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Greater Boston rents continue to rise, and at a faster clip

Just in time for the mad rush to secure Sept. 1 apartments, some bad news for renters — average Boston area rents over the spring months increased at the quickest pace in three years.
Just in time for the mad rush to secure Sept. 1 apartments, some bad news for renters — average Boston area rents over the spring months increased at the quickest pace in three years.(Bill Greene/Globe Staff/File)

Just in time for the mad rush to secure Sept. 1 apartments, some bad news for renters: Average Boston-area rents over the spring months increased at the quickest pace in three years.

The average rent in Greater Boston for the second quarter of the year hit $2,187, up more than 4 percent compared with the same period last year, according to data from the real estate firm Reis Inc. Last year at this time, rents grew by just 2 percent year over year.

The Boston-area average for April, May, and June was the highest quarterly increase — compared with the first three months of the year — among the 79 major metro markets tracked by Reis. Nationwide, the average rent in those markets for the second quarter was $1,337.

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Job growth is driving much of the persistent growing demand for apartments in the region, said Carlina Nabatoff, co-owner of Abundant Real Estate Group in Cambridge, which rents properties in communities north and west of Boston, including Cambridge and Somerville. More than half of her clients this year are worker relocations from out-of-state or overseas, she said.

“They’re renting a lot of our higher-end properties — single-family, larger apartments with three to five bedrooms,” Nabatoff said, adding that her firm just rented a single-family home in Medford for about $6,000 a month, a record price for the city. “Those places have really gone up [in popularity], mostly because the companies are paying the expenses.”

And competition for such rentals is more heated than ever. A new listing for a two-bedroom in Cambridge’s Inman Square — at about $3,000 — has already generated five showings and three applications, Nabatoff said.

But rents are not rising across the board. The escalation has seemingly stopped — or at least slowed — for some older units that have not had kitchen or bathroom renovations, and particularly for apartments that are not near MBTA stations, Nabatoff said. Those units are not renting as fast or for as much money as they once did. For instance, a newly vacant unit in West Cambridge that recently commanded $2,400 monthly rent is now available for $2,250.

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“I’ve shown it like 20 times,” she said. “Some places and locations are getting harder to rent that are not right on the Red Line.”

More broadly, the good news for renters is that most landlords have moved away from asking for four month’s rent upfront before a tenant can move in. Many are also opting not to ask for the last month’s rent or a security deposit, while others are paying for half of the broker’s fee, which is usually a full-month’s rent.

But with summer peak rental season well underway, Nabatoff said, people looking for apartments now — especially in areas closest to transit and college campuses — should expect to pay the highest rates and be ready to act fast.

“Right now is the top market price, between now and September,” she said.


Katheleen Conti can be reached at kconti@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKConti.