Should I renew my lease or go buy a property? This is one of the most common questions that renters ask themselves. Chances are, you find yourself agonizing over this situation at least once, but possibly many more times over the course of your life. Deciding to renew your lease is as important as deciding whether you should rent or buy. In real estate, market timing is important, but so is knowing what is a great deal, both on the renting and buying side of the equation. The last thing you need is to rack up unnecessary expenses after moving to a new pad or staying put that you later realize could have been avoided. There are just so many factors to consider. If you stay put in your current Boston Pad, you have to deal with the potential of rising rent and perhaps a sub-par landlord. If you buy at the top, what happens if the market makes a correction in a long and tired asset bull run?
Most apartment rental leases in the Greater Boston Area are usually fixed term and written to expire in one year. Landlords in the Metro-Boston are governed by the greater market forces of a huge university and educational system that puts leases beginning and expiring on a Sept 1st Cycle. In fact, over the years we have studied rented apartments and availability dates and have noticed a range of as low as 68% to as high as 80% of all leases beginning and ending on 9/1. Those dates don’t leave much room for finding other times frames to effectively move per-se; so long range planning is a must in your quest to figure out whether you should buy or renew your lease.
If you ever have heard the phrase “If you fail to plan, plan to fail” well, that certainly applies to Greater Boston Real Estate. If you are thinking of buying, it is important that you give yourself enough time to be successful and learn the marketplace. You want to think about putting in at least 2-3 months of ground work to know the market before a purchase. You also have to consider the amount of time it takes to close on a purchase of a property.
If you are thinking of renewing your lease you have to think about your exit strategy and if you can sublet your place or not. You certainly do not want to be in the position of paying rent and a mortgage at the same time if you move into your purchase but can’t sublet or find renters. You now have to start playing chess not checkers with your housing decisions.
If you are lucky enough to have lived in the same apartment for several years you can always ask the landlord for a month to month lease. Sometimes landlords will be generous and provide that to you, if you have been a great tenant, and the landlord is considering upgrades to the place.
If a tenant has lived in a place for a long time some landlords don’t mind it being vacant for a couple of months as they recondition or reposition the asset for higher and better use. Under a tenancy-at-will agreement, you can move out after giving 30-day notice to your landlord. This agreement also allows your landlord to give you a 30-day notice to ask you to leave or to increase your rent.
If you are considering purchasing, try to work out a lease agreement with your landlord so that both of you can potentially win. A lot of landlords do not mind ending a lease in April or May if they are going to do a quick renovation to put it back on the rental market for June which is the second largest month of lease availability and renting dates. When in doubt, always seek the advice of a seasoned real estate agent to go over market timing and forces at play in the neighborhoods you are targeting to find your purchase. Knowing key factors will help you make a right decision that will save you time, money, and stress.
Familiarity with your Rental and the Surrounding Area
You are a seasoned renter. You already know what kind of neighborhood and services your current apartment is located in and has to offer. You already know the condition of your apartment and the layout of the floor plan. You have already optimized and furnished the place so that is a sunken cost that you don’t have to deal with again for a while. And you already are familiar with your landlord’s personality and their management style. Renewing your lease means you don’t have to deal with the ugly surprises that come with living in the rental since you already live there.
There is a flip side to renewing the lease in this situation. If you choose to stay in a neighborhood that no longer matches your lifestyle or that bores you, you will most likely have to stay there until the lease ends. Living in East Boston, for instance, has abundant parks for outdoor activities. However, you may now prefer to live in the Allston/Brighton area which could have more shops or places to your liking so that you can hang out with your friends. Moving out can be a better option if a neighborhood’s lifestyle is that important to you and you want to make the change. You should keep track of how much time you are commuting and going to places of your interest. Boston’s endless building boom is making the roads more congested and commute times are increasing, so being efficient in Boston is a must for true happiness.
The Expenses of Moving into a New Property That You Purchase.
The cost shifts of not renewing your lease and switching to a purchase situation come in mainly these forms: mortgage, taxes, deferred maintenance remedy, moving out and setting up residency in your new property. The expenses you have to pay when moving out include but are not limited to:
Hiring a moving company
Buying packaging supplies
Renting a moving truck
Storing items in a storage facility
The average cost of moving within the Boston area as of June 2016 is $432.91—and that’s for a small one bedroom apartment. The average cost of storing your items for one month during the same year is $105.81.
To set up your residency at your new place, the expenses you may have to pay include the following:
New amenities and decorations
Potential landscaping costs
Potential snow removal costs
Potential Extermination and pest control costs
When renewing the lease, you won’t have to deal with the expenses and the hassles of moving. Plus, it gives you plenty of time to plan your move after the next lease expires. There are times when it makes sense to move. For example, you serve in the military and you have to be transferred to a faraway base. Or you work far away and you need to decrease your commute time to work.
Parking in Boston is challenging. Many residential streets in the city are designated as “Resident Parking Only”. In order to park there, you have to apply for the resident parking permit at City Hall. The permit is free of charge, but you have to provide proof of your residency in Boston. When you decide if you want to stay longer at your apartment, you need to consider whether you can park at your residence without any problems. If your current apartment has either a parking garage, off-street parking, or both, renewing the lease allows you to continue taking advantage of the parking convenience. If you have to move out, make sure the new apartment will provide easy and convenient parking. The last thing you need is to move to a residence where it is difficult to park there. Never be afraid to check out the neighborhood both during the day and also at night to assess parking demand. You can also hire a professional parking agent from websites such as www.bostonparkingspaces.com to help scour the neighborhood to help find you great local parking spots.
Your Relationship with your Landlord
You want a landlord who responds to your maintenance requests immediately, provide excellent customer service all the time, and be available whenever you need them. Not to mention, they must always act professional and make you feel comfortable and wanted. If none of these criteria apply to them, it would be best not to renew the lease. When you move into a new community, hopefully you will get along better with a new landlord. When moving out, you may have to establish a different relationship with a new landlord, so there’s a possibility that you may or may not get along with them. Having a good tenant-landlord relationship is crucial, so keep this in mind when you plan to move out.
Getting Along with Your Roommates
If you have roommates, getting along with them is crucial to living in an apartment peacefully. You will be living and sharing the space with them all the time. When your roommate commits misdeeds, it is best if you move out when the lease expires. You do not want to live with someone who invades your privacy, damage your property, or refuse to work and pay the bills. Even if your roommate does not do anything wrong, something about having one just bothers you. Maybe you need more privacy. Maybe you and your roommate have personality or lifestyle differences that leads to conflict. Either way, it is a legitimate reason to leave. However, you should notify them in advance if you even start thinking about moving out. It will give them plenty of time to search for a new roommate. Otherwise, you could be responsible for paying your portion of the rent until they find someone to replace you.
Sacrifice Certain Amenities
Your apartment offers free heat and hot water, you pay a reasonable rent, and it is located near Revere Beach. You receive notice stating the lease is about to expire. You’re thinking about moving to the Fenway/Kenmore area where there are nightclubs, Fenway Park, and the Museum of Fine Arts. However, you have to pay for hot water and heat. All apartments and rentals offer different amenities to their tenants. Because of that, some amenities that you enjoy at your current residence may not be available at a new apartment. Not renewing the lease can prompt you to sacrifice some amenities that you want. Compare the list of amenities at your current rental to the ones at the prospective rental and see which ones are available and which ones are not. If the new apartment does not have certain amenities that your current place has, ask yourself if they are important to you. Moving out won’t be an issue if you give up on the amenities that are not important to you. At the end of the day, you are probably looking at a cost increase of anywhere from $200-$400 dollars per month depending on a number of lifestyle habits combined with the insulation or condition and size of the apartment.
If you want to move out of your apartment, but you feel that you can’t for whatever reason, it is not the end of the world. Renewing the lease can give you the opportunity and plenty of time for you to search for new apartments and to examine its surrounding vicinity. You will have plenty of time to plan the move and save money. By the time the lease expires again, you will be ready to leave for sure. If you decide once and for all that you do not want to renew the lease, just be prepare for the expenses that come with moving and potentially purchasing and make sure that the new apartment or home you will be moving into is worth it. To look for a new apartment or purchase a property, check out BostonPads.com where you will find listings of both great apartments and or condo’s or homes that willd suit your needs and preferences.
As we head into summer, it is natural that people want to spend more of their time outdoors. This is especially the case for homeowners—if you paid for a yard, you want to use it! Especially in Boston, having a yard is a cherished oasis. While it is a relief to stop thinking about icy walkways and paying for snow removal, summer brings a whole new checklist of actions to keep your yard in shape. Depending on the size of your yard, this can feel like a daunting task. Read below for our tips on taking the best care of your outdoor space this season!
Preventing Issues Vs. Treating Them
There’s no underestimating the convenience of preventing lawn issues as opposed to dealing with them when they become larger problems. This means that preventative maintenance is key and can save you from future headaches and expenses. Ask any expert, and they will tell you that it is much easier to prevent weeds from popping up in your yard than it is to get rid of them once they are there. Weeds make your yard appear dry, discolored and overgrown. The best way to keep weeds away is basic yard maintenance—regular mowing, using proper treatments and focusing on any bare spots in the grass. Not all yard issues are created equal. If you are overwhelmed by the amount of different options for products to buy, ask a neighbor with a similar yard or a professional at the store.
Decide on the Best Lawn Mowing Method
There are many contributing factors that relate to which form of lawn mowing makes the most sense for your property. For example, if you have a very small yard, it is probably not financially wise to hire an expensive company to come out and mow for you. Rather, it would be worth it to invest in your own lawn mower or hire someone in the neighborhood to mow for you. Maintaining a small patch of grass is fairly inexpensive and not very time-consuming. If you have a large space of grass, it is worth it to look into a yard maintenance company, or to invest in a more high quality mower of your own such as a riding mower. Take into account your schedule and how much time you would have to devote to the yard. If you only get to spend a few hours enjoying the outdoors, you want to spend them relaxing rather than mowing! The other benefit of hiring a lawn mowing company is that they stick to a specific schedule, and know the proper care needed for your yard.
The Right Amount of Water
When it comes to watering your yard, the line is very fine between too little water and too much water. Experts tend to agree that watering once a week is a good idea. You also need to take into account the weather in Boston. Boston weather can tend to be unpredictable, which can change the schedule for watering your hard. For example, if it is going to rain all week it is important not to over-water, which can cause flooding. If it is humid and dry, your yard likely needs a little extra care. Do some research on the type of soil that is in your yard, as some soils require a bit more water than others. Of course, newly planted grass seed needs a bit more attention in the form of a daily watering. When in doubt, ask an expert!
Keep Track of Fertilizing
While fertilizing can seem like just another step in an already long routine, it is an important one that should not be ignored. Without fertilization, your grass cannot grow and look healthy and green. The good news is this task does not need to be repeated often—in fact, most experts agree that four times per year is enough. Of course, it is a good idea to get additional guidelines from local Boston experts. There is an incredible amount of different types and brands of fertilizer, so it is would be good to visit a local hardware or gardening store and discuss with an expert what the best type of fertilizer is for your specific needs.
A yard is hard to come by in the Boston area, so you want to make sure you are taking the best care of it possible. Using the above tips can help you spend more time enjoying your yard this summer, and less time worrying about it!
There are many benefits to having a home office, even if you do not work from home. Having a home office can help keep you organized and give you a space to call your own. In Boston, there is tremendous traffic on many different routes getting in and out of the city and surrounding towns, so having a home office can make all the different in the world to your mental health and productivity. Read below for our tips on how to make the most out of this room!
