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Rentals, just the facts, m'am

Posted by Rona Fischman January 21, 2010 04:54 PM

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Sometimes the facts of the matter are just not the facts of the matter. During the extended discussion about young families, our trusty Markus came up with some facts about Newton rental housing.

Markus wrote:

The facts are very different, however. 30% of Newton residents rent. So there goes that argument.

Later, Markus added:

Actually, I was addressing the notion that Newton does not have a large rental market. it does.

Markusís facts may be correct, but those facts are totally irrelevant to young families looking for a rental. The kind of rentals that young families want and need are just not available. A very quick search of the Newton assessorís database shows:

There are 15,060 owner-occupied single family homes with three or more bedrooms. There are 545 that are not owner-occupied, and therefore potentially available for rental.

Of the 3460 multi-family homes in Newton.
1873 have five or more bedrooms total (which have some chance of a three-bedroom rental. Some may still be too small. But, I am estimating for the highest possible number.)
Of those 1873, 1034 are owner occupied. Since most owners live in the bigger units, that leaves 839 possible family rentals.
Then add the non-owner occupied ones, assuming one unit is big enough, plus 840, for a total of 1679.

The single family houses for rent, 545, plus the bigger multi-family rentals, 1679 total 2224. Just for fun, Iím willing to double that on the grounds that my numbers are rough. Thatís 4448 out of 29,913 housing units in the assessorís database... there's 30 percent renters in Newton, but not much for families.

Iím seeing push-back on acceptance that young families face a rental scarcity. What I hear out in the real world is that anyone who wants three or more bedrooms in the Boston Metro area has a very hard time finding a place to rent. If they have dogs or cats, itís twice as hard. If they have children under six, it is something astronomically more than twice as hard.

30 percent of Newton residents may rent, but they rent small places. It has a bearing on bubble-watching, but it has nothing to do with the rental scarcity that fuels purchase-decisions for young families.

Where can a family rent 3-bedroom apartments in the greater Boston area?
People with children, please tell the readers here what youíve been going through! I hear it from would-be clients regularly.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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