Residential rents continue upward march in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens

Report finds increases of 5 percent to 6 percent from a year ago

(Credit: iStock)
(Credit: iStock)

As apartment hunters try to figure out what on earth is going on with broker fees, they now have other news to give them pause: Rents were 5 percent to 6 percent higher last month than a year earlier in all three boroughs covered by the Douglas Elliman market report.

The median rent price in Manhattan was up 5 percent to $3,595, according to the report. For units in new developments, January was the ninth month in a row the price grew year over year.

In Brooklyn, it was much the same: The median rent price was 5.5 percent higher, at $2,987, than in January 2019, the report found. With concessions factored in, the median price rose by 5.9 percent, to $2,868 — a figure is known as net effective rent. The number of new leases fell by 7.8 percent and listing inventory plunged 23 percent from a year ago.

But the biggest hike was in Queens, where the median rent, $2,993, was 6.3 percent higher than a year before. Listing inventory was down by 25 percent to 346, indicating strong demand.

“The boom in rents this month, especially at the high-end across all three boroughs, was driven by their weaker corresponding sales markets,” said Miller Samuel’s Jonathan Miller, who authors the report.

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The number of new leases in Manhattan was off by 2.1 percent over 12 months, which suggested landlords were having more success when leases were up for renewal, Miller said. “Renters had a harder time finding lower priced but equivalent options, so it was an easier decision to remain in their existing apartments,” he added.

The number of owner-pay transactions or those with rental concessions was 40 percent — down from nearly 45 percent last January.

Miller said it was too soon to see any impact of the state’s ban on tenant-pay broker fees for landlord agents, a decision that was put on hold by a New York judge just days later. If the ban is reinstated, some landlords who have to take on the cost of paying brokers are expected to raise rents in response.

Write to Sylvia Varnham O’Regan at