Comfort is Key
While the purpose of a home office is to get work done, you cannot underestimate the importance of being comfortable there. After all, how much work can you really get done if you are sitting a in a chair that gives you back pain? Additionally, you can add a comfortable loveseat or chaise for short breaks from the desk! Always go with the best chair possible. Spend that extra money you will thank yourself later. The bottom line is that nearly all of us spend a great deal of time in front of a computer so spending money on a quality desk and chair is always a great decision.
Nothing can put you off from doing work as much as a dim lighting. You need bright lighting in your office so that you can see your work and stay awake! There are a variety of options for achieving the right amount of light. Task lamps are great for focusing on the work that is right in front of you, while not using a ton of electricity. It is great to consider an overhead light with a dimmer switch, as you can have the light nice and bright when you are working, and dim it when you are taking breaks.
Be sure you have everything you need on-hand, so you do not have to keep leaving your office and searching your house. This includes items such as pens, highlighters, electronics, etc. Make sure to bring something to drink and snacks into the room as well. With the ease of ordering items on line these days, you can often order your supplies and food right from your home office and have them delivered the same day! Talk about being productive! Anything that cuts down on your commute time will help you get ahead at work! Try it!
Try Using Voice to Text Speech
When you work from home, you can use technologies that often speed up your productivity without causing a disturbance to others. Try using Dragon Professional software when you fingers get cramped or tired of typing. It’s often a nice change of pace to simply talk out your work if you have been cranking out content or have extensively long content projects to accomplish.
Cater to your Taste
If a home office is your space, it should reflect your style! There are many ways you can put your personal touch on a room. Is purple your favorite color? Add an accent wall with purple paint! Wish your office had an ocean view? Create a nautical theme, and include photos of your favorite beach. There are plenty of ways to make your home office stylish, and it will be much easier to get work done if you enjoy the space.
Owning a home or renting an apartment can come with a lot of expenses that go beyond rent payments. If you own your own home, you will be responsible for water bills. If you are renting, some landlords include hot water in the monthly rent charge, but many do not and it falls on the tenants to pay. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to lower your monthly water bill. Read below for our tips!
Check for Leaks
When people think of a water leak, they often imagine a large amount of water that is immediately noticeable. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes a small sink leak can lead to a surge in your water bill. If you notice an increased cost and can’t attribute it to anything, it is a good idea to check all options for a potential leak. Small leaks have simple fixes—often, something just needs a bit of tightening.
Keep an Eye on your Shower Time
While a long, hot shower can be a relaxing start or end to the day, there is no denying that has an effect on your water bill total. If you are really looking to save some money, try lowering your amount of time spent in the shower by one minute at a time until you reach the minimum amount possible. While you may feel rushed in the beginning, you will feel relief once you see your lowered water bill!
Don’t Leave Faucets Running
It can feel like second nature to leave a sink running while performing a task such as brushing your teeth or washing your face. To lower water bills and be eco-friendly, it is best to turn off the sink while you do not need it. This means turning it on, off and on again for teeth brushing. This is a very small way to make a difference and does not require a lot of effort!
When it comes to toilets, not all are created equal! There are many eco-friendly toilet options that use less water than traditional toilets. While replacing a toilet is an option for owners and not renters, many landlords and luxury buildings are renovating and installing them. Also, be sure to keep an eye out and make sure your toilet is not running constantly—this is a simple mistake that can cost a lot of money!
Laundry and Dish Washing
Laundry machines use a lot of water to wash your clothes. To reduce water costs, it is a good idea to only run the laundry machine for full loads as opposed to lots of small loads. When doing dishes, it is a better idea to use a dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand. Washing by hand usually means a sink running for a lot longer than it needs to, and increases your water bill.
Follow the above tips to lower your water bill, and thank us later!
Being the local leader in real time apartment data in Boston, we’ve looked at many different ways of assessing the overall health of the local rental market. Over the years we’ve analyzed and reported on numbers such as average rent prices, average time on market, price per square foot, vacancy rates, and more. Throughout years and years of analysis, we’ve come to find that there are two indicators that are most reliable when it comes to assessing overall rental market health: Real-Time Vacancy Rate (RTVR) and Real Time Availability Rate (RTAR).
But what are the differences between the two? Simply put, Real Time Vacancy Rate (RTVR) is the percentage of apartments that are available now and are empty without tenants, and Real Time Availability Rate (RTAR) is the percentage of apartments that are available now PLUS those becoming available in the future. Therefore the aggregate percentage found in the Real Time Vacancy Rate (RTVR) will always be lower than the Real Time Availability Rate (RTAR). Through the use of the (RTAR) you can also predict the market direction in Boston with much more confidence by looking forward up to six months or longer.
Low RTVR will often trend along with low RTAR but can diverge and show future strength or weakness coming to the rental market. Greater Boston has a significant amount of rental product that is placed for rent many months in advance of the expiration of the lease. In fact some apartments often come to market for rent as far as almost one year in advance. The long notification lead times that are used in Boston to get properties rented have been optimized over many decades to match how the local Colleges and Businesses efficiently operate around a university and technology driven city. Each Year 68-72% of apartment leases expire on 8/31 at midnight, but many properties are often rented six months or more in advance.
Real Time Vacancy Rate (RTVR)
Total Number of Apartments in Bostonpads.com database / Total Number of Vacant Apartments = Real TimeVacancy Rate
The Real Time Vacancy Rate (RTVR) does in fact measure vacancy, but only in the present moment. It will tell you exactly what percentage of apartments are empty right now and available to move in right away. In a healthy rental market such as Greater Boston, this number usually is 3% or lower. Currently the RTVR is at one of the lowest percentages we have ever seen which is 0.75% and this means that we are experiencing an incredibly tight rental market where rents can continue to climb.
With a 0.75% vacancy rate landlords should not be vacant under almost every circumstance. With an incredibly tight rental market such as Boston with severely limited inventory due to the difficult hurdles of zoning and neighborhood groups, having a vacant apartment clearly shows the apartment is either overpriced or in need of renovation and/or repairs. Landlords try to avoid vacancies at all costs as it wreaks havoc Net Operating Income (NOI). Ideally, nearly all landlords try to fill a unit right after the previous tenant ends their lease. It doesn’t work out like this 100% of the time, but when housing is in high demand, it becomes much easier for landlords to keep their units filled. Any landlord that is currently experiencing a vacant apartment should consider discussing options with us to develop a cohesive 100% occupied apartment strategy.
A properly priced apartment in the Greater Boston Area should always rent within one week if the RTVR is under the 3% threshold. While the time to rent a property will vary based on neighborhood, condition of unit, weather and time of year, the overall principle remains true. A properly priced apartment should nearly always rent within one week. The key is having enough data points to provide correct rental comparisons to optimize the process and be helpful to both landlords and consumers. Often times the difference between success and failure of renting an apartment can be as tight as $50 per month. It’s important to get as much data as possible to set your proper pricing.
In a healthy Boston market, RTVR will hover between 2-4%, meaning 96-98 out of 100 apartments will be occupied and therefore only 2 to 4 out of 100 will be available for immediate move-in. The national average for vacancy rate is currently 7%. In Boston, that figure is much lower, and our data suggests it has been this way for over one decade, on account of high demand, incredibly low new supply, and a constant influx of new residents both national and international.
Lower Real Time Vacancy Rates (RTVR) put upward pressure on rent prices, which is why rent in Boston has soared to record highs over the past few years. Until Greater Boston figures out a way to produce about 30,000 units per year to match population growth and the draw of the city, expect prices to stay high and the RTVR to stay low. You can also expect further development on the edges of the city and surrounding towns near transportation hubs to accelerate when the price per square foot becomes disparate enough compared to traditional core Boston areas.
Real-Time Availability Rate (RTAR)
(Total Number of Currently Vacant Apartments + Total Number of Apartments Becoming Available in the Future) / Total Number of Apartments = Real TimeAvailability Rate
The Real-Time Availability Rate (RTAR) goes a step further at giving us future indicators of the economy and absorption of units. It’s a snap shot of what is coming, and for property owners with larger portfolios, they can start making proactive adjustments to rent pricing based on future data. RTAR takes the total number of apartments that are vacant right now, plus all of the apartments that are becoming vacant in the future, and divides that number by the total number of apartments.
This gives us a snapshot of the total percentage of apartments that will become available in the near future. Historically the (RTAR) that we have tracked will vary from 2% – 6.5% depending on the time of year and other factors. If we saw an (RTAR) greater than 7% it would be cause for concern of pricing power. If we see a RTAR higher than 4 percent going into August it can signal a potentially weakening market.
In any event, unrented units going into August generally start to see an erosion in pricing power, as many landlords decrease rental prices weekly in August to avoid vacancy. Experience through monitoring web traffic has indicated as high as an 80% decrease in apartment searches after 8/15 each year. Therefore it is important that landlords follow best practices based on the advice provided through the introspection of the data and competition currently in their marketplace.
Our current RTAR is 5.33% which looks to be healthy considering we are almost halfway into June. We expect this number to dip to about 4% by the first week in July. Stay tuned for future updates.
Effects On the Apartment Rental Market
The RTAR gives us not only an accurate snapshot of current market conditions, but it also predicts where the market is headed in the future. If we notice a low or average RTAR, but a higher than normal RTVR, we know that the apartment rental market could be in store for a correction. Conversely, a low RTAR combined with a low RTVR is a solid indicator that the market is strong, demand is high, and conditions should stay favorable for at least the foreseeable future.
This is the reason we developed the “Real-Time Availability Rate”, because landlords care much more about the future and current state of the market than past history. It’s important for property managers to consider both of these metrics, as it gives you a snapshot of not just present numbers but also future conditions.
These two data points provide us with a majority of the information we need to assess the apartment market in Boston. When the market sustains low combined RTAR an RTVR, there is strong historical evidence of high demand and low supply, and Econ 101 teaches us that landlords will raise their prices upward.
Here in Boston, we’ve seen extraordinarily low RTAR and RTVR over the past 8 years. During that time-span, rent prices have steadily climbed, overall inventory has still grown, and demand has never failed to match the growing supply. Because of this, Boston has become one of the fastest growing, highest rents and lowest vacancy rate real estate markets in the country.
Sharing Our Apartment Data With You
Here at Boston Pads, we’ve recently built an internal real time data feed that captures both of these data points for both RTAR and RTVR. We’ve done this for not just Boston as a whole, but every micro-market and neighborhood in and around the Greater Boston Area. We have over 161,000 apartments in our real time database and it provides a wealth of data that can be analyzed to help predict market trends and make informed decisions at the most minute levels. This allows us to report on data at a granular level, providing local insights that no other player can give, local or national.
Over the next few months, we plan to report on not only current numbers, but we will also track and analyze historical trends for all of Greater Boston. Our ultimate goal in doing this is to give landlords the data they need to minimize vacancies and maximize rental revenue and set proper price points. This data is a powerful tool for any property manager looking to maximize their ROI and make informed decisions. Overall, the benefits are huge to everyone because it helps properly price units to get rented more quickly so supply is better utilized as guesswork is eliminated.
Stay tuned to our blog and our network of 80 local websites for more detailed analysis of vacancy rates for nearly every local area in Greater Boston. If you’re a landlord in the Greater Metro Boston Area, be sure to list your apartment with us if you haven’t already. Once you do, you’ll have on-demand access to all of this data and the most powerful marketing tools available, saving you time and maximizing your revenue.
After days or weeks of searching, you finally find an apartment. It pretty much has all the amenities that you want plus it fits your budget, your lifestyle, and the proximity to your job. You waste no time filling out the application and turning it in expecting to get accepted immediately.
