One of the meta-themes of 2015 was a supposed general turn in Boston's luxury rental market in favor of tenants. Basically, previously unworried landlords were suddenly offering more incentives such as free months to lure tenants, who seemed to have more choices than ever due largely to new development. Or at least that was the thinking.
Did it really happen? Did the Boston luxury rental market, the sphere where a studio can cost $3,000 a month, really shift decidedly in favor of tenants—and for the long-term? Maybe. Yes and no. Who knows? The facts at the end of 2015 are this: The Boston region remains the most expensive locale in the U.S. to rent an apartment, behind only the San Francisco and New York City areas. Rents in more desirable areas such as downtown Boston and Cambridge's Kendall Square did not soften in the aggregate during the year. In fact, in some places such as Back Bay and Harvard Square, they appeared to jump. And yet. There are more developments, especially newer ones looking to lease up fairly fast, offering incentives such as free rent.
There are two mitigating factors here that have kept rents at the higher end from a-tumblin' down. No. 1, there are plenty of residents who can afford the prices. A report from New York University's Furman Center released this spring found that the median renter's income in Boston, "grew nearly four times as much as rents" from 2006 through 2013. In other words, there are more Bostonians, Cantabrigians, etc., who see that $3K/month studio and think, "Not ideal, but no problem." No. 2, for-sale housing remains cartoonishly expensive, thus forcing more prospective tenants into the rental pool. Maybe if the economy went south... But who wants that? For now, it would appear that the Great Luxury Glutpocalypse that was supposed to have seized Boston et al this year is instead coming incrementally (and anecdotally). Change, but not seismic. Stay tuned.
· Boston Glutpocalypse! Broker, Landlord Panic Grips Luxury End [Curbed Boston]
· Cheapest, Priciest Hub Areas to Rent an Apt. as 2015 Ends [Curbed Boston]
· Allston's Newest Apt. Complex Is Open and Offering Free Rent [Curbed Boston]
· Even the Good News About Boston's Rental Market Is Upsetting [Curbed Boston]
· The Biggest Greater Boston Apartment Openings in 2015 [Curbed Boston]