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Boston apartment rents remain steady heading into April despite coronavirus

It’s too early to gauge the pandemic’s effects, if any, on what’s still one the priciest U.S. cities for leasing a place to live

The exteriors of three apartment buildings, each shorter than the last, with a lot of blue sky visible behind. Shutterstock

It’s too early to tell what effects, if any, the novel coronavirus pandemic is having on the Boston apartment market. If anything, it would appear as March clicks over to April that the outbreak is having no effect at all. Sums are still high, in other words.

That’s according to a new Zumper report tracking the median one- and two-bedroom apartment rents in major U.S. cities. The report tracks vacant and available units in the site’s own database, so, while it’s not a complete picture of the market, it’s a solid snapshot.

And what is it exactly? The median one-bedroom apartment rent in Boston as of April 1 was $2,500 a month, up 4.2 percent from April 2019, but unchanged from March. The median two-bedroom rent was $2,900, up 5.5 percent annually but also flat from March.

That month-to-month flatness is probably little solace to tenants facing job and income losses due to the economic fallout from the pandemic—especially given the year-over-year increases in the medians. Besides, as the Zumper report notes, any downturn could actually end up being good news ... for landlords.

“The rental market tends to be quite countercyclical, so in the event of an economic slowdown, the rental market has historically performed well as landlords spend to maintain their rent rolls and as Americans choose to rent, not buy,” the report said.

Below is a breakdown of how Boston stacks up against other major U.S. cities rent-wise heading into April, according to Zumper.

There are many reasons why Boston rents remain so high, by the way—not least the sales market, with its own hefty costs, and a historically low supply amid steady modern demand.