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Boston Apartment Rents Sank By Nearly 6% In June

An apartment building on the corner of West Broadway and E Street in South Boston.

Boston’s effective apartment rents fell in June, far outpacing the drop in asking rents, a sign that the apartment market has been more damaged by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic than developers anticipated.

Rents in executed leases in Boston were 5.8% lower in June than they were last year. Asking rents, which are calculated by deducting stated discounts from listing prices, have fallen by about 3.2% year-over-year, according to data from RealPage.

The delta shows that landlords are being forced to discount market-rate units below their listed price, something that would have seemed unthinkable last year as Boston's housing prices soared. June 2019 apartment rents were up nearly 9% from 2018, according to Zumper.

Boston’s average asking rent is now $2,346 per month, according to RealPage, which is still about $930 more than the national average. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the Boston apartment market more severely than most other major markets in the U.S. as both rent change and occupancy continue to slip relative to pre-pandemic levels,” according to RealPage. 

Boston’s June occupancy rate was 95.1%, which marked a 2% year-over-year decline, according to the property management software company, a stark contrast to the booming multifamily market of last summer, when the national occupancy rate reached its highest level since 2000.

The rent drops are reflective of more supply than demand in the Boston apartment market. One report found that Greater Boston's multifamily inventory in May was 59% higher than it was in 2019, a sign that many renters chose to break their leases and move out of the city or in with roommates or parents. 

Although overall multifamily rent payment rates remain high compared to other CRE asset classes, Boston’s multifamily picture may only become bleaker with the end of beefed-up federal unemployment assistance around the corner. Between 19 million and 23 million people living in rental units nationwide are in danger of eviction come September, according to the Aspen Institute.

Related Topics: Realpage, coronavirus