Valley rentals still pricey

By Kevin Huelsmann, Jackson Hole Daily
April 11, 2013

Teton County renters paid about twice as much a month for their homes as renters in the rest of Wyoming did last year.

Despite dropping slightly during the last few months of 2012, Jackson-area rents still topped the rest of the state, according to a Wyoming cost-of-living report released this week.

Rent for a two-bedroom, unfurnished apartment — excluding gas and electric bills — cost an average of $1,218, down 1.1 percent from last year. In 2011, the average rent in the county cost $1,231, according to surveys of valley property owners. In the rest of Wyoming, a two-bedroom apartment averaged $666 a month.

After Teton County, the next-highest apartment rents are in neighboring Subslette County, where a two-bedroom apartment averages $813 a month.

Before the recession hit Jackson, it was common for rents to increase annually, said Blair Place Apartments manager Laura Wilcox on Thursday.

But despite increased demand for apartments — the 294-unit complex on Blair Road is at 83 percent occupancy now, compared to 70 percent this time last year — rents have not changed for the last three or four years, Wilcox said. A two-bedroom apartment still costs $1,200 a month.

“We’ve been pretty steady,” she said.

The cost of a one-bedroom deluxe apartment at Aspen Meadows Apartments increased slightly from last summer, property manager Sean Ryan said. Those apartments are going for $880 per month. Last year, the rent was $825.

“It seems like everything is coming back,” he said, “like there’s more work in the paper than there are places to live.”

Home rentals are even more expensive in Teton County.

For a two- or three-bedroom single-family home — not counting gas and electric expenses — the average monthly rental rate during the last quarter of 2012 was $1,732. That was a 6.2 percent decrease from the last three months of 2011, when the average rent for a similar home was $1,846.

The average two-bedroom home in Wyoming costs $984 a month to rent. Second in cost to Teton County, home rentals in Converse County average $1,192 a month.

Higher rental rates helped push Jackson’s housing costs to 154 percent of the state average.

State economists release cost-of-living statistics every three months. The reports compile average prices for a wide variety of goods in various categories — food, housing, clothing, transportation, medical and recreation — in counties throughout Wyoming.

Teton County ranked above the state average in each category. Although it didn’t top every category, the county was among the most expensive in every measure included in the report.

Overall, Teton County’s cost of living was 130 percent of the state average. Sublette County was the second highest for the overall cost of living, coming in at 110 percent of the state average.

The high housing costs aren’t expected to decrease anytime soon.

Local realtors have been saying for months that the market is starting to pick up. They’ve pointed out that the number of housing transactions has increased in the last few months, even though the overall dollar figures of those sales haven’t increased much from 2012.

The jump in housing deals has, however, helped thin out the valley’s stock of homes.

At the beginning of March, there were 60 sales recorded. During the same period in 2012, there were only 51 transactions, according to statistics compiled by several real estate companies.

Unlike homes and apartments, rental prices for mobile homes and mobile home lots increased during the last months of 2012, according to state economists.

The rent for a single-wide lot, with water, cost an average of $344 per month during the last quarter of 2012. That’s an approximately 7.1 percent increase from the same time period in 2011.

The monthly rental rate for a mobile home, including the expense of a lot, was $824 during the last three months of 2012. In 2011, it was $765.

That translates to an increase of 7.7 percent between 2011 and 2012.



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