Spring House Hunt: Rents for Boston’s luxury apartments have dropped

Luxury Renting Spring House Hunt Boston
A view of Boston skyline.
It wasn’t that long ago that city condos garnered bidding wars. David L Ryan/Globe Staff file

The shiny, new glass buildings of the Seaport may have seemed off-limits for renters in the years leading up to the pandemic.

But that was then, and this is now.

While people flock to the suburbs for more space and backyards, some of the city’s best apartment bargains are popping up in unexpected places like the VIA and Pier 4 luxury developments in the Seaport, according to YouGotListings data.

“I don’t know how long this will last, but there are really good deals out there,’’ said Eain Williams, a sales and marketing specialist with Compass. VIA and Pier 4 did not respond to requests for comment.

It wasn’t that long ago that city condos garnered bidding wars when they hit the market and apartments were associated with hefty broker fees. But monthly rents are falling by hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in some of Boston’s toniest residential developments due to pandemic migratory trends. Developers are even offering concessions like months of free rent or waiving fees for pets.

Rents averaged around $3,700 for one-bedroom apartments at 100 Pier 4 a little more than a year ago, according to YouGotListings data. But that average has fallen to around $3,200 in recent weeks. Potential renters were even offered $1,500 off on some units or, if they had good credit, half their security deposit waived.

It’s not unheard of to see luxury apartments that would have fetched rents north of $20,000 per month pre-pandemic now going for closer to $13,000, Williams said — still pricey but also a major drop.

“Obviously, the world was on pause for the last year, but I think this is developers in the Seaport ensuring they can get people back,’’ said Olivia Canada, who moved into a 16th-floor studio at the VIA in March. “I had been hearing about the lower rents and stuff but never looked into it.’’

Canada’s monthly rent for her 471-square-foot studio is about $800 less than what similar studios rented for when the VIA opened in 2017. She even scored 2½ months of free rent, meaning her first rent check isn’t even due until June.

Move-outs are likely playing a role in the new tactics sales teams are deploying at some of these newer, high-end residential projects. Even the most affluent renters became conservative about their cash flow last year, leading some to move into less expensive units.

“We saw a lot of high-end rentals where the numbers got to be a lot softer,’’ said Dino Confalone, a realtor at Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty and president of the Greater Boston Association of Realtors. “There were a lot of lower-end rentals that started stealing higher-end renters.’’

But while some of these luxury projects in the city are offering concessions and major deals on rent, the sources interviewed for this story caution that the bargains may not last, as more vaccines are administered and people return to their offices and life in the city.

“I get the sense [the softness] is not as bad as it was last year,’’ Confalone said. “There is obviously hope with people getting vaccines that it’s shifted into a more positive light.’’

Cameron Sperance can be reached at [email protected]. Subscribe to the Globe’s free real estate newsletter — our weekly digest on buying, selling, and design — at Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @globehomes.