Boston condos & Airbnb

In case you weren’t already familiar, Airbnb is a service that allows individual Boston condo owners to list their spare room or the entire Beacon Hill condo. Worldwide it has more than 4.5 million listings in over 190 countries.

How Downtown Boston Handles Short-Term Rentals

Our Boston Mayor hasn’t embraced the concept of turning Beacon Hill condos and Charles River Park apartments into de-facto hotel rooms. In fact, Boston became one of the first American cities to strike a deal with Airbnb, exchanging permission to operate for some basic rules intended to avoid some of the issues that Airbnb has had in other places. These “terms and conditions” apply not just to AirBnb listings but those placed on similar sites such as Vacasa, VRBO and HomeAway.

So, what are the restrictions on short-term rentals in Boston?

Boston Mayor Walsh requires that homeowners offering rooms or units as short-term rentals to a acquire a permit to do so, and they can only act as “hosts” if they are living in the primary dwelling on the property (which means they must stay there at least nine months out of the year). Guests, meanwhile, can rent the room or unit for a maximum of 30 days under downtown rules and pay a city tax.

The rules are cut-and-dried, but unfortunately, compliance is not. There are many downtown Boston condos operating in Villon of these rules

Short-Term Rentals: How do they impact Boston condo for sale values?

Experts generally agree that short-term rentals cut into the available Boston Beacon Hill apartment, in addition to the downtown Boston apartment rental stock of people who actually want to live in a city. However, the degree to which this is happening is unclear.

Currently, Boston doesn’t have enough data to determine how Airbnb activity is affecting renters. It is currently in negotiations with the corporation to obtain this data and take action on illegal rentals. 

The “Airbnb Effect” on Boston Condo for Sale

Legal short-term rentals still have an important role to play in downtown Boston. By renting out a room or an apartment — or even their whole home if it’s for less than three months — on a site like Airbnb, homeowners can offset part of their mortgage payment. 

Certain neighborhoods of downtown Boston have become short-term rental hotspots, such as Beacon Hill and Charles River Park. Both neighborhoods being close to hospitals and Universities make it a big draw. Although neighborhoods experiencing high short-term rental saturation are said to have become “hotelized”, with plenty of hand-wringing about the impacts, the issue has not been extensively studied. 

As a real estate agent, I find that local neighborhood dynamics are the biggest driver of downtown Boston condo values. Real estate agents estimate listing prices on Boston condos for sale based on what other homes in the neighborhood are selling for. If a short-term rental is helping a homeowner meet their mortgage payment and preventing the house from being foreclosed on, then it’s a definite positive impact on neighborhood home values. If there are several short-term rentals being poorly managed in a neighborhood, and buyers are making lower offers as a result, this could eventually drag down home values.

Boston Condo Owners Take Caution

Listing a room in a condo as a short-term rental might be in violation of Boston Beacon Hill condo association rules. In addition, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) may not approve loans for Boston condos that have a short-term rental anywhere in the building, according to the Washington Post. That means homebuyers approved to finance their Boston Seaport condo purchase could have their application rejected for a single Airbnb listing, even if it’s going on in another unit.

Boston condos for sale

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Author Profile

John Ford
John Ford

Over the course of 20 years in the Boston downtown real estate market, John represented and sold numerous, condominiums, investment and development properties in Greater Boston and in the surrounding suburbs

In addition to representing Boston condo buyers and sellers, John is currently one of the most recognized Boston condo blog writers regarding Boston condominiums and residential real estate markets. John's insights and observations about the Boston condo market have been seen in a wide variety of the most established local & national media outlets including; Banker and Tradesman, Boston Magazine The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald and NewsWeek and Fortune magazine, among others.


For over 24 years, John Ford, of Ford Realty Inc., has been actively involved in the real estate industry. He started his career in commercial real estate with a national firm Spaulding & Slye and quickly realized that he had a passion for residential properties. In 1999, John entered the residential real estate market, and in 2000 John Started his own firm Ford Realty Inc. As a broker, his clients have come to love his fun, vivacious, and friendly attitude. He prides himself on bringing honesty and integrity to the entire home buying and selling process. In addition to helping buyers and sellers, he also works with rental clients. Whether you’re looking to purchase a new Boston condo or rent an apartment, you’ll quickly learn why John has a 97% closing rate.


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John Ford and his staff can be reached at 617-595-3712 or 617-720-5454. Please feel free to stop by John's Boston Beacon Hill office located at 137 Charles Street.

John Ford
Ford Realty Inc
137 Charles Street
Boston, Ma 02114



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