New supply stabilizing Allston rents

Rents in Boston’s Allston neighborhood fluctuated very little in 2015, according to Zillow, and actually fell last year, according to Zumper. Both are real estate listings websites that produce analysis based on those listings.

According to The Harvard Crimson, Zumper reported that rent for a one-bedroom were down 6.4 percent by the end of December.

On the other hand, Zillow data showed a modest increase in median rents for all apartment types over the same time span.

The Zumper data is irrelevent for a variety of reasons. For one thing, Zumper has comparatively few listings and for another, the rents shift dramatically on a month to month basis. The only other times I’ve seen peaks and valleys like they show, it was in an oscilloscope.

Zumper dataZumper’s Rent Trend data.

Another reason to believe it’s a blip is that it’s just one-bedroom apartments. No one I’ve known in Allston had a one-bed and they’re almost impossible to find in the run-up to September first. Allstonians mostly live in three- and four-bedroom apartments. Zumper does show a decline in four-bedroom rents, but only since October. In fact, it looks as though rents in Allston, as one might expect, follow tthe school year: peaking when demand in highest before June first and September first, then declining during the rest of the year.

Lastly, one should be suspicious of Zumper because they are frankly, strange. Their city guide was apparently written by a computer algorithim rather than a human writer and boy does it show.

Thus far I’ve found three completely new neighborhoods they’ve cut out of whole cloth — “Commonwealth”, made up of the parts of Allston and Brighton along Commonwealth Avenue, “Sav-Mor” in place of Dudley Square (Sav-Mor is the name of a liquor store chain), and Thompson Square-Bunker Hill in place of Charlestown.

Brighton is described as a suburb of Boston and Brookline as a neighborhood, it lists the New England Space Museum as an attraction when this is actually a fake listing dropped into Google Maps.

Zumper Oak Square

I think they’ve also fallen prey to the “Walk Score effect” where convenience stores are counted as grocery stores because there isn’t anything in Oak Square that a real person would consider buying groceries at.

Zumper Commonwealth

No, the Newton Commonwealth Golf Course is in Newton. And there is no neighborhood called “Charles River Basin.” There is no neighborhood called “Commonwealth,” either.

For Allston we get this gem: “North Allston is split from Lower Allston (an area almost entirely devoted to college life) by Interstate 90.” Uh, no. North Allston and Lower Allston are the same neighborhood. Lower Allston is seperated by I-90 from Allston Village.

Such a complete disregard for Boston does not inspire confidence in the data.

The Zillow data, however, does suggest that the new supply built in the last few years is helping to level off the increases. Between January of 2014 and January of 2015, rents in the 02134 zip code increased by $65, while in the previous year they increased by $138 and the year before that by $133.

Zillow Allston



One thought on “New supply stabilizing Allston rents

  1. Sounds like Zumper is getting confused by the seasonal cycle in places like Allston/Brighton where just about everyone moves on 9/1. And their data in general seems kind of dodgy as evidenced by these results and their intimate knowledge of Boston neighborhoods. I wonder what they have to say about rental trends in Newstead Montegrade.

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