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In the Boston rental market, early 2020 looks like early 2019

New statistics show that apartment rents haven’t budged much in 12 months—and they certainly haven’t dropped significantly

A very small and empty apartment with two people standing in the middle of it. Boston Globe via Getty Images

Apartment rents in the Boston area at the start of 2020 look suspiciously like apartment rents at the start of 2019. Or maybe not so suspiciously, as the region has long been one of the most expensive U.S. metros for renting an apartment.

New figures from Apartment List show median one- and two-bedroom rents in municipalities throughout the region either identical to what they were in January 2019 or awfully similar. For instance, the median one-bedroom rent in Boston proper was $1,710 a month, off only 0.4 percent from January 2019. And the median two-bedroom rent was $2,120, up 1.5 percent.

Apartment List’s report used both its own listing database and census statistics. So it’s a pretty good, though not comprehensive, snapshot of where the market is now.

Other cities and towns besides Boston saw their median rents barely budge over the past 12 months. Cambridge’s one-bedroom median, for instance, stayed the same at $1,860; and its two-bedroom median was up 3.2 percent, to $2,310. Somerville’s one-bedroom median also barely moved, increasing 0.1 percent annually, to $1,770, while the two-bedroom median was up 4.5 percent, to $2,200.

In fact, there were not any swings—up or down—of greater than 5 percent, except in Malden, where the two-bedroom median rent jumped 8.1 percent, to $1,950, and in far-off Salem, where the two-bedroom median was up 5.6 percent, to $1,800. Click through for the full Apartment List report.

It basically underscores what other January reports have shown: That the regional rental market is likely going to sail through 2020 in landlords’ favor. The reasons are familiar, and include a historic lack of supply amid growing demand as well as zoning regs that have ensured that lack of supply.

What’s interesting about the present, though, is that the region is in the midst of a similarly historic building boom, with thousands of new apartments going up—and thousands more planned or underway. But most of these skew toward the luxury end—it helps developers and investors to cover the region’s high land and construction costs—and therefore charge higher tags right out of the gate.

Meanwhile, the area’s sales market appears to be tilting in buyers’ favor, which might just take some of the demand out of the rental market. Stay tuned.