Now, to your question, first, and then to why the leap to buying can be difficult for some people in this economic climate.
I know of a great rental in North Central Denver. It is an early 1900s storefront/warehouse space that has a studio with large windows in the front, facing the street, and a 1000 sq/ft 2bd/1bath apartment in the back. Between the two spaces is a flagstone courtyard and behind the living space there is a flagstone patio and Koi pond. It is right in your rental range, and I believe you might be able to work out an agreement with the owner to allow other artists to sub-let the studio space with you to help you save on rent, and you might even be able to work out a lease to own option. The owner is an artist herself and is really looking for someone good to take the space over.
What many agents on the site will tell you, is what you've probably already read here, "with that kind of budget, you should buy a property." And while that is certainly true, I'll assume that if you had wanted to buy a property, you would have already bought one.
Moving past the idea of renting is difficult for many people for a myriad of reasons, and I think this is hard for us as real estate professionals, to remember sometimes.
-It's possible that with what people are hearing in the news, that they will not be able to get a loan because banks just aren't giving away money like they used to. While this can be true of people with marginal credit, scores below 640-700, there are loan opportunities out there for people with decent credit.
-Perhaps folks don't feel like they have enough money for a down payment because conventional loans are requiring up to 20% of purchase price. Again, there are programs, most notably through institutions that deal in FHA loans, where the required down payment can be as low as 3.5%. VA loans, for military personnel and veterans will sometimes finance 100% of a home's value.
-Mostly, however, it is my opinion, that folks are just plain scared of the real estate market. The media often reports of the horrible losses in home value that have occurred all around the country, and while there have been enormous losses in some areas, Denver, as a whole is not one of those markets. One of the reasons why the Denver market hasn't suffered as badly as others is that there wasn't a huge amount of speculation in this market driving prices up to unsustainable levels. this isn't to say there was no speculation here, but there are many working-class neighborhoods in the metro area whose residents bought homes to live in, not to make a quick buck from.
Another contributing factor to Denver's stability is the lower unemployment rate, as compared to other states and the inflow of new business and residents. While other cities saw declines in population, Denver saw slight increases.
If you are at all interested in seeing the space, please call or email me and I can set up a time for you to meet the owner, Sam, she's a friend of mine.
Spencer R. Madison
Your Castle Real Estate