Boston Market Rents are Cooking! has learned the housing downturn pushed rents to record highs in the metropolitan Boston area in the last quarter of 2011, while the vacancy rate dropped to four percent, a nine year low. Average monthly rents went from $1,600 in 2009 to $1,686 Dec. 2011. TheBostonGlobe reports economists expect rental rates to continue increasing for several years, even though developers broke ground for 1,912 units last year, the highest number since 2006. Of those, 418 are considered affordable. Eric S. Belsky, managing director of Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, says the demand for rental housing does show strength in the housing market, and that Boston is a desirable city to live in. Linda Patton, assistant director of off-campus housing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) says her listing of available rentals is a third of what it was two years ago, as the city’s graduate school population keeps expanding, further increasing demand. According to Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, there are large tracts of foreclosed properties that could be converted into rental properties, which would lower rents and clean up blighted neighborhoods. Reis Inc., a company that tracks commercial real estate, says Boston is the fifth most expensive rental market in the nation behind New York City, San Francisco, New York’s Westchester County, and Connecticut’s Fairfield County.

(Graphic credit: Reis Inc. graph of Boston rental market)

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