The Real Deal New York

Median rents in Manhattan hit five-year high

But prices in Queens slip
By E.B. Solomont | July 10, 2014 12:01AM

Manhattan’s rental market saw median prices hit a five-year high in June as the vacancy rate dropped to its lowest in five years, according to Douglas Elliman’s monthly rental report released on Thursday.

With the vacancy rate hovering at 1.64 percent, median rental prices rose 3.3 percent to $3,300, from $3,195 in June 2013. The average rental price increased 5.4 percent to $4,079.

“There are so many more people looking than there are apartments available,” said Luciane Serifovic, director of rentals at Elliman, which publishes the report monthly with appraisal firm Miller Samuels. According to the data, inventory levels dropped 2.2 percent to 5,719, and properties stayed on the market for 49 days, down from 54. Landlord concessions also dropped to 2.6 percent of transactions, down from 3.4 percent.

Overall, Manhattan’s luxury rentals led the market in June and the median price for luxury units increased 11.3 percent year over year, to $8,848. Uptown’s median rental prices surged 33.3 percent to $2,600, while the East Side saw median rental prices slip 4.9 percent to $2,900.

In Brooklyn, median rental prices rose for the thirteenth straight month, up 2.3 percent to $2,800, according to the report. The average rental price increased 1.7 percent to $3,176. The gap between Manhattan and Brooklyn rents was $500, compared with a record low of $210 in February.

For the first time, Elliman’s monthly report also included data on the Queens rental market. “We decided we needed to create a market report where the landlords and consumers are going,” Serifovic said.

In contrast to Manhattan and Brooklyn, the median rental price in Queens dropped 0.5 percent in June to $2,830. The average rental price fell 3.5 percent to $2,896. But Serifovic said a surge in the number of one-bedroom rentals skewed the numbers, and that the market is strong.

One-bedrooms accounted for 60.2 percent of rentals, according to the report.

In a separate report also released Thursday, Citi Habitats said average rents in Manhattan broke a new record in June, reaching $3,470, the highest since the firm began tracking the data in 2002. Previously, the peak was an average of $3,461 in August 2012.

“From the tenant’s perspective, it’s a tough market to navigate and the real reason is because there’s a lack of inventory,” said Citi Habitats President Gary Malin.

Can rents get even higher? Malin said in pockets of the city, yes, although many landlords will be hard-pressed to hike prices substantially. “If people feel too much pressure, they’ll look to other options,” he said.