Except the apartment complex rejects your application. You feel disappointed and confused. How does that happen? Is there something in your background that spooks the apartment staff? Are you making enough money to afford the rent? Maybe you unknowingly made a mistake on the paperwork.
Regardless of the reasons, there are ways to increase your chances of getting approved. As a result, you will avoid or fix the mistakes that cause the rejection of your application and you will get your apartment in no time.
Check Your Credit Scores
This should be the first step before you even start looking for an apartment. Check to see if your credit scores are at least decent. Check for any outstanding collections and pay them off if you have them. Review your credit report for any errors. If there is an error, contact the credit bureau immediately to get it fixed.
If you have poor credit and you can’t fix it in time for the apartment search, be prepared to inform the property manager or landlord and explain why and how it happened. It is possible to get accepted despite your poor credit, but you may have to rely on either a co-signer or your roommate’s credit.
If you are a victim of identity theft, you must inform the manager about it and submit documentation that proves your identity. The Fair Credit Reporting Act protects identity theft victims and this protection extends to renting apartments.
The manager needs to know about it so that they won’t be surprised when they encounter a frozen credit file on your credit report. You will need to provide documents that can confirm your identity, such as driver’s license and utility bills mailed to your current address. They can ask you to approve a release through the credit bureau in order to obtain access to your report.
Fill Out the Application Completely and Accurately
Fill out the application completely and honestly as possible especially the required fields. If there are fields that do not apply to you, it would be best if you don’t leave them blank; just put N/A or not applicable instead.
Whatever you do, do not lie or misrepresent yourself on the application. If you think the manager will not find out, you are mistaken. They will conduct background check on you and when they discover you are not being truthful, you will get rejected.
The same goes for your roommate if you plan to have one. They have to fill out their own application in full and they have to be honest. Sloppy or missing information can cause the application’s processing to be delayed; false information can cause it to be rejected.
Submit all Requested Documents with the Application
Submit all the supporting documentation that the apartment complex is requesting. That includes proof of income, valid photo ID, rental history, and cover letter. A cover letter is useful when there are circumstances that may prevent you from getting the apartment, such as felony conviction and low credit scores. The letter should do a good job of explaining the circumstances and why the manager should give you a chance.
You obviously have to provide your proof of income to assure the property owner you make enough money to afford the rent. The most common types of proof of income are recent paycheck stubs, bank statements, tax returns, and/or W2s. There is a general guideline that you have to make at least three times the rent to qualify and either of these documents should prove this.
When receiving the application, find out exactly what supporting documents you need to provide. You may either request a checklist of the documentation from the staff or write up the list yourself. Either way, go over the list to ensure you have all the paperwork before turning in the application.
Pay the Fee
If you are working with a real estate company in Boston, chances are you going to pay an application fee so that the agent can pool all the necessary paperwork and required material together for proper processing.
Keep in mind the application fee will most likely be nonrefundable, so you probably won’t get the money back even if you don’t get the apartment. Another thing to keep in mind is that in Boston you will nearly always be required to provide a security deposit.
Filling out the apartment application is no brainer and these suggestions mentioned above may seem like common sense. However, getting it approved requires discipline and cooperation with the apartment staff. Believe it or not, many applicants fail to provide accurate and complete information whether they know it or not. They could have avoided making these mistakes and save themselves time and stress. When you submit the application correctly, it won’t be long before you will get the keys to your apartment stress-free.
For us renters in Boston, we are all familiar with how difficult it can be to find a place nowadays. With the influx of new residents over the past few years, options have been sparse to say the least, and it doesn’t appear it will get any easier.
I know, I know, Mayor Marty Walsh is adding tens of thousands of new units in inventory to the city to help us out right? Well that’s great if you can afford a $3000 luxury studio in Seaport, but for the 80% of us, we still need a place to live too, and not everyone is ok with jumping the train from Woburn every morning to get to their job in the city.
So what’s a renter to do?
Luckily, there’s still plenty of great places near the city that have availability right now, and utilizing our database of over 159,000 potential available apartments all over Greater Boston, we know if every single one of them is rented or vacant! Here’s 5 great neighborhoods in Boston that currently have a higher than 8% Availability rate (which believe it or not, is super high for Boston).
1. Eagle Hill – East Boston – 7.63% Availability Rate
East Boston is one of the hottest neighborhoods in Boston, and who wouldn’t love to land an apartment in historic Eagle Hill? Located minutes from downtown, residents enjoy easy access to the best that Boston has to offer. Check out available East Boston apartments in Eagle Hill here.
2. Mission Hill – Boston – 10.23% Availability Rate
Located just south of Fenway, Mission Hill is one of the more popular neighborhoods in Boston, and for good reason. Residents enjoy abundant local options for shopping and eating, and it’s located minutes from popular areas like the South End, Symphony, and Downtown. Given it’s close proximity to local Universities, apartment turnover is generally high here, so grab a nice apartment for rent in Mission Hill.
3. Northeastern/Symphony Area – Boston – 13.25% Availability
Also located close to nearby universities, apartments are always becoming available in this primely situated neighborhood. It’s not the cheapest neighborhood on this list by any means, but if you like the idea of being at the center of the action in Boston, Symphony has it all. Great shopping, incredible restaurants, cultural and historical attractions, you name it, Symphony’s got it. And at 13.25% Availability Rate, now’s the time grab a great apartment in Symphony!
4. Maverick – East Boston – 5.99% Availability Rate
Maverick is situated on the southwest corner of East Boston, adjacent to the Sumner Tunnel. It’s a small section that’s packed with great restaurants and nightlife, not to mention you could literally hit a golf ball into the North End from East Pier. It’s still relatively affordable, with the average 2 bedroom apartment costing $2191 per month. Did we mention how hot East Boston is right now? Check out all of our East Boston apartments here!
