Boston's tight rental market has opened a new chapter: bidding wars

A  “For Rent” sign outside the front of a house in Cambridge. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A “For Rent” sign outside the front of a house in Cambridge. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR's daily morning newsletter, WBUR Today. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here

We’re keeping our head on a swivel for the bear that’s been roaming around Arlington and Lexington (and maybe Newton), but at least there are no more school delays because of it today.

To the news:

This is not breaking news: apartments in the Boston area are expensive. According to Boston Pads, the average rental price in the city topped $3,000 for the first time ever this month (and that data excludes luxury apartments). Now as the rental market heats up even more ahead of the big Sept. 1 lease turnover, WBUR’s Amy Sokolow reports a new trend is taking hold: bidding wars. That’s right — not just for homes, but for rentals.

  • The numbers: One recent analysis found 5% of Boston-area rentals tracked last month went for “over-asking” by as much as $400 or $500, The Boston Globe reported on Sunday. In one zip code along the Green Line Extension in Somerville, the percentage was nearly 14% this spring, according to
  • Why? First, there’s the region’s now-infamous housing shortage. But there’s a second factor: interest rates. Boston Pads CEO Demetrios Salpoglou told Sokolow rising mortgage interest rates has forced would-be homebuyers to remain renters, leading to a near-record-low apartment inventory. “It’s a tight market,” he said. “I don’t think any of this is going to change anytime soon.”
  • In the market for a Sept. 1 lease? Salpoglou says to search intensely over the next couple days and make a quick decision. The last big push of apartments come on the market between now and July 1. The pickings only get slimmer after that.
  • Know someone moving to Boston? Be sure to send them this checklist to help them get settled once their housing is locked down.

Hey, Hull residents — did you miss your chance to vote during last month’s local election? Now’s your second chance. After a six-alarm fire blocked traffic to the town’s only polling place for 90 minutes during the May 15 election, Hull officials are reopening the polls for two hours this evening in order to complete the election.

The Red Line’s new normal: Prepare for a brief but disruptive shuttle bus interlude if you’re riding the Red Line’s Braintree branch late at night this week. Riders will have to hop off the train and take shuttles between JFK/UMass and North Quincy starting at 8:45 p.m. each night through Thursday. And it will be the same routine on weekday nights next week and the week after that as well.

Save the date: This year’s sales tax holiday in Massachusetts will likely be the weekend of Aug. 12-13, according to Senate President Karen Spilka. Lawmakers are set to vote Thursday to make it official.

P.S.— Roger Payne, the local biologist whose recording of whale songs energized the “Save the Whales” movement and pushed Congress to pass the Marine Mammal Protection Act, died at his home in Vermont last Saturday at the age of 88. WBUR’s Barbara Moran interviewed Payne about his life work last summer. In case you missed it, listen to the interview (and Payne’s recordings) here.


Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



More from WBUR

Listen Live