Boston’s self-storage market is historically under-supplied, featuring a net market penetration of 4.5 rentable square feet per capita, lower than both the national average of 6.3 square feet per capita and the traditional benchmark of 7 square feet per capita.

The metro area is home to 455 self-storage properties with almost 30 million square feet of space, according to Yardi Matrix. There are also 30 planned properties with 2.2 million square feet of space, and 14 other self-storage facilities already under construction, totaling almost 950,000 of space.

Street Rates and New Self-Storage Construction Dropped Y-O-Y in Boston

The rate of new construction in the self-storage sector had a mixed evolution y-o-y in Boston and followed a mainly descending trend, with minor fluctuations month-over-month.

In September 2018, the planned and under-construction new self-storage facilities in Boston expressed as a percentage of the existing inventory, stood at 19.4%. The number dropped significantly by September 2019, to 15%, according to Yardi Matrix.


Even if the market is confronted with a below-average self-storage supply, self-storage street rates in Boston decreased year-over-year by 2.7% for 10×10 non-climate-controlled units and by 2.3% for CC units of the same size.

The annual drop in these self-storage street rates is mimicking the national trend in the industry. At a national level, August 2019 y-o-y street rate performance for a standard, 10X10 non-climate-controlled unit dropped by 2%, while the rate for a Boston climate-controlled unit of the same size dropped by 3%.


But data suggests September might be a turning point for the self-storage sector in the Boston metro area.

September Data Show Positive Month-Over-Month Evolution of Street Rates, New Construction

Compared with the previous month, September 2019 showed discreet signs of growth both in terms of new construction and street rates, which might indicate the commencement of a new trend. Planned and under-construction self-storage facilities registered a positive evolution month-over-month, growing from 14.4% in August to 15% in September.

The same growth pattern is apparent in street rate evolution, although, generally, new supply and street rates tend to move in opposite directions from one another. The average metro rent for 10X10 non-CC units registered a slight month-over-month growth from $144 in August 2019 to $145 in September 2019.

Strong Economic Fundamentals Make the Case for Self-Storage Surge in Boston Metro

When looking at the whole picture – including the strong economy, healthy job market, and growing population – Boston may still develop into a good market for self-storage investment. The Boston metro area added a total of 22,300 jobs between May 2018 and May 2019. Although job market growth cooled in the second half of 2019 at a national level, jobs expanded by 8.4% in September 2019 in Boston, the fastest pace in the United States, according to Glassdoor research.

As new jobs are added in Boston and young professionals move in the area, the housing market is reaching new highs. The average rent for Boston metro sat at $2,330 in September, which represents a significant 5% growth y-o-y, according to Yardi Matrix. Under such circumstances, new residents might be tempted to search for smaller apartments and compensate for the lack of storage space by renting self-storage units.

Also, let’s not forget Boston’s role as major education hub in the United States and the number of students that derives from this. There were over 150,000 students enrolled in Boston’s universities and colleges for the 2018-2019 school year, says boston.gov, a factor that also increases self-storage demand.

Strong job creation, population growth, the large number of students in the city, as well as the still under-supplied self-storage market, are all arguments that support the idea of a positive evolution of Boston’s self-storage market for facility operators and for investors.

Author

Maria Gatea is a real estate and lifestyle editor for Yardi with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the real estate industry. You may contact Maria via email.

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