5. Allston – 8.11% Apartment Availability Rate
Located a short 10 minute drive from downtown, Allston embodies the small town charm of Boston. Residents have tons of great local options for eating and entertainment, and if they want they have access to a number of T Stations that will get them anywhere in the city in no time. Apartments in Allston are usually becoming available as the school season turns over, and right now their are plenty of units becoming available soon!
Can you name at least one challenge of living in a tiny apartment? Space or rather the lack of space. Sure, you’re saving money on rent since it is not as high as the one for a bigger apartment. But the tradeoff is living in a cramped space that makes it difficult to live comfortably. How can you enjoy living in your apartment when you can’t even walk around the furniture without constantly bumping into them? How can you have storage when you don’t even have enough room for shelves or drawers? You are having an interior design emergency and you’re trying to figure out how to make your living space feel big. You go through a list of possible solutions you can think of to solve this problem. That includes exchanging huge furniture for a small (or at least apartment-sized) furniture. While this solution is doable, there are other options you should consider to make your living space larger. Here are the following top 10 tricks to make your apartment look and feel nice and big.
1. Built-in storage
Your apartment may be too small to have a lot of storage, but this is not a cause for alarm. There are some furniture that comes with built-in storage. One perfect example is a bed with built-in storage. You can store blankets, sheets, and pillows underneath the bed instead of in the closet where they take up so much space. Another great example is a built-in sofa where you store your items while resting or watching TV. With the furniture, you don’t have to deal with cluttering due to lack of storage. You can purchase furniture that already comes with built-in storage at stores such as Ikea. Or you participate in the DIY project of adding storage to your existing furniture if you’re creative (and adventurous) enough. Built-in storage not only makes your space feels bigger, but it also makes it more organized as it solves the cluttering problem.
2. Creative furniture layout
Arranging furniture is one way to create more space and avoid bumping into them no matter which way you go. One way to do it is by creating separation between different rooms. For instance, you separate the living room from the dining room by arranging the chairs and sofa in a way that clearly outline the distinction of the rooms. This design trick is especially feasible in a studio apartment. Another way to make your space feel larger is not pushing your furniture against the wall. Yes, it may seem counterintuitive, but it will actually make your room feel more open with even a few inches of space between the wall and the furniture. The next trick may not involve furniture arrangement, but it can help with the space problem. Using furniture with exposed legs, like sofas, create more openings than the ones with holstered-covered legs. Thus, they are useful in making the room feel more spacious. Testing out different arrangements of your furniture helps to figure out the best layout for making tiny spaces not so tiny.
Mirrors do a great job of creating an illusion of space and adding style to your apartment. Larges one, especially, can add depth and dimensions when they reflect and enhance the light. The best places for the mirrors are either on white and well-illuminated walls; across from a window that let in natural light; or behind certain furniture such as a chest or an end table. Interior designers use mirrors in their work to give the illusion of space for many years. This goes to show you how effective the mirrors are in making your living space appear larger.
4. Paint in light (or dark) colors
Interior design experts always suggest painting walls with light colors to make tiny rooms look big. Light colors always do a great job of making the space feel bigger and more open. Painting the trim and walls in same color also does the trick. There is a question of whether you have to use light colors. The answer is basically no. Dark colors can work just as well as light colors if you use them correctly. For instance, you can add a light-colored furniture and accessories against a dark-colored wall. It will create more depth in the room, not making it look small.
5. Stripe décor
If you like stripes, you have one more reason to add it to the design of your living space. Striped rugs help expands the wall and making your room appear longer. You can also paint the stripes onto the walls. Horizontal stripes make the room look expansive while the vertical stripes make it feel taller. Painting light colored stripes to dark walls does the trick as well. Don’t worry if the stripes on the walls make your room look awful. If you use the right colors and execute the stripes properly, your home will look like it’s been featured on HGTV or Better Homes and Garden. In other words, you can’t go wrong with stripes.
6. Multi-purpose furniture
When living in a small space, you want your furniture to serve many purposes, making it easier for you to accommodate all your living needs. Multi-purpose furniture is cost effective in many ways. If your existing furniture serves its dual purpose, you don’t need to buy a new one. Even if you do need to make a purchase, it saves you money in the long run because you don’t need to buy separate furniture for each function. The best options include console table you can use as a desk and or a sleeper where you sit during the day and sleep during the night. Storage helps furniture and accessories providing many uses in your apartment. If you have a really small dining room, you don’t need chairs for seating; instead use a bench with storage. If you need something practical to hang items on the wall, you should use floating drawers instead of floating shelves. They store items both on top of the shelves and inside the drawers.
7. Natural and artificial lighting
Lighting has the greatest impact on interior design and if it’s done right, it can change the perception of a living space particularly making it feel larger than it is. There are ways to add lighting without taking up too much space or making it feel smaller. Desk lamps, wall scones, and floor lamps are just few of the lighting that can do the trick because they are either small, narrow, or both. Track lighting (if it comes with the apartment) provides beautiful light and takes up less space. If you’re into natural lighting or you just want to save energy and money on the utility bills, sun is another good option. It eliminates shadows that make a space feel small. If a mirror is placed across a window, it enhances the sun by reflecting it from a window. Your apartment will feel airy and open with enough sunlight beaming into it.
Curtains do many wonders to your space. They add style to a room. They block or filter out some of unwanted light. They protect your privacy. They make your living spaces feel roomier. How do they do that? The trick is to hang them higher than the window and it will give a room more height and dimension. If you want, you can take the curtains all the way to the ceiling. This technique is especially useful for rooms with low ceilings. It helps draw the eye upwards making the space look less cramped and the ceiling look high. What if you don’t want a curtain or can’t afford to get one? In this case, you should use either Roman shades or blinds. They make the room less crowded which leads to more space and you will have privacy simultaneously.
