By Jenifer B. McKim
Boston-area rents are hitting new heights – with the median price recently reaching $1,665 a month – as the vacancy rate falls to the lowest level in almost a decade, new data show. In a region long known for its costly housing, the tight rental market has left many frustrated apartment seekers scrambling to find places they can afford before Sept. 1, the area’s traditional changeover date. Facing competition, some renters are taking properties sight unseen. Others, answering ads, find apartments already snatched up before they can get a tour. “This is the tightest it’s been,’’ said Ishay Grinberg, chief executive of RentalBeast.com, a Somerville company that has provided a database of apartments for renters since 2003. “We have a significant number of companies that have zero vacancies.’’ Record-high rents in the Boston area – loosely defined as the region bounded by Interstate 495 – were reached during the second quarter of this year after recovering from the 2008 financial crisis, which deflated rents around the country, according to Reis Inc., a New York company that tracks rental data. Boston is the fifth-most-expensive rental market in the country, behind Fairfield County in Connecticut, Westchester County in New York, San Francisco, and New York City, according to Reis. The vacancy rate for Boston-area apartments dropped to 4.4 percent in the second quarter of the year, down from 6.2 percent a year earlier, and is the lowest it has been since the end of 2002, according to Reis.
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