Boston Real Estate Boom Makes Short-Term Rentals Appealing

The real estate market continues to heat up nationwide. But Boston is among a handful of cities where interest rates are low, rents are sky high, confidence is up, and inventory is exceptionally scarce.

Boston Magazine referred to Beantown’s market as “suddenly red-hot,” noting that Boston’s housing market (like those in New York and San Francisco) took less of a hit than in other parts of the country. Now with rents on the rise (up 6.4 percent in the last year alone), many are hoping to become homeowners instead of renters.

But it’s not that simple. There’s not enough inventory to go around for all interested buyers, a situation which is made even more competitive by the flurry of developers who are looking to make a quick profit through flips or rentals.

Boston.com just released an article showing home sales are continuing to accelerate in Greater Boston. In fact, a new Zillow survey reported that homes in the fall of 2013 stayed on the market for only 77 days—moving 7 percent faster than last year. What’s more, experts don’t expect improvement any time soon in the shortage of properties for sale in the Boston area. Construction of new homes and condos alike is failing to keep pace with the escalating demand in and around the city.

Furnished Apartments Offer an Affordable Solution

What’s a prospective Boston homebuyer to do? In some cases, an interim solution is in order. NY1 recently reported that “furnished apartments can fill unique housing needs,” noting that the hot real estate market has opened the floodgates to short-term rentals as well.

Some might find themselves turning to a temporary furnished apartment if they’re between homes, having sold one property before they’ve been approved to buy the next one. Others in Boston are relying on furnished apartments to help bridge the gap between being ready to buy and being able to land their dream home amidst the housing market acceleration.

NY1’s Monica Brown explained that monthly rentals offer several advantages to soon-to-be homebuyers. They provide a short-term stay opportunity without the commitment of signing a long-term lease, or the expense of a hefty broker’s fee. Short-term rentals also allow much more flexibility than other housing options. Guests can tailor their stay for a month, a half-year, or longer depending on their individual needs and how quickly their own home becomes available.

Temporary furnished apartments also offer home seekers a lower-priced alternative to pricey hotel stays. USA Today listed Boston among four cities with the highest hotel rate hikes nationwide.

Hotel Price Hikes in Boston Send Travelers Scurrying for Short-term Rentals

If you’re a traveler in the Northeast, it’s hard not to notice that the hotels in Boston are pricey. A recent report in USA Today pegged Boston as one of the four cities with the biggest hotel rate increases in 2012. The average daily rate hovers around $158 per night—significantly higher than the national average of $106 per night. Climbing hotel taxes in Boston are partly to blame.

The average rate is one thing, but if you’re curious just how expensive it can get to stay in a hotel in Boston with more space and a few amenities, hold on to your hat. The Boston Business Journal found luxury and five-diamond rating hotels ran anywhere from $2,000 to $8,000 per night—and that’s before taxes.

What do you get for your money? In some cases, not much more than two bedrooms, two baths, and a view of Boston Common. That’s why travelers in increasing numbers are turning to temporary furnished apartments in Boston for an alternative to expensive hotel stays.

Providers of corporate apartments and other short-term rentals in Boston can offer more bang for your buck. While not all temporary housing providers offer equal service and amenities, some have been proven by industry standards to stand out above the rest.

Furnished Quarters, for example, was awarded a Platinum Award from CARTUS Global Network for the last three consecutive years, based on outstanding innovation and customer service. This provider of temporary furnished apartments goes above and beyond with both living space and amenities, at prices on average 30% to 50% less than comparable hotels.

The residences at Furnished Quarters are more reminiscent of life at home than life on the road. Fully furnished bedrooms and baths are created by an in-house design team that pays attention to the details—from furniture to wall décor and housewares. It makes staying in these apartments surprisingly different, with a distinct local flavor.

These apartments are no secret in Boston. The company reported nearly 100% occupancy of its Massachusetts-based properties during heavy vacation months in 2012, and this summer, these unique residences promise to be equally popular with travelers.

Boston Furnished Rental Apartments – Where to Stay

Whether you have travel on your mind, an upcoming business trip, or a move planned to the Northeast, there are many reasons to get to know Boston and its furnished rental apartment market. As the capital of Massachusetts and the largest city in New England, Boston offers something for corporate travelers and vacationers alike.

Some describe Boston as a city of contradictions: it’s as hip as it is historic, and as charming as it is sophisticated. Some come to explore Boston’s past as one of the oldest cities in the United States and the scene of several key events in the American Revolution. Others come to enjoy the metropolitan offerings of one of the country’s top urban destinations, including world-class dining, shopping, and museums. Boston is also home to more than 100 colleges and universities.

