Here come the higher rents

If you can pay $3,500 per month, this one-bedroom at the Ritz is renting for September.

It’s the busiest time of year for rentals in Boston and, unfortunately for apartment-seekers, it’s also the hottest rental market in almost a decade.

With consumers worried about purchasing real estate in a down economy, the rental market is heating up with vacancy rates at their lowest level since 2002, according to recent statistics and Boston brokers.

The rental market is very competitive this fall with some rents 20 percent more than last year, according to Briggs Johnson, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in the South End.

A rental analysis by Marcus & Millichap’s National Multi Housing Group found that in 2011 the Hub’s apartment vacancy rate will decrease to 4 percent.

“I’ve witnessed Boston apartment rental increases from 10 to 25 percent with some of my landlords,” says John Ford, owner of Ford Realty in Beacon Hill. “Even with the rising rents, our apartment listings were scooped up in days, sometimes within hours of them being listed.”

A study by RentalBeast.com found that Greater Boston is the fifth most-expensive rental market in the country. The median price of an apartment was $1,665 in the second quarter of this year, setting a new record for the region, according to the study.

“The major culprit seems to be the uncertainty in the economy. Many renters thinking about purchasing condos are reluctant to make the big move, whether for job uncertainty or for the more restrictive mortgage requirements,” says Ford.



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