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Manhattan apartment rents inch up after 3 months of decline

MANHATTAN apartment rents climbed slightly in November after three months of declines. But the market isn’t returning to the hypercompetitive heights of the summer.

The median rent rose 2.1% from October to $4,095, the third-highest level ever recorded by appraiser Miller Samuel, Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Yet there were also indications that demand wasn’t particularly strong, including a rising share of new leases signed with concessions and a higher vacancy rate.

“The market largely is moving sideways,” said Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel. “We’re having some ups and downs from month to month, but not any big moves in either direction.”

Landlords and renters across New York City are in a holding pattern, he said, waiting to see if the US dips into a recession and unemployment increases. In the meantime, leasing has slowed, with new signings down almost 39% from October, the largest month-over-month drop since April 2020.

In that climate, apartment owners are testing whether they can keep raising their prices, and renters are trying to negotiate deals. Even with prices up slightly, “there’s more momentum shifting toward the tenant over the landlord,” Miller said.

For months, renters were getting discounts averaging less than 1% off the original list price, and sometimes paying roughly that much over asking. But in November, the typical listing discount rose to 3%.

Landlords also are more frequently agreeing to give breaks such as free months without cutting face rents. About 16% of November’s new leases included concessions, up from 13% in October and 11% in September, the firms said.
Manhattan’s vacancy rate last month was 2.42%, up from 2.35% in October. It had been below 2% for much of the year.

Rents also rose slightly in the Queens neighborhoods closest to Manhattan, with the median up almost 3% from October to $3,185. But Brooklyn prices showed some weakness, as the median fell 5.6% to $3,300. It was the largest monthly decline since May 2020, when rents fell 8% as the reality of the city’s extended COVID-19 lockdown began to set in. — Bloomberg

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