For those looking for temporary furnished housing in the Boston area, it helps to understand Boston’s many neighborhoods. The city is divided into 23 distinct neighborhoods that offer a range of experiences and personalities depending on the reason for your visit.

Financial District

If you’re on a business trip or are just looking for bustle, downtown Boston has what you need. This vibrant financial hub is teeming with boutiques and department stores, restaurants and parks. When your workday is done, you can take in the neighboring Boston Harbor, stroll along the Boston Common, or try out a famous restaurant, such as Cheers.

Back Bay and South End

For a more vintage feel, check out the Back Bay neighborhood, which features a wide range of unique vintage homes, unique shops, and quaint cafés. The South End is Boston’s Landmark District, where you’ll find majestic Victorian homes and picturesque row houses, as well as trendy art boutiques and “Restaurant Row” on Tremont Street.

Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill, adjacent to Boston Common, is considered one of the most desirable historic neighborhoods in Boston. It’s known for its brick sidewalks and narrow, gas-lit streets. The Massachusetts State House is located at the top of the hill.

When it comes to places to stay in Boston, this is the tip of the iceberg. Learn more about Boston’s neighborhoods and available short-term rentals at www.furnishedquarters.com—we have your visit covered.

No Pets for Macallen Building Renters

Caution to pet owners who are looking to rent an apartment in the Macallen Building, South Boston’s premier green building boasting 140 units with luxury amenities. Building management of the ultra-luxury Gold LEED certified development that was introduced to Boston in 2007 refuses pets for renters based on policies in the HOA’s condominium documents.

Recently, there have been apartments for rent at the Macallen Building that had inaccurate listing details, implying to potential renters that pets are allowed, yet following a standard review process by building management of all renters, the no pet policy for renters becomes explicit.

It’s quite common for condominium developments throughout Boston to have some sort of pet policy in place, oftentimes limiting the number and/or size of pets that are allowed on site, however, the differentiation between owners and renters at a particular building and disparate policies for each is perhaps less common.

Another Craigslist Apartment Rental Scam

A thrash of apartment rental scams that seemed to begin popping up in 2009 and 2010 have reappeared, and this time, scam artists are targeting luxury Boston rental apartments.

A reader contacted us recently inquiring whether the rental dialogue that they were having with a purported condo owner at Trinity Place, the luxury condo development located at 1 Huntington Avenue adjacent to Copley Square, was legitimate. The reader was kind enough to forward one of the emails they received from the scam artist, which advertises a penthouse duplex available at Trinity Place for rent. The only catch, the owner requests upfront cash through Google checkout before the potential renter can even so much as see the unit.

For some many reasons this is wrong, however, one interesting note is that there are no duplexes at Trinity Place, and further, the penthouse level of Trinity Place, is composed of two separate grand units that are owned by the same individual.

To make readers aware what this scam looks like, we are publishing the email thread between the potential renter (name has been removed) and the scam artist below.

Trinity Place Boston Craigslist Apartment Rental Scam

From: Christy Patton
Date: Tue, Jun 14, 2011 at 5:36 PM
Subject: Re: 3 Bedroom 3 Bath Super Luxury Penthouse Duplex – $2899/month (Boston)

Hi, My name is Christy, I am 32 years old and I’m an interior designer.
I apologize for the delay! The apartment is ready for moving in. The address is 1 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02116.

About the viewing, I am really looking forward to meeting you and to get to know you better before renting the apartment to you, but before that I will need to be sure that you are committed to rent it and that you can afford to pay for the rent. Please don’t get me wrong, but I have been disappointed a couple of times before by people who made me arrange a viewing and in the end proved themselves to be nothing but time wasters as they tried to convince me to lower the monthly rent and stuff like that. Every time I made the trip to Boston for nothing wasting both time and money. I will be taking care so that won’t happen again.

Because of that I have decided to go on with this only through GoogleCheckout. They have a program called Letting Protection. It was created especially for these types of situations, like ours, when it’s difficult to meet. They can take care about the viewing and the payment and they are offering assistance and protection for both, landlord and tenant.

If you decide to go on with renting the place I will need some information in order to set up the rental transaction with GoogleCheckout. Please let me know your full name, full address – I will be needing this for the contract – your age, married/children, occupation, car/pet, how many people will move in, when are you planning to move in and how long do you want to stay. As soon as I will have this info I will forward it to GoogleCheckout and they will get back to you with all the necessary details to follow in order to proceed with the rental process.

