Boston rental market’s ‘real-time vacancy rate’ remains high as coronavirus pandemic continues


Boston’s apartment vacancy rate remains through the roof, a top local market analyst said, with downtown and high-density university areas posting the most available apartments.The city’s “real-time vacancy rate” – the number of unoccupied apartments right now – is 8.91%, which means that more than one in 12 apartments in the city have no tenant, according to Boston Pads.

This company, a large local rental information platform that analyzes data, says it’s just over five times what it was at this time last year, when only 1, 48% of apartments in the city were empty. Boston Pads said that around the same time last year, only 1,500 apartments were “available” – vacant or coming on the market – while now that number is around 6,000.

The company said the downtown district led the way with a vacancy rate more than 27 times higher than last year. Next is Allston, with a rate nearly 12 times higher; the area around Northeastern University with more than 10 times; Beacon Hill with over nine times; and Fenway with six times as many vacant apartments, according to the company.

“You have high localized vacancy rates in certain neighborhoods,” Demetrios Salpoglou, CEO of Boston Pads, told the Herald.

Salpogluo said most of these programs made sense because they are near colleges, which run many programs remotely. But the downtown Tony neighborhood, filled with high-priced condos, was something of a surprise, he admitted. Salpoglou said he did not realize how many of these apartments and condos were owned by companies that used them as short-term rentals, offering monthly leases for high-end furnished apartments, aimed at business executives or patients hospitalized in town for a while.

“These operators, they certainly had no choice but to send it back to the market and rent it out in whatever shape or form they could” after the market for such places hit a low under the coronavirus, Salpoglou said.

The Herald reported last month that homeowners were “in a panic,” another analyst said – falling prices and cutting offers as the market remains inundated with apartments even after Boston’s busiest moving day , September 1. About 60% of leases start day, largely driven by the academic year.

Salpoglou said he sees the same – that prices aren’t necessarily falling precipitously yet, which is likely a sign that owners believe a strong recovery is possible once there’s a vaccine or treatment. proven effective against the virus. Another positive indicator, he said, is that searches for “Boston apartments” and associated queries on Google haven’t seen much decline.

He said rents fell only a few percentage points in Boston – less than 1% for two beds, up more than 3% for three beds – because landlords are turning to incentives first, offering pay brokerage fees and cover other moving-in costs. . Boston Pads data shows that about 70% of landlords pay some or all of the brokerage fees, which are often equal to one month’s rent.

“Even during recessions, we haven’t seen the kind of incentives that we’ve seen as we’ve seen recently,” Salpoglou said.


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