2022 Watertown Apartment Rental Market Report
If you were to look at the last two years of rental data in Watertown MA, it’s hard to tell that a pandemic ever occurred. When vacancy rates and apartment availability soared to unprecedented levels throughout Greater Boston during COVID, Watertown’s rental supply stayed steady. With the exception of a slight surge in vacancies in the summer of 2020, Watertown’s apartment rental market barely skipped a beat. Now in 2022, the average rent price for Watertown apartments has hit an all-time high and vacancies hit their lowest level on record.
Watertown Apartment Rental Market Supply Figures
The real-time vacancy rate (RTVR) in Watertown currently sits at 0.62%. That figure has stayed below the 1% mark since the beginning of 2022, and at the end of June Watertown’s RTVR dropped to an all-time low of 0.31%. That indicates that apartment occupancy is at an all-time high in Watertown. Compared to the pre-pandemic RTVR level in mid July 2019, vacancies are down by a margin of 58.39%.
The real-time availability rate (RTAR) of apartments in Watertown is currently 1.31%. That is 50.38% under its pre-pandemic level in July 2019 (2.64%) indicating that renters in Watertown are seeing roughly half of the inventory they are used to seeing this time of year. During the pandemic, Watertown’s RTAR peaked at 4.57% while it surged to over 13% in Boston. So rental inventory in Watertown is and has remained below that of Boston over the last three years. That is impressive considering that Boston is seeing historically low rental supply figures in 2022.
Watertown Average Rent Prices 2022
The average rent price in Watertown, MA is currently $2,330. Earlier this month that figure surpassed its previous all-time high set on July 15, 2019 ($2,315) and it is continuing to climb further. Average rent did drop in Watertown by a small margin during the pandemic, but has consistently been on the upswing since the beginning of 2022. Watertown’s average rent price is currently up +6.62% year-over-year.
Despite the rise in rent prices, Watertown remains one of the more affordable neighborhoods to rent an apartment in Boston. Watertown ranks the 8th most expensive suburb to rent in greater Boston, but its average rent price of $2,330 is well below Boston’s average of $2,708.
Watertown Rental Market Forecast 2022 and Beyond
It appears that Watertown’s rental market may have benefited from a population shift towards the suburbs during COVID. Similar trends were seen in the Arlington rental market and the Quincy rental market over the past two years. When offices shut down in 2020 and many workers went remote, a lot of professionals opted to rent out in the suburbs where they could more easily social distance and enjoy larger work-from-home spaces.
Now Watertown, like most of Boston, is seeing even less apartment availability than before the pandemic. In addition to the apartment shortage, inflation is now driving up the costs of property maintenance for landlords. Both of these forces are exerting strong upward pressure on rent prices all over the city.
With an economic downturn on the horizon or perhaps already here, it will be interesting to see how long prices will continue to rise. If economic conditions take a turn for the worse, we could see corporate layoffs which will lead to higher unemployment and demand destruction. This will certainly curb rent prices, but not for the reasons anyone is hoping for. We expect rent prices to continue to rise in the short term in Watertown, but may level off towards the end of 2022. We do not expect rent prices to continue to rise in 2023. We’ll continue to monitor these trends as they develop.