey collected data for a few days in July from 28 cities and towns across the state. The information is used to create estimates for inflation and to compare the costs of living in different areas of the state.

A two- or three-bedroom single-family home in Teton County costs an average of $1,742 a month to rent, according to the report. Last year during the same time period, a similar home cost an average of $1,788 a month to rent. That’s a decrease of about 2.5 percent, the same as the statewide average.

Apartment rental rates, however, increased since 2011. According to the report, the average rental rate for a two-bedroom, unfurnished apartment was $1,275 a month in July, not including utilities. That compares to $1,259 a month in July 2011, an increase of 1.3 percent.

The average rate for apartment rental costs throughout the entire state increased by 1.5 percent between 2012 and 2011.

Devon Viehman-Wheeldon, a partner in Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates, said the rental market in Jackson has started to tighten up. Buyers have been snatching up apartments and homes in the lower price ranges, mostly below $500,000, she said.

“The interest rates are so low, they can rent it out and break even or even make their mortgage,” she said.

Some buyers are out-of-town investors, but there are plenty of full-time residents who finally have been able to get into the market, Viehman-Wheeldon said.

“The prices are right,” she said. “There are people who have been saving up for a down payment. The rents are high enough that they can make their mortgage payment.”

Regardless of the mix of new homebuyers, the fact that there is some activity should help the overall market, Viehman-Wheeldon said.

“I think it stimulates the market regardless of who’s buying,” she said. “It helps with sales, which will get prices back up.”

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