One-Bedroom Rentals See Sharp Price Decline

Boston has seen, according to one study, the median price for a one-bedroom fall by 17 percent citywide between January 2020 and this month, and Beacon Hill hasn’t been immune to this trend.

According to Zumper, an online marketplace for apartment rentals, the median price for a one-bedroom in the city had fallen to $2,150 in January 2021 from $2,610 during that same month last year, and Will Natoli, who has worked as broker with Compass Real Estate on Newbury Street for the past five years and rents about 50 apartments each year, said that prices for one-bedroom rentals on Beacon Hill have similarly declined, which, he said, “is 100-percent COVID related, obviously.”

Boston’s rental market hinges largely on students, and “a lot of students are now studying remotely or at their parent’s house, or they’re not coming back to Boston, especially international students,” said Natoli, who grew up on Beacon Hill and now lives on River Street.

“They’re doing anything to get out of their leases,” he added.

Another factor that accounts for the drop in rental prices on Beacon Hill, Natoli said, is that many people who had intended to relocate to Boston for work were left limbo when the pandemic struck and their employers mulled over whether to open their offices back up, or to have them work remotely instead.

In response, Natoli said, “Landlords keep slashing prices until something sticks.”

Some are also offering incentives to tenants they would never have considered pre-COVID, like allowing pets or paying the broker’s fess themselves, and Natoli anticipates that tenants will expects this leniency from landlords as a given going forward.

The market on Beacon Hill seems to have been on an upswing for about the past month, however, Natoli said, with many inquiries coming from people whose relocation plans had been postponed due to the coronavirus moving here now for work.

Beacon Hill has also historically been one of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods to live in, and Natoli believes that too will help drive the recovery of the neighborhood’s rental market.

Moreover, Boston’s rental market on the whole is in “good shape,” Natoli said, because of the two “pillars” that the city are built on – education and healthcare.

“I expect the demand for apartments rentals will rebound simultaneously as more people return to the office,” Natoli said. “I don’t have a crystal ball, but by this summer, we hope to see the trend return to more tradition prices like we’ve seen in the past.”

William Natoli can be reached via email at [email protected].

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