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Lets look back at the other two major pandemics for which I can find data, the smallpox epidemic in the 1870s and the Spanish Flu in 1918.
First, it should be noted both of these pandemics were directly linked to wars that also affected the housing market.
Short Term Impact of Boston Real Estate Prices
Bottom line both these epidemics depressed apartment rents and real estate sales prices in the short-term, and mostly in heavily affected population areas. However, both showed real estate prices were very resilient with population and house price growth quickly reverting to prior trends afterwards.
In both cases, the outbreaks arrived in an era of rapid urban growth. Cities grew rapidly in the 19th century, similar to today, the epidemics had a large impact on daily life and the economy, and hit poor areas with significant urban crowding more than wealthier areas.


Housing prices rose for several years and were followed by rent increases as housing demand grew from those who couldn’t afford to buy.

Residential real estate investors have nothing to fear for one simple reason – It is far more likely that our population growth rate will rise rather fall from the after-effects of the coronavirus.

As a result of our location, abundant health resources, vibrant culture and positive outlook, downtown Boston is seen as a safe haven during times of strife or recession. The Spanish flu experience shows us that our population growth rates are likely to rise rather than fall once the panic is over and borders are opened again.

Boston Real Estate and the Bottom Line

There are other significant similarities to the Spanish flu outbreak and the current pandemic as well, such as falling interest rates. In 1919 Investors abandoned savings and flocked to the safe haven of property. There is every indication that they will do the same again.

Taken together, all these indicators suggest that property prices will rise in our downtown Boston once the coronavirus has become old news.

Source: Real Estate Prices After Pandemic

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