Let me know if there is anything else you want to know about the apartment.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Boston Apartment Rental Market Breaks from Norm

I hate to say it, but summer is winding down and September 1st is just around the corner, Boston’s biggest apartment turnover day. Every year, thousands of college students and professionals move to new apartments on the 1st of September, but with the economy on edge, this year’s market is far from normal.

Typically, students start looking for their September 1st apartments beginning in January. Over the years, landlords have grown accustom to this trend and the expectation is that the majority of their apartments will be rented by June. This year, the apartment rental market has been strong, but it has been apparent that renters have really been doing their homework and taking their time. Renters have been looking at more apartments and spending more time weighing options. Early in the season, this left landlords worried, and when July hit and they still had excess inventory, some landlords were starting to worry that their apartments would be left vacant for the  next leasing year.

Thankfully (for landlords), the market has been very busy over the last month and Boston apartments are renting at a record pace. After speaking to several prominent area landlords and real estate professionals in the Back Bay, South End, and Fenway, it appears that they are all on pace to meet their historical vacancy rates of sub 5%.  Despite the break from routine, landlords are happy with the last minute rush.

For those still scrambling to find a unit for September 1, 2010, don’t worry, some (picked over) inventory still remains, and with landlords anxious to fill units, Boston renters are in a position to negotiate fees and other items.

Non-Newspaper Ways to Find Boston Apartments

There are many ways to find the best apartment, whether to rent or to buy. Here we’re going to talk about five non-newspaper ways to find Boston apartments. Finding an apartment in Boston is not always easy, with inventory sometimes turning very fast. Most people will immediately turn to the newspaper when searching for apartments for rent, but there are many other ways through which you can get a nice apartment that matches your needs, desires and budget. Here are just a handful of the ways you can find the perfect apartment without ever opening up another newspaper.

1. Brokers: You might be aware that there are many broker agencies that work with apartments for rent, oftentimes housing a team of specialists within the brokerage that focus solely on rentals. You can get help from them and they’ll assist you in finding something that is perfect for your needs. Keep in mind that they will oftentimes charge for their services – oftentimes not directly, but indirectly. If you have a budget to afford it, then you can easily get an apartment that has everything you need. This is a great option if you simply don’t have the time to carry out the hunt entirely on your own. They’ll search for you and you’ll only spend time going to look at apartments for rent when they find one that seems to be just what you’re looking for – in terms of budget, needs, location and amenities you’d like to have.

2. Word-of-mouth: Always keep your ears open when you’re on the hunt for an apartment. You can ask your colleagues if they know of any and ask them to also keep an ear out for you. They can contact their neighbors and if something comes up, you’ll find new opportunities you would have possibly never known about before. You will be surprised to know that this way you will be able to save lots of money as well, as you will more than likely not have to pay a broker’s fee.

3. Walking around Boston: Do you have an idea of the area you would like to live in? If so, get out and spend some time walking around in that area. Many times, owners place for rent signs in the windows of a brownstone or rowhouse, or on the gates surrounding a larger complex.

4. Housing offices: Find out what kind of local housing offices and services there are. You may be surprised at the deals you can find through these kinds of organizations. For instance, the Boston Housing Authority has several resources available. If you’re a college student, then you may want to contact the office of student housing at your institution.

5. Boston apartment referral services: These services aren’t particularly well known, but they are growing in popularity. They’re especially helpful if you are searching for apartments for rent on the Internet. The Internet is the perfect way to connect you to any area and you can find websites that offer specialized services to help you find an apartment in a distant area – ideal for students moving into an area of the city that they are not at all familiar with as new transplants. These sites will let you look for apartments based on various features like budget, location, area, number of bedrooms and other amenities.

Why September 1st Boston Rentals are so Common

If you’ve searched any Boston apartment website in the past few weeks, or even months, you’re bound to have run into several apartments for rent with leases that start on September 1, 2010 . So what gives, you’re asking? Why are there rentals for September already and hardly any rentals yet for June, July, or August?

The answer is that a majority of Boston landlords try to accommodate the school schedule by having leases start/end right around the September 1st date in order to attract undergrads, grads, and employees from one of the thirty colleges here in Boston. With more supply and demand for rentals on this schedule – and the turnover that comes with students who graduate, move, and/or switch apartments – it should come as no surprise that these rental listings are posted as early as February to attract the eager crowd.

Another reason for the focus on September 1st apartment leases in Boston is students are often out of the city during the summer and therefore can’t look at apartments during the summer. This means that going by the industry standard lease up time of 30-45 days prior to move in can’t apply to these renters as they need to start looking in May at the latest. Since the rest of the summer months don’t tend to apply to this school schedule, the advanced notice from residing tenants is not needed as the apartments are unlikely to be rented to students, hence the reason you don’t see as many rental listings posted yet for these (summer) months.

