Housing Rental Crisis in Boston
보스톤코리아  2011-08-01, 16:13:35 
GaYoung Kim
Translated by SeungYoun Woo

“It was a bad idea to rent a house after seeing it for myself. Even if I want to pay a premium to rent a room, there is not any available one at all. I used to require many different kinds of conditions for a room but now I am just satisfied with the one near a T station,” said Jae-In Lee, who is entering Suffolk Law School and has been looking for a studio for the past month.

It is hard to find reasonable rents. Rents have been drastically inflated. Rent increase is not making a big fuss when it comes about this time every year. According to the Boston Globe, the median price rent recently reached $1,665 a month in Boston for September 1st occupancy. The vacancy rate is 4.4%, which is the lowest in the past 10 years.

Considering last year’s vacancy rate, 6.2%, the rate has dropped very rapidly. The problem is worse in some neighborhoods such as Back Bay and Beacon Hill. The vacancy rate there is 1.2 % and the average fee for a 2 bedroom apartment is around $2,658, according to RentalBeast.com.

“Last year, we received an 80-90% commission from house owners but this year is totally different. This means that supply does not meet demand,” answered Deuk-Han Son from Canaan Real Estate, when asked about the actual marketing situation.

Seo-Jin Park from Spark Realty Group also said, “We have contracted September move-in apartments starting from April and now, most of the sales have been closed already. For example, there will not be any available room around Copley station until November.”

Kun-Wook Lee, who moved to Boston 3 days ago after graduating high school in Toronto, said he tried to get a studio in Boston for around $1,100, thinking about the average market price in Toronto. “I gave up looking for a studio. I’m now looking for a 1 bedroom in Brighton or Somerville, costing around $1,400. I don’t know what to do since the only available rooms right now are just horrible to live in, and they do not meet my expectations at all,” complained Lee.

This reality is a surprise not only to tenants but also to owners. Ye-Jin Ha, who put a 1 bedroom apartment in Allston on the market for rent through BostonKorea.com early this week, surprisingly said, “I posted and ad for the room without any pictures but just my e-mail address, but 8 people reached me just in 5 hours. Among them, 6 people came to see the room, and I could contract with one right away on that day.”

How did this happen? The real estate experts said this is happening because “many people, who cannot pay back their mortgage, are selling their houses and moving into apartments. Also, the decreasing price for houses results in students renting apartments rather than buying houses.”

Moreover, the number of graduate students in Boston has increased rapidly to 20,000 in past 10 years; this is also one of the causes of the rental crisis. The fact that Boston has the fifth highest realty prices in the United States obviously has a reason.

However, it is not that there is nothing we can do about this problem. Seo-Jin Park from Spark Realty Group recommends “lower your expectations.” “It is sad to see people insist on renting apartments that are new buildings with security facilities, just thinking about Korean style apartments.

It is hard to find a perfect residence that meets one’s expectations without having a higher budget,” added Park, wishing people would face up to reality. Hyun-Jung Kim from Douglas Paul Real Estate said, “I see some people come in with unprepared documents and miss the opportunity to get rooms in an instant.” She especially recommended that students bring their I-20s, passports and checks all the time.

Additionally, Susan Ahn from New Star Real Estate said, “It a wise idea to consider moving in the winter when the rental fee is relatively lower than in the summer. These days, the price is all up to the sellers. Ahn once again emphasized to not hesitate to sign a contract when there is an available room that is very favorable, even if it requires a broker’s commission.

ⓒ 보스톤코리아(http://www.bostonkorea.com), 무단전재 및 재배포 금지
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