Boston is an expensive city. But it’s worth it! There’s no city quite like it. It’s got an extensive history, is on the water with a great climate and has a strong community. It’s a hub for education and medical advancements. Couple that with high turnover due to the 152,000 college students and many visiting medical professionals and you’ve got a recipe for a hot rental market.
Here are my top five tips for renting in Boston:
Be flexible with your move-in/out date.
The large student population results in a desired move-in date of September 1st. It’s both a blessing and a curse. A September 1st move-in date offers you a lot of properties on the market, but you’ll also have to compete with everyone else wanting to move in that day. And you will probably be paying a premium because it’s such a high-demand date.
After the September 1st rush, the second busiest move-in dates are in June and July.
Having a flexible move-in date will open up more properties for you, and will probably make your move a bit easier. Chances are, you’ll also pay less for the same apartment with an off-cycle move-in.
People change jobs suddenly, renovations happen. Tenants get evicted or break their leases. Most landlords aren’t going let their units sit empty from January through August. The best case scenario is that you get a deal and you’re not competing with 50 other no- parking permits and moving trucks.
2. Use a Realtor®.
There are plenty of people who search for apartments online and find a good one on Craigslist or Zillow. However, you’ll have many more options when using a real human with personal connections. Not every apartment is advertised online! A Realtor® can give you advice or viewpoints you hadn’t even considered. It’s also a lot easier to deal with one person than to schedule five showings with five different agents. Using a Realtor® can also give you inside knowledge of the neighborhood. It’s also to your advantage as the tenant, to have someone with experience negotiating your lease on your behalf.
3. Understand the math
Essentially, this is how to factor discounts and promotions into your rent. In Boston, the standard rental fee is one month’s rent. Sometimes the landlord pays the fee, and sometimes the client does. Some larger buildings at times also offer months of free rent. If the client is paying the fee, you can look at it like they’re paying 13 months rent for a 12 month lease. Here are a few examples of how this can be done.
You find an apartment you like. It’s $2,500/mo and you have to pay the fee.
($2500 x 13) / 12 = $2708.33/mo
You find an apartment you like. It’s $2500/mo and the landlord is paying the fee and offering first month’s rent free.
($2500 x 11) / 12 = $2291.67/mo
You find an apartment you like. It’s $2500/mo and you have to pay the fee but your realtor negotiated your first month fee. Well, that’s a wash. $2500/mo.
4. Respect pet rules.
If the property/unit is not pet-friendly, please be respectful. Don’t say you have a service animal if you don’t. Please realize this is not the place for you. It won’t work out well for you or your landlord.
5. Use local resources.
The community within Boston is what really makes it shine. The best way to be involved in the community is to know what’s going on. Check out resources and websites like @Boston311 or www.eventbrite.com to see what goes in the neighborhood.
If you’re planning a move to Boston, congratulations! It’s a great city!
And if you have any questions about Back Bay or Boston rentals or sales, or about the market in general, please ask me! My cellphone number is 617 528 8461 and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you.