Boston: Prime gateway city for US property investment
Boston has beaten the likes of New York City as the property market with the strongest outlook in the northeastern US.
Boston might not be the first place most people think of when it comes to investing in US property, but the New England city has some of the best real estate prospects in the country.
As a global economic hub with a young, well-educated population and near-record level of unemployment, Boston offers exceptional opportunities for buy-to-let property investments.
A PwC report Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2017 named Boston the number one property market in the Northeast based on local outlook, placing it above New York City boroughs such as Manhattan and Brooklyn, as well as Philadelphia, among others. Boston was also in fourth position for investor demand from a local market perspective and ranked as one of the top markets in the country for homebuilding prospects and overall real estate prospects.
For rent, Jones Lang LaSalle’s (JLL) multifamily property clock showed that Boston was a peaking market in Q1 2017. Rent across the country grew by 2.9 percent year-on-year, while average rental income figures in New York City declined by 0.9 percent over the same period.
So, what gives Boston the edge over other US cities for overseas property investors?
Home to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and several Top 50 schools, leading research institutes and teaching hospitals, the Boston metropolitan area has built a proud legacy of innovation and creativity.
As a leading hub for life sciences research and high-tech companies, Boston also has the second-largest technology workforce in the US and received over US$7 billion (HK$54.8 billion) in technology investments over the past five years. These high-tech industries benefit from the continual supply of thousands of skilled graduates from local colleges and universities every year, as well as talent and investment from overseas.
In addition, Boston has become recognized as one of the top seven 'smartest cities' in the US, defined by Fast Company's online publication Co.Exist (now rebranded as Fast Company Ideas). It is one of the top cities that use data generated by the Internet of Things to improve infrastructure. PwC notes that smart cities are reliably found among the top markets for investment and development in its annual Emerging Trends in Real Estate survey.
Science and technology aren't the only industries fueling job growth in Boston. According to JLL research and figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a total of 52,188 job positions were added across the city's diverse economy in 2016, with job growth outpacing other major cities such as LA, NYC and Washington DC.
Healthcare is another major sector that offers some of the highest-paid jobs in the market. The finance sector is also continuing to grow, with Boston being one of the top three cities for venture capital investment in the US and the new headquarters of major global firms such as Bain Capital and Fidelity. However, it was the construction sector that experienced the biggest YOY growth, at 8.6 percent in 2016.
Since 2010, with more people being employed than ever before, Boston's population has been growing at a pace that’s twice the state average, leading to a construction boom as new residential, retail and infrastructure projects aim to meet the high demand.
Key rental demographics
Over 40 percent of students remain in the Greater Boston area after graduating, which keeps the population comparatively young. Around 35 percent of residents are between the ages of 20 and 34 – the prime age group for property rentals – compared to 20 percent nationally.
What's more, more than 42 percent of the city’s population holds at least a bachelor’s degree, improving their chances of securing high-wage jobs. As incomes grow, many real estate projects are targeting more affluent buyers with properties close to job centers and schools, the most prestigious being in the Seaport District, which offers access to the CBD and the financial district.
One such project is Echelon Seaport, which broke ground in June. Located on Seaport Boulevard, this ambitious 1.33 million square feet development by Cottonwood Management will consist of three towers, incorporating 733 apartments and condominiums, 125,000 square feet of premium retail and dining space, and a landscaped public plaza. Construction is expected to be complete by 2020, with the first units going on sale soon.