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Brookline’s Vacancy Rate Drops Below Pre-Pandemic Level

Brookline has historically been one of the strongest suburban rental markets in Greater Boston.  All that flew out the window during COVID-19, when the vacancy rate for Brookline apartments soared to over 9% in October of 2020.  To put that in perspective, Brookline’s vacancy rate peaked at 1.66% prior to the pandemic in September of 2019. 

Since the Boston rental market’s historic rebound began in 2021, Brookline’s vacancy rate has since shrunk down to 0.59%, and has officially surpassed its previous all time low set in late August 2019 (0.61%).  Brookline’s vacancy rate typically hits a yearly low in late August like it does in most of Greater Boston neighborhoods.  With 5 months remaining until late August, apartment occupancy will undoubtedly shatter its previous record and could approach the 100% mark. 

Apartment availability is a good predictor of future market performance, as it measures not just those apartments that are empty, but also those that are available for rent at a later date but still occupied.  Brookline’s current availability rate is 4.02%, even lower than its pre-pandemic level of 4.25% in late March 2019.  This indicates that rental demand hasn’t diminished in Brookline and if anything, may be even stronger than before.

All of these supply figures point to one glaring issue: there aren’t enough apartments in Brookline to meet growing demand.  As development projects were halted or slowed during the pandemic, the city fell even further behind the growing needs of renters in Boston.  The city desperately needs an injection of affordable housing to keep rent prices in check.  City Hall’s policy should shift away from rent control, which will deter developers and investors from creating more rental inventory, and shift towards adding more affordable housing units that the city so desperately needs. 

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