Allston Apartment Rental Market Report 2020

Posted By: Demetrios Salpoglou |  Nov 16
Allston Market Report

The year of COVID has brought with it some disruptive changes to the Greater Boston apartment rental market. While those changes have been felt to varying degrees in certain neighborhoods, the data shows that the Allston apartment rental market has been affected by these changes significantly more than others.

Record High Vacancies for Allston Apartments

The biggest trend we’ve seen in 2020 in terms of housing market changes has been in vacancy rates. The City of Boston has noted some alarming increases in overall apartment inventory as the population shifts from the densely populated areas around downtown and local Universities to the outer limits of the city. The City of Boston has seen a 423% increase in vacant apartments since November of 2019. Out of all of the neighborhoods within Boston, Allston has seen the 3rd highest increase in vacancy rate (+850%) behind only Downtown and Beacon Hill.

Town Neighborhood2020 Vacancy Rate2019 Vacancy Rate% Change
Allston10.08%1.06%+850.94%
City of Boston7.21%1.36%+423.53%

To break that down by the numbers, the Availability Rate of Allston currently sits at 12.04%. In the first week of November in 2019, that figure was 1.34%. This time last year there were only 51 apartments in Allston vacant or becoming available. One year later, that inventory has increased to 504. Even more alarming is 422 of those apartments are currently vacant 2 months after the 9/1 leasing date.

So why such a big jump for Allston? Unlike Beacon Hill and Downtown, it’s not located in the center of the city. The reasoning can be partly explained by its location in relation to several universities but especially Boston University. Allston is located west of Fenway, just across the river from Cambridge. When you look at rent prices compared to Cambridge, Symphony and Fenway, it was more affordable, so it couldn’t be strictly pricing. Could the size, condition, and layouts of the overall housing stock in Allston been a factor as well? Could there have a been a larger international presence renting in Allston than other areas?

There were numerous factors that combined to give Allston a higher than average vacancy rate when compared to other parts of Boston. There absolutely was a stronger presence of international students than many other parts of the city. In fact some buildings were almost completely filled with international students. The fact that some apartment buildings in Allston filled with international students was an organic process that happened over the years. Through international students meeting other students at school and throughout Boston, they became comfortable with suggesting that they live there and that became the dominant resident of the building. Some Allston properties had the self-fulfilling pipeline of international students telling other students about their buildings from international chat boards. Allston had the misfortune of the corona virus and the international travel ban wreak havoc on these local buildings. Boston University and their declared policies for housing and education also had some impact on the apartment vacancy rate.

Average Rent Prices in Allston

While inventory has been on the rise, it’s impact on apartment prices are just starting to be felt. Despite the sharp rise in vacant apartments, prices are are down slightly 2-4% year over year for all size apartments with the exception of Studio apartments. Prices for Allston studio apartments actually increased 5.1% compared to November 2019. However, we are seeing apartments rent when landlords drop their prices. Concessions and incentives are working as well the majority of landlords in Allston are now paying the full brokers fee to make sure they get their apartments rented.

AVG RENT PRICE STUDIOAVG RENT PRICE 1BRAVG RENT PRICE 2BRAVG RENT PRICE 3BRAVG RENT PRICE 4BR
ALLSTONALLSTONALLSTONALLSTONALLSTON
$1,731$1,823$2,325$2,801$3,639
+5.1%-2.9%-3.53%-3.88%-2.28%
AVG RENT PRICE STUDIOAVG RENT PRICE 1BRAVG RENT PRICE 2BRAVG RENT PRICE 3BRAVG RENT PRICE 4BR
BOSTONBOSTONBOSTONBOSTONBOSTON
$1,743$2,090$2,536$2,981$3,555
-4.28%-3.6%-1.51%-0.70%-2.52%

Allston remains to be one of the more average neighborhoods in Boston in terms of rent prices. It is ranked 14 out of 25 in terms of average rent prices, priced similarly to neighboring Mission Hill, Fort Hill, and Brighton.

NeighborhoodStudio Avg. Rent1 Bedroom Avg. Rent2 Bedroom Avg. Rent3 Bedroom Avg. Rent4 Bedroom Avg. Rent5 Bedroom Avg. Rent
Allston$1,731$1,823$2,325$2,801$3,639$3,923
Mission Hill$1,503$1,979$2,526$3,170$3,912$4,751
Brighton$1,586$1,847$2,201$2,705$3,347$4,120
Jamaica Plain$1,294$1,898$2,415$2,912$3,062$4,035
Fort Hill$2,700$1,775$2,325$2,782$3,574$4,440
City of Boston$1,743$2,090$2,536$3,981$3,555$4,259
Suburbs$1,690$2,007$2,448$2,998$3,759$4,530

The fact that prices in the Allston apartment rental market haven’t dropped considerably in response to the increase in apartment inventory is a curious anomaly. This trend could quickly change as we approach December with landlords sitting vacant for three months. We have seen numerous landlords make micro price reductions over several weeks and this has stimulated some rentals. The same can be said for the Boston market as a whole. We are also seeing incentives of two months free rent for several places, with their hope of keeping their overall rents the same with other existing tenants. There is a lot of turbulence in the data because it is difficult to calculate out all the different marketing incentive variations including free month rents and price drops that seem to be happening at an accelerating basis.

There is lots of good news for apartment hunters in this data. Landlords are also cleaning up and renovating apartments at a pace we haven’t seen before. This vacancy dilemma has finally given landlords a chance to catch up on deferred maintenance so places are looking better than ever! There is a chance we could see a strong influx of students for the second semester of schools at major universities and that could bode well for the 1/1/21 market but it simply too early to tell. We have been seeing lots of search queries for the January Market so that keeps us optimistic. The picture will become much clearer over the next three weeks. If we do not have a strong January rental push it could be problematic because typically Feb-April apartment rentals are usually not strong rental months in Allston.

Boston Pads will continue to monitor the Allston apartment rental market through the next few months, and will report on any significant changes in the data that we’re seeing. Be sure to visit Boston Pads to find the best apartments in Allston.


Demetrios Salpoglou
Demetrios Salpoglou Posted date:November 16, 2020
Demetrios Salpoglou is the CEO of bostonpads.com which is an information and technology based services company that provides cutting edge resources to real estate companies. Demetrios has developed over 90 real estate related websites and owns hundreds of domain names. Demetrios also owns and operates six leading real estate offices with over 170 agents. Demetrios has pulled together the largest apartment leasing team in the Greater Boston Area and is responsible for procuring more apartment rentals than anyone in New England – with over 100k people finding their housing through his services. Demetrios is an avid real estate developer, peak performance trainer, educator, guest lecturer and motivational speaker.

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