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As Boston Rents Shoot Through New Roofs, Will Tenants Win?

Boston's apartment rents have been among the nation's highest since time immemorial, and a new report on rents during the summer only confirms this: Boston's average asking rent of $1,773 placed it fourth in the nation as of Sept. 30—behind only New York City and two of its feeder communities, Fairfield County, Conn., and Westchester County, N.Y. Analysts blame/credit high demand and static supply for the hefty average.

As Casey Ross of The Globe reports, several new apartment towers in the Hub could spike the supply of available apartments and thus tamper rents a tad (a tad, people, not a lot—damn our enviable area!).

The heightened demand for rentals goes beyond downtown Boston, with large new complexes also going up in Somerville, Cambridge, Cohasset, Weymouth, Andover, and other municipalities. Real estate specialists said the increasing supply will eventually help to moderate prices.

"If I'm a renter, I'm encouraged by this," said Gregory Vasil, chief executive of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board. It's been a very long time since we've really produced a lot of apartments like this, and the increased supply will help address the problem" of ever-rising rents.

Part of the spur for this fresh rental development is the aforementioned desirable of a college-heavy area that never seems to lack for newcomers. And part has been the lackluster for-sale housing market. The bad jobs numbers, the economic uncertainty, 9-9-9 as a viable economic strategy for the world's only superpower, cats and dogs living together—it's all made would-be Hub homeowners skittish and left them running into the arms of landlords. In fact, nearly all of the new developments pitched in Boston in the last six months have involved rental units. Here's a few of the bigger ones:

· The 381-unit Kensington in Downtown Crossing, part of Mayor Menino's barnstorming to transform the area.
· Avalon Exeter, the 187-unit tower in Back Bay that fills in the last piece of the Prudential Center complex.
· The Victor, a 286-unit complex slated for the northern edge of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway in the West End.

We do wonder, though, that given the completion dates of these and other new towers—the Victor's apartments, for one, won't be available for rent until spring 2013—and that demand continues apace with supply, if Census data is anything to go by (and it is), whether most tenants will really feel a net drop in their monthly checks. Inflation alone would eat up drops of even several dozen dollars a month. We'll see.

Apartment Construction Booms as Rents Rise [Globe]
Rents Hit a Record High in Hub Area [Globe]
Construction to Begin on 28-Story Back Bay Tower [Globe]
Pols Poised to Welcome the Victor [Herald]
Our Kensington Construction Coverage [Curbed Boston]

Photo: Rendering of Avalon Exeter from Elkus Manfredi Architects.

Rose Kennedy Greenway

Atlantic Avenue, , MA 02110 (617) 292-0020 Visit Website

The Kensington

659-665 Washington Street, Boston, MA

The Kensington

659-665 Washington Street, Boston, MA