Summer of Queens: renters flee Manhattan and Brooklyn for gentler borough

Manhattan, BK rents may have crested: Citi's Malin

TRD New York /
Sep.September 12, 2013 12:01 AM

Closing out a summer of consistently high rents in Manhattan and Brooklyn, tenants are seeking greener pastures, literally. The lush, relatively suburban streets of Queens saw a huge spurt in interest in August, execs from top brokerages told The Real Deal.

“Inquiries for Queens rentals have jumped 38 percent in August over July,” said Mark Menendez, director of rentals at Douglas Elliman, citing figures not disclosed publicly. “The number one requested neighborhood is Forest Hills.”

Manhattan rents have continued to hold steady, averaging $3,434 per month in August, $8 less per month than in July, when the average was $3,442 a month, according to Citi Habitats’ monthly rental market report, which uses data from the firm’s own transactions, released today.

According to Elliman’s monthly market report, also released today, the median monthly price tag for a Manhattan apartment was $3,150, down 1.8 percent year-over-year from $3,095. Coldwell Banker AC Lawrence had a much higher figure — $3,588 per month, up 2.6 percent from $3,498 in July. (Year-over-year figures were not provided in the Coldwell report.) None of the brokerages track rents in Queens.

“Pricing has been what it’s been all year – flat,” said Gary Malin, president of Citi Habitats. And while August should be busy in Manhattan, “vacancy has been creeping up,” Malin said. The figure grew slightly to 1.31 percent, from 1.19 percent in July, per Citi Habitats’ figures.

“I think it’s because pricing has pushed people to outer boroughs, or to purchasing,” Malin said.

He said he expects renters to see prices begin to cave and landlords begin to offer incentives in some rentals in the fall.

Menendez was less pessimistic, but admitted that “pressure on the market has been consistent.”

However, one segment was seeing drastic price jumps, he said. Studios in Lower Manhattan saw median rents grow to $2,907 per month, up 10.8 percent from $2,623 the previous month, and 6.3 percent from $2,734 year-over-year. “[Almost] $3,000 for a studio Downtown is a big number,” Menendez said.

In Brooklyn, the median rent was $2,850 a month, up 4.6 percent year-over-year from $2,724, according to Elliman’s report. The number of new rental deals signed in Brooklyn — 81 — was also a 200 percent increase year-over-year from 27.

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