The Motherlode of Boston Rental Data: Source and Methodology

Much of the data for this website is used with permission from my employer, Gateway Real Estate Group. At Gateway, I am in charge of research & statistics. It is a perfect job for me, because I am always curious about trends in the Boston rental market, and I insist on seeing the numbers rather than relying on what “everyone knows” is true. After all, everyone knew the earth was flat before someone proved otherwise.

Basic Facts:

  • Scope: The data set from Gateway includes basic facts from every residential lease completed by agents at Gateway. No transactions are missing from the data set because agents had to enter the data into the system before getting paid their commissions.
  • Size: There are 4,856 transactions in the set.
  • Dates: The data covers just over 5 years, ending December 31 2014. It is still being collected, and I plan to publish updates in the future.
  • Sampling method: Our data is not a random sample of the whole rental market. It only includes those tenants & landlords who chose to use Gateway to help with their rental.

Geographic Area:

90% of the transactions in the Gateway data set are from the following seven areas:

  • Allston (02134)
  • Brighton (02135)
  • North Brookline (02445)
  • South Brookline (02446)
  • Fenway (02215)
  • Mission Hill (02120)
  • Symphony (02115)

Is the Gateway data representative of the whole rental market?

It is very good, but not perfect. There may be some bias present because the data only includes transactions that Gateway brokered. Still, I believe that the Gateway data is very representative of the market because our business is very diverse on both sides of the transaction:

  • Gateway works with a wide variety of renters (not just college students). At any given time, we have have 30-40 full time agents, who are each seeking out new clients using different advertising methods.
  • Likewise, we also work with a wide variety of landlords, from the mom-and-pops to large corporations. Gateway has two full time database managers who call and email every landlord they can find to solicit business.

How does Gateway data compare to statistics from other sources?

Many other statistics on the Boston rental market are generated by sampling listings on publicly available sites such as Zillow.com or Hotpads.com. However, those sites often contain duplicate listings and completely miss certain types of landlords. For example, higher-priced apartment complexes with professional marketing teams are often much better represented on those sites. Finally, the prices on listing sites are too high, because some tenants get a discount after negotiating. The Gateway data contains the final price after any negotiation.

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