If you are looking for a Boston apartment rental for move in during any other month but September, I would suggest starting your search 30-45 days prior to your move. If you are looking to move in September, you can start as soon as you’d like, but get a move on it if you’re looking for an apartment near BU, Northeastern, Berklee or Boston Conservatory, they’re renting quickly!

Craigslist, Rental Properties, and Listing Scams

Ah, Craigslist: Everyone’s go-to web resource for obscure knick-knacks, used furniture, job prospects and rental properties. In a post recently published on Unplgged, the tech-savvy branch of the DIY abode blog Apartment Therapy, tips and tricks are outlined for those looking to sell their stuff on the multi-city classifieds site. These pointers focus primarily on good, modest photography that showcase your hand-me-down wears at their best, and in their surroundings, in order to sway potential buyers. If detailed photos and descriptions are good for hawking your used furniture, why not apply the same logic to apartments and rental properties?

The Unplgged post led to us pondering Craigslist and its relationship with real estate in general. It’s easy to come up with a correlation between the user-generated postings and real estate listings on Craigslist, while making note of how the Unplugged tips can apply to real estate agents that need a little something extra for their listings. Listing properties on Craigslist can be a quick, cheap and easy way to syndicate a real estate listing and get it exposure not otherwise provided by a region’s Multiple Listing Service. A simple “FOR RENT” post for an apartment or home can provide just the boost a property needs to get it rented or sold.

But, with all good things free and easy comes temptation for abuse. In a post published last summer on Canonfire entitled Scammin’, it’s pointed out that finding real ads amidst the con artistry can prove to be a difficult task for consumers. In the post, three scams are exposed and it explains how these scams are designed to take advantage of would be renter’s who are just trying to find a place to live. Here’s a look at the top 3 Craigslist rental scams:

  1. Scam number 1 is a rental ad that contains no name, phone number or property location and the only means of contact is an email address. When a potential renter inquires about the property they are asked to fill-out a rental application, send it back, and then they will receive more property information …but they never do. This type ad is usually a “phishing” attempt to get personal information, including a social security number, on a rental application for a property that does not exist.
  2. Scam number 2 appears to be an ad to lease an actual home, but instead, is a ploy to get renters to move in a home that is pending foreclosure. In this case, the individual placing the ad pockets rental money without paying their mortgage company …all the while, the home is in foreclosure proceedings and the renter will be evicted once the foreclosure is final.
  3. Scam number 3 is an ad to rent a property for an unbelievably low price. When those seeking to rent call they are connected with a rental agency that induces them into paying $170+/- for a “list” that has addresses of several unbelievably priced properties. Needless to say, the addresses for the unbelievably low priced rental properties do not exist or the properties were conveniently rented as soon as the list was delivered.

In an age where people prefer to tweet their thoughts or click a “Like” button on Facebook in order to form an opinion, websites like Craigslist are fast becoming a go to source for listing agents and renters, as well as Internet predators looking to take advantage of the naive. Thus, when using such sites to find bargains or list properties, all users should probably use caution since this is a medium that has been associated with scam artists. The Latin Phrase “Caveat Emptor”, meaning Let the buyer beware, has never rang more true.

Christopher Columbus Plaza Rentals Flourish in North End

Christopher Columbus Plaza Apartments (CCP), located at 145 Commercial Street in Boston’s North End,  is today flourishing as one of the largest rental-only buildings in the North End. With various one and two bedroom floorplans ranging from $1,900 to $3,000, CCP dares to be different from typical North End apartments.

For starters, the smallest floorplan is a 680 square foot one-bedroom, while there are numerous two-bedroom apartments in the area that can’t stack up to that size. To help put this into perspective, I recently showed a one-bedroom apartment in the North End that was 350 square feet – almost half the size of CCP’s.

What really sells people on this building is the outdoor space. The private courtyard, roof deck and balconies allow renters to spend time outside without having to leave the property. And did I mention that there are terrific views of Boston Harbor? This pet friendly, no brokerage fee building also includes heat, hot water, electric, and gas in the rent, while most North End apartments tend to leave these costs to the renter.

With pricing comparable to most rentals in the area, Christopher Columbus Plaza Apartments are truly a diamond in the rough.

Christopher Columbus Plaza Courtyard

Christopher Columbus Plaza Sun Room with Views

Christopher Columbus Plaza Living Room

Christopher Columbus Plaza Roof Deck