Manhattan, Brooklyn renters finally have reason to cheer

BK median price falls, while Manhattan concessions on the rise: Elliman report
By E.B. Solomont | December 10, 2015 08:03AM

Manhattan median rents rose 3.9 percent to $3,161 in November, continuing a 21-month growth streak. But there’s a silver lining to be found for renters.

The Douglas Elliman report found that the high prices also led to a vacancy rate of 2.87 percent – the highest in nine years. As a result, the share of new rentals with concessions was 13.5 percent, a five-year high, according to the report, authored by real estate appraiser Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel.

“When the owner pays concessions and free rent, that’s typically the first step to take to make sure they can get their vacancy absorbed,” said Luciane Serifovic, Elliman’s executive manager of rentals. “Reducing the rent is a last resort.”

Serifovic said the higher vacancy rate is partly seasonal but also because there are more units on the market and increased competition. “Before, we didn’t have Long Island City with all these incredible buildings, and now there are more options,” she said. “That’s definitely affecting the rentals in Manhattan.”

In a separate report also released Thursday, Citi Habitats said Manhattan’s average rental price dropped to $3,464 in November, $27 less than October’s average of $3,491.

Soho and Tribeca had the lowest vacancy rate last month, each at 1.16 percent, while the East Village had the highest, at 3.24 percent.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn’s median price slipped 0.4 percent to $2,935 — $426 less than Manhattan’s median rent, according to the Elliman/Miller Samuel report. “The good news for renters is that this is the time when a renter can take advantage and leverage opportunities,” Serifovic said.

In Queens, overall rental prices moved higher, with the bulk of the price growth in smaller units. The median rental price of $2,735 a month was up by 8.3 percent, still $200 below Brooklyn’s median rental price and $626 lower than Manhattan’s.

New development accounted for more than one-third of the market, but landlord concessions were offered in about half of the borough’s rental deals. “When an owner is building a brand new building, [they want] to get the inventory absorbed quickly,” Serifovic said.