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Boston spring preview: Major trends and milestones to watch for this season

Rents, prices, developments, more!

Jorge Salcedo/Shutterstock

You wouldn’t know it with one nor’easter after another, but spring has technically arrived in Boston.

Here are the trends to watch—and the milestones to watch for—during the next few months.


Airbnb regulations

The city is this close to implementing its first major regulations of short-term rentals done through room-sharing sites such as Airbnb.

The regulations are expected to include restrictions on how long homeowners can rent out entire condos, apartments, and houses; and a requirement that short-term landlords register their short-term rentals with the city.

The state could also require registration—and could start taxing such rentals.

Votes on the changes are expected this spring, but any implementation would probably come later.

Amazon decision

An aerial view of a large park space. There are buildings on the perimeter of the park space. Ed Kohler/Flickr

This is the gazillion-dollar question hanging over not only Boston and the Boston region, but pretty much nearly every other major metro area in the U.S. now.

The e-retail behemoth picked 20 finalists in January to host its second headquarters—a sprawling affair meant to run to 8 million square feet and host 50,000 employees—and is expected to pick a winner before the end of 2018.

If Boston does land the HQ, it would likely go on the site of the now-shuttered Suffolk Downs racetrack.

Will Amazon announce the winner this spring? Stay tuned. Everyone else is.

Housing market cooldown

The recent federal tax code overhaul could translate into fewer homebuyers in Boston, one of the most expensive cities in the nation for purchasing a home.

The CliffsNotes reason: Caps and threshold changes on certain deductions might dissuade people from buying real estate in the interest of saving shallower pots of after-tax income.

Rental market warmup

Those same folks who avoid the Boston sales market might instead opt for the city’s notoriously tight and expensive rental market.

The addition of more prospective tenants could make that market all the more tighter and expensive this spring—great news for landlords, of course, but not so much everyone else.

Major sales

A building under construction. There is a crane and the windows are all entirely open.
One Dalton under construction in 2017
Sara Colket Photography

Yes, newer developments such as Pierce Boston in Fenway and One Dalton in Back Bay are sure to record some notably titanic closings, but “major sales” in this sense involves development sites.

In particular, the 20-acre site of the old Bayside Expo Center in Dorchester is expected to fetch in the nine figures; and to become, in turn, the site of one of the bigger new developments in a Boston full of bigger new developments.

Major developments

Rendering of Dock Square Garage conversion
Rendering via Stantec

Speaking of bigger new developments, keep your eyes peeled for progress on several this spring, including the conversions of various garages (Dock Square, Winthrop Square, Boston Harbor, Clarendon, Government Center, on and on) and the continued unfolding of Seaport Square.

Silver Line extension

Let’s end with some unmitigated good news for Boston and its surrounding region: The Silver Line is expected this April to start rolling back and forth from downtown Chelsea via South Station and Eastie. Bravo.