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Fenway Apartment Rental Market Report 2020

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fenway rental market report

***UPDATED*** We’ve updated Fenway’s market report!  Click here for the 2022 Fenway Apartment Rental Market Report!

Few neighborhoods have been impacted as harshly as Fenway in terms of the local apartment rental market in 2020. While the City of Boston has seen significant increases in overall apartment inventory compared to December 2019, Fenway apartments saw one of the biggest year over year increases in the Real-Time Availability Rate (RTAR) out of all Boston neighborhoods.

See Also: 2021 Greater Boston Apartment Rental Market Report

In December 2019, Fenway’s RTAR was a slim 3.09%, meaning about 3% of the total apartment supply in Fenway was either vacant or becoming available. That number has inflated to 18.97% as of December 2020, a whopping 514% increase in just one year. The Availability Rate of 18.97% is the second highest in Boston currently, behind only Downtown.

Town Neighborhood 2020 Availability Rate 2019 Availability Rate % Change
Fenway 18.97% 3.09% +513.92%
City of Boston 8.95% 2.09% +422.32%
Boston Suburbs 5.60% 1.77% +228.89%

The reason Fenway has been so adversely affected boils down to mostly one reason: the local universities had far less students for the fall semester. The student population comprises a sizable percentage of the local housing market in Fenway. Between the travel ban preventing international students from coming in and the remote learning model being used by most local Universities, Fenway is seeing vacancy numbers that are unprecedented. We have spoken with numerous Boston Landlords that have indicated they haven’t seen vacancy rates like this since 1989. It’s a Boston apartment vacancy rate that newer landlords haven’t experienced. There is also less demand for the professional apartment housing market in this area as well. Density in housing is working against the Fenway at this moment.

Many landlords are looking towards the spring semester for direction on what to do with vacant units. Rent prices have fallen quite a bit as a result of the surplus inventory, but many have held off on dropping prices to see what happens in the spring. With restrictions tightening due to a surge in COVID cases, it looks like there’s no relief in site for local landlords, which could signal even more price drops. The pricing and inventory for September 1st apartments in the Fenway area have not been numerous enough in sampling size to discuss what landlords are thinking in terms of product placement. It appears as if we are going to have to wait until at least late-January to start getting a handle on what landlords will provide to the open Fenway apartment market.

Average Rent Prices in Fenway

The 1 year moving average rent price in Fenway has dropped about 5% on average for all size units as of December 2020. The excess inventory certainly has had its affect on rental prices, particularly for smaller size units like studio, one and two bedroom units, as prices have dropped anywhere from 6.5% to 8%. Larger size units have seen prices remain steady because 4 bedroom apartments are much less common in Fenway than smaller units. Overall the biggest factor you will see is the amount of concessions or incentives that landlords in the Fenway area are providing. Fenway property owners have gone up in a gigantic way by paying the brokers fee. Out of the 693 available apartments in the Fenway area an eye popping 494 apartments are paying the full brokers fee which equates to over 70% of landlords paying a commission to make sure their property gets rented. Under normal market conditions of the past decade you would be hard pressed to find greater than 5% of landlords paying the brokers commission.

$2,202 $2,760 $3,663 $4,843
-7.87% -6.57% -7.31% -1.72%
$2,086 $2,529 $2,990 $3,589
-3.78% -1.40% -0.43% -1.56%

Renters looking for bigger sized units will find better deals in nearby Allston and Mission Hill where supply is greater and prices have remained lower. Fenway remains one of the more expensive markets to rent an apartment in the area despite the surge in inventory. Fenway is more expensive than Allston and Mission Hill, but is still slightly less expensive than the Symphony/Northeastern market. In any event, it does not hurt potential tenants to make offers and ask for landlords to consider waiving either last month’s rent and/or the some or all of the security deposit.

Neighborhood Studio Avg. Rent 1 Bedroom Avg. Rent 2 Bedroom Avg. Rent 3 Bedroom Avg. Rent 4 Bedroom Avg. Rent 5 Bedroom Avg. Rent
Fenway $1,760 $2,202 $2,760 $3,663 $4,843 $6,113
Mission Hill $1,501 $1,972 $2,552 $3,166 $3,960 $4,881
Northeastern/Symphony $1,853 $2,462 $2,993 $3,905 $5,193 $6,529
Allston $1,705 $1,798 $2,252 $2,790 $3,666 $3,991
Fort Hill $2,700 $1,744 $2,251 $2,814 $3,704 $4,465
City of Boston $1,742 $2,086 $2,529 $2,990 $3,589 $4,403
Suburbs $1,729 $2,001 $2,422 $3,011 $3,794 $4,564

Rent prices certainly have fallen in the past 3 months since the 9/1 leasing day came to pass. However, landlords have been able to keep prices steady by offering a number of incentives and concessions to minimize the move in costs for renters. Some have offered several months free rent or waived deposits to keep rent prices up. As a result, renters looking for an apartment in Fenway can find some unique and valuable deals that normally wouldn’t be available. We have also seen some quick limited specials where one landlord offered 3 month’s free rent based on an 12 month lease or greater.

We expect overall rent prices to continue their downward trend over the course of the next few months in Fenway. There are also several bigger landlords pulling some of their properties off the market completely, and have decided now is the time to renovate and upgrade their apartments. It’s quite possible we will have a great supply of updated units coming into the Fenway apartment housing stock coming into the spring. We are also seeing more buildings that used to refuse college students- now welcoming them. It stands to reason that there is some uncertainly in the professional or non-student market as well. Until we have more certainty on a vaccine and it’s effect on lockdowns, local Universities don’t appear to be ready to go back to offering normal classroom learning.

Professionals have also been requesting larger apartments with more open space and extra rooms to conduct zoom meetings for work; but that is a tall order in the Fenway based on its overall housing stock and existing layouts. Several landlords that we spoke with have indicated that it might be time for them to take some studios and one bedroom and combine them to make larger bedroom counts. Some landlords believe we have an oversupply over smaller units and it maybe time to go in the other direction. Boston Pads will continue to monitor the rental market in Fenway as it develops.

Demetrios Salpoglou

Demetrios Salpoglou

Published December 15, 2020

Demetrios Salpoglou is the CEO of 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 120 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 130k people finding their housing through his services. Demetrios is an avid real estate developer, peak performance trainer, educator, guest lecturer and motivational speaker.