9. Create a focal point
Choose one aspect of a room to highlight something that is visually interesting. The eye will be drawn to this focal point immediately with less emphasis on the room’s small size. Some of the most common focal points that home owners and apartment tenants alike use are fireplace, a wall, and artwork. When using a wall as a focal point, you either paint it or cover it with a wallpaper or a wall décor. When using art to help draw in the focus, you can have one large art piece or you can have multiple artworks. Another idea to think about is placing different framed artwork and mirrors on a brightly colored wall. Whether you use many artworks only or mix them with other accessories, make sure they don’t clutter the wall and make it look messy.
A rug is a perfect accessory to make a room feel big while covering the floor and adding style. If possible, use a large rug that goes beyond the furniture. It makes the eye draw wider and make the living space appear big especially when you place it under a sofa, coffee table, and other furniture. A small rug, on the other hand, makes the space feel small or limited. You can also use multiple rugs in one space to separate one room into smaller spaces. As far as the type of designs a rug should have, stripes can definitely make a difference in how spacious your apartment looks. However, other designs can work as well.
With these top design tricks to make your living space feel larger, you’ll be relieved knowing you can make it work. If you are looking for your dream apartment and the one you really like does not have a lot of space, don’t worry about it. Giving up on a spacious floor plan is not a deal breaker. Instead use the small floor plan as an opportunity to put your creativity to use. You will not feel as cramped as you did before and you can live comfortably. Your place is small and yet it feels spacious. What’s not to like?
Being a landlord in Boston isn’t the easiest thing in the world. In many cases, it can seem as if Massachusetts law is stacked against you, especially when it comes to dealing with difficult tenants. That being said, when you do get a good tenant, it’s important you do everything in your power to retain them. So if you want your reliable tenants to stick around after their lease is up, then you need to know how to keep them happy. Here’s how you can do just that:
Whether its sending out a monthly newsletter, dropping a note in the mailbox, or even sending out a mass text, its important your tenants know what’s occurring, especially if it involves work being done or there is a problem on the property. In this case, a note may not be enough. Don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call each tenants when something is being done that they should know about. The more they are informed, the more trust you will build, thus be more likely to retain them when it’s time to resign the lease. If there is a large group of people living at the property, put them on one group text. Having a group text with all tenants on it helps with accountability and ease of property management. For example, if you have a multi-family property and there are two units but you keep noticing trash left outside or overfull barrels, finger pointing often occurs. One group of tenants will blame the other group of tenants and it can create a circular conversation of pain. One of the way to avoid the run around, is to put them all on one communication in both email and text, and respectfully request that everyone is responsible for the health and wellbeing of all parties involved. Overtime you will find that when a property manager or landlord increases transparency and leadership to any situation that things magically get much better. The bottom line is that tenants work better with you when they know like and trust you, and that is created through communicating more and staying impeccable with your word.
It’s also imperative that if you have service people coming over to fix or replace utilities that you have notified them of the time frame that they are coming over. Just saying they are coming over tomorrow isn’t enough. A great property or landlords tries to give the tightest window possible to the best of their abilities. It’s also important that you give the full name of the contractor, their company, and if possible send a picture along of what the person looks like that is coming over to service the request or work order. This adds a professional and personal touch that you care about your tenants.
2. Response Time Is Key
If there’s one thing that matters to tenants more than anything else, it’s the amount of time it takes you to get back to them when they have an issue. One of the top tenant complaints about landlords is that they take too long to respond. It does not matter how busy you are, or how difficult the repair may be. The most important thing is to let them know right away that you are aware of the problem, and that you are on top of it. This will reassure them, calm them down, and feel like they can rely on you. This is the most important element of your relationship with your tenants. You want them to feel like they can rely on you. If they do not, they will always be looking for another place where they can feel more secure.
Of course, actually fixing the problem as quickly as you can is just as important. Spending days without a refrigerator or worse, with a leaky roof, can easily be the last straw for a reliable renter. If they pay their rent on time, you should do everything in your power to make sure you provide repairs on time.
Speedy resolutions are not just for problems that your tenants have told you about. Boston winter means frequent snow. Your tenants will often have to get up early after a snowstorm to go to work or school. Whether you hire a snow removal company in Boston or do the work yourself, having the driveway and walkways cleared for them by the time they leave the house will be something they really appreciate.
One thing that tenants really appreciate is having multiple phone numbers to call or text in the event of an emergency. Gone are the days of just calling an office line that is only open 10-6pm for property management. A great landlord or property manager provides multiple points of contact in the event of an emergency. While that may seem common sense; this is not the case for some landlords. Always include at least two phone numbers and preferably three phone numbers on their lease that a tenant can call at any time. If you go on vacation or have some kind of medical condition that will keep you away from communicating effectively, make sure you declare the times and dates you will not be available, and who will be your main point of contact for the property during your absence. At the end of the day, it’s the little things you do that add up to happy tenants.
3. Be Proactive about Maintenance
Waiting until things break to repair them is a terrible way to approach property management. Even if you get the problem fixed in a timely manner, the experience can be unpleasant to the tenant, and you are probably paying more for the repair than you should. Make sure that you perform seasonal maintenance on heating and cooling systems, gutters and landscaping. Perform regular inspections on the roof, plumbing, and other systems. Every time a tenant moves out, it’s imperative that you do a thorough inspection and make sure the property is up to code and ready to be lived in. Being proactive about maintenance in this manner will help you catch small, inexpensive problems before they become large, expensive repairs. It will also help give your tenants the impression of an orderly, well-maintained property, and show them that they can rely on you.
4. Embrace Technology
As more and more millennials enter the workforce, you will find that the needs of your tenants will begin to shift. Not many millennials own a checkbook, and many prefer rental arraignments where they can communicate with you and make payments from a computer or smart phone. It won’t be a bad idea to start to embrace this technology now, and develop systems now that will help you in the future. There are many web applications and prop-tech tools you can use to make it easier on your tenants to report issues, pay their rent, and schedule repairs. Want to start getting greater rent from your properties? Start thinking about security and convenience features that older or less maintained properties do not have. Heated driveways seems to be gaining significant popularity in the Greater Boston Area because the tenants do not have to worry about moving their car out onto the street so that plowing can occur in the driveway. Often times tenants have to shovel their car out, to get it out of the driveway, so that the plow truck can do it’s job and shape it into a proper location within the footprint of the property. Adding in Alexa enabled lights and security features is a huge hit now with tech savvy tenants.
