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Boston's 5,000 New Apartments Won't Mean Lower Rents

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At least we don't think so. The Globe reported this morning that apartment towers, most of them rentals, are springing up all over Boston—particularly in Back Bay, Fenway, Chinatown and the Seaport District—at a pace and vigor not seen in years. It's all because of the favorable financing rates for developers; the popularity of the city, which keeps vacancy rates low amid high demand; and the rents, which seem to keep rising.

Most of these apartments—heck, probably all—are higher-end creations targeting the more affluent (or profligate) amongst us, including newcomers who may be unfamiliar with Boston's apartment market (free advice: it is not a New York or San Francisco alternative—it is similarly pricey, kids). Fundamentally speaking, Boston's apartment market is economically stratified; and what happens in one strata, stays in one strata, with the law of supply and demand applying to neighborhoods and not citywide. Scott Van Voorhis explores this a bit at Boston Real Estate Now:

Downtown apartment towers are for the young and upscale and the older and wealthy - these are hardly bastions of middle and working class family housing. And while many of the new suburban rental developments may not pack the height of the urban counterparts, but they are pitched at a decidedly upscale market. Nothing wrong with that, but there's not going to be much trickle down here when it comes to lowering rents for the rest of the market. Sure, there will be more luxury units for well off empty nesters to pick from, but it's hard to see that having any impact on apartment rents in Hyde Park or Dorchester.

· Will the Flood of Apartment Construction Lower Rents? Don’t Bank on It [Real Estate Now]
· Boston Seeing Residential Building Rush [Globe]
· Rent Check! Boston Apartment Construction Booming [Curbed Boston]