Manhattan rental vacancy rate dips to lowest level in three years: report

By Amy Tennery | August 23, 2010 01:15PM

Manhattan continued to see a decline in its rental vacancy rate last month, according to residential brokerage Citi Habitats’ July Manhattan rental market report (see full report below).

The overall vacancy rate dipped to .88 percent, down slightly from June’s .90 percent and May’s .98 percent, according to the report, which is based on Citi Habitats’ rental transactions. July’s level marks the lowest vacancy rate seen in almost three years.

July’s vacancy rate is down almost half from the same month a year earlier, when vacancy hit 1.67 percent.

While seasonal trends likely influenced this activity — July is among the busiest months for Manhattan’s rental market — Gary Malin, president of Citi Habitats said that seasonality alone is not driving vacancy rates downward.

“Historically, you always see vacancies getting very tight in the [summer],” Malin said, in part due to the influx of recent graduates and students that traditionally hits the borough. “[But New York City’s] unemployment rate has been going down steadily over the last few months [and] the vacancy rate has been going down every month since November 2009.”

Rents, meanwhile, stayed relatively stable compared to June. Studios and one-bedrooms remained mostly unchanged, with average rents of $1,818 and $2,492, respectively. Two-bedroom unit rents declined 2 percent with an average cost of $3,404 and three-bedroom apartments climbed 1 percent month-over-month, with an average rent of $4,622.

Malin said he expects a gradual, seasonal decline in activity as the colder months descend, but noted that the economy could still have a negative effect on the market, as well.

“You hear about the financial news — ‘is there going to be a double dip recession?'” Malin said. “Obviously those are issues that are going to have a potential impact on the market.”

July 2010 Citi Habitats Report