5. Create a Sense of Community
For property managers and landlords that own a large number of units in a local area, this is something they can use was a tool to create comradely between tenants. Residents are much more likely to stay if they have relationships built with the neighborhood, so a smart landlord will do good to try to foster this kind of community mentality. Don’t be afraid to splurge for a monthly resident BBQ or even hire a food truck to come by to serve the residents. By your residents interacting and building relationships, your increasing your likelihood of them coming back when the lease it up.
Bottom line is a happy tenant equals a happy landlord. Ok, let me amend that…a happy good tenant means a happy landlord. By abiding by these 5 rules, any landlord can keep there tenants happy. Not only will you see higher higher tenant retention, they might also recommend your rental properties to friends and family. Doing everything you can to keep your tenants happy might not always be easy or convenient, but in the long run it will pay off.
It’s no secret rent prices have gotten to be outrageous in some areas of Boston. Between the droves of new residents moving in, the endless flow of new luxury buildings being built, and the super low vacancy rates, it’s a perfect recipe for soaring rent prices.
Many of the areas on the outskirts of town are still semi-affordable, but if you’re looking to live close to the core areas of in Boston, be prepared to pay a premium to do so. You’ll see that this list is comprised of mostly neighborhoods very close to downtown. That being said, there are areas even outside of Boston such as North Brookline and Harvard Square where rent prices are just as high as these 5 neighborhoods in the city.
It’s important to note that these figures purposely exclude large luxury building listings to provide the absolute highest level of accuracy. We really drill down to the smallest landlords and use the widest possible points of data to generate this data. We specifically looked at regular apartments for rent that are not encapsulated in one giant self-ecosystem called a luxury building. Finding exact vacancy rates or exact rental prices in luxury buildings often is a daunting task. Now take a deep breath, make sure you’re seated, and let’s look at the 5 most expensive neighborhoods in Boston proper.
When we reported on the average rent prices by town back in 2017, Back Bay was the most expensive place in town. It has yet to be dethroned, as it still boasts the highest average rent price for a 3 bedroom apartment at a whopping $4,908, and the second highest average for a 2 bedroom apartment at $3,696. The bottom line, if you want to live in the Bay Back, get ready to open your wallet up and pay
Think you can save by renting a 1 bedroom in Back Bay? Be prepared to spend on average $2,618 per month. Current real-time availability rates are at 4.48%, so it’s slim pickings in this posh and vibrant part of town. Out of 2,680 apartments (non-luxury buildings) in our database, only 120 are either available or becoming available by 9/1/19. So that signals a very healthy job market and slim pickings for options.
Located very close to Back Bay is the beautiful and always trendy Beacon Hill. Full of charming brick brownstones and lined with beautiful cobblestone streets, there’s so much to love about this historic place. Prices for a 3 bedroom apartment in Beacon Hill are fetching an outrageous $4,212 per month on average. For a 2 bedroom, be prepared to pay $2,960 per month to call yourself a resident of Beacon Hill.
The South End has become one of the coolest places in town, chock full of great restaurants and artsy culture. If you’re thinking of getting an apartment here, get ready to shell out about $3,358 for a 2 bedroom unit on average. 3 bedroom apartments are getting $3,974 per month on average.
Looking to save by renting a studio? Look somewhere else. South End has the second highest average price per studio apartment at $2005 per month. The only thing harder than paying rent in the South End is finding an available apartment. With 1923 South End apartments in our database, only 75 are available or becoming available in the next 12 months as of today, giving it a 6.88% real-time availability rate.
Symphony is situated in a prime location, right next to Northeastern University and within walking distance to some of the best shopping and entertainment in town. Average rent prices for a 3 bedroom apartment in Symphony are getting $4045 per month on average at this moment, and renters are paying $3237 per month on average for a 2 bedroom. Yikes!
Even a 1 bedroom apartment in Symphony is averaging $2,648 per month. The good news is if you can afford an apartment in Symphony, there are plenty becoming available due to it’s close proximity to some of Boston largest colleges and universities. Apartments in close proximity to numerous colleges tend to have a much higher turnover rate as students tend to be very transient and move quite a bit because of both school and future work opportunities. Symphony has a 13.70% availability rate, with 257 apartments slated to become available in the next year out 1,876 total apartments in our database. Therefore, while it is expensive, if you hunt a little bit longer and harder in this location you can find a better deal if you work diligently on market timing.
Fenway is a small neighborhood with big rent prices. This tiny piece of Boston is full of local hotspots and fun things to do, not to mention the boys of summer are always within walking distance. While a ticket at Fenway won’t cost you much, renting an apartment here will. The average rent for a 2 bedroom apartment in Fenway is $2920 per month. A 3 bedroom split between roommates won’t save you much, as the average rent is $3,795 per month. There aren’t a lot of 4 bedroom choices either; so if you happen to see a 4 bedroom with a lower price than 1200 per bedroom; jump on it!
Located next to Boston University and other Fenway area colleges, apartments tend to have a higher turnover in Fenway similar to Symphony. Out of 3079 units in our immense database, there are over 344 that are either currently available or becoming available in the next 12 months. You can see all of these apartments in Fenway here.
While these areas are the most expensive in Boston, there are plenty others both in town and out of town that deserve to be mentioned here. Areas nestled around Boston University, Longwood, Davis Square, North Brookline, and Harvard Square are all fetching enormous rent prices at the moment. Even inside the city, Downtown, West End, North End, and Bay Village are all getting similar rent prices as those listed above.
Here’s a chart that breaks down rent prices and availability at the present moment: