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Rising rents: Reality or just scare tactics?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis September 24, 2012 07:48 AM

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Stop scaring people with all those high rents from Wellesley and the Back Bay!

That's the push back that predictably comes after any post or article that mentions some of the more expensive rental markets out there.

Here's what sturgis79 had to say about my recent Globe West article and post about soaring suburban rents.

Talking about $3500 a month rents in Wellesley or Back Bay makes for sensational writing, but it just doesn't apply to 95% of the people out there. Anyone who is paying $3500 a month for rent really needs to take a finance 101 course. You could get yourself a $600K home for that kind of money. And really, using Wellesley to argue the rental increase point is weak. That's like using Brockton to argue that home prices are going to drop by 50% from current levels.

Sturgis, with all due respect, you are wrong on this one. Rents are up across the board, and not just in Wellesley. And it's far better to look squarely at the unpleasant realities of the perpetually-price-inflated Greater Boston housing market than to try and wish away all those crazy rents and home prices.

Yes, Wellesley is certainly is one of the most expensive places out there to rent a home or an apartment, with a median rent of $3,547, according to

But towns like Plainville and Framingham aren't any bargain either these days, with median rents of over $2,000 down, according to Zillow, which tracks both homes for rent as well as apartments.

And renting in towns like Waltham and Arlington could easily put you out well over $2,000 a month, while Newton or Lexington will push you towards the $3,000 a month mark.

Nor is buying an easy alternative for many renters these days - they may have already gone that route and failed or can't come up with the sterling credit scores and big down payments that are now required.

Just ask Bynxers, who is still in sticker shock after apartment hunting last year - and that was before the latest round of rental hikes.

You can even find Wellesley like rents these days in respectable but hardly tony communities like Braintree and Canton, wrote Bynxers on the comment board the other day.

We moved out of the core about a year ago. Before that we were in a corporate run complex in metrowest and before that right in town, well- Davis Sq. Anyway- when we looked to move further out to get a full house to rent as we save and pay down debt to eventually make a purchase- the realtor we work with, who is great, basically said that there are some towns where you can rent and other where you haven't got a chance of finding anything. We saw plenty of houses for rent approaching $3k a month, where comparable homes on the market would be much less in PITI payment. $2800 to rent a house in Braintree? , $2950 in Canton?? Sorry.... And these were for quaint capes. The lesson continues for us, the further you get from Boston, the cheaper it is. Right down 24 past Brockton? Nice house to rent, reasonable price, huge yard, great neighborhood full of families. Boston itself is awesome, but it is also very much the crux, or Hub or the problem...

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

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