Manhattan rents recover to pre-pandemic levels as new leases slow

Propelled by higher-end units, median rent in the borough jumped to within $5 of 2019 figures in October


After months of heavy leasing activity even as pandemic-era concessions dried up, Manhattan’s rental market returned to something resembling normal in October.

New lease signings in the borough fell 16 percent month-over-month in October and 22 percent year-over-year, according to a report by appraisal firm Miller Samuel for Douglas Elliman.

The median rental went for $3,495 per month, a 13 percent increase from last year that propelled it to within $5 of the median rent in October 2019 — “a typical year” — according to Jonathan Miller, who authored the report.

“The market is getting to the point of breaking even with pre-Covid levels,” Miller said, adding, “It’s not without some significant polarization.”

Indeed, apartments in doorman buildings saw median rents jump 18 percent year-over-year, the largest such increase Miller has ever recorded. Those in non-doorman buildings saw a 4 percent increase.

The situation is largely the same in Northwest Queens, which Miller called an “extension of Manhattan.” Median rental prices in the area hit $2,713, down 1 percent from the month before but up 4 percent year-over-year.

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And while new leases in the area — which Elliman defines as Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside — increased just 4 percent over September, they surged 103 percent over October 2020.

Brooklyn, meanwhile, may still be in its heyday of leasing activity. The borough saw a rush of renters in search of more space, in some ways mirroring the flood of homebuyers to the suburbs during the pandemic.

Just under 1,700 new leases were signed in Brooklyn in October, up 14 percent from September, 22 percent from last October and 47 percent from October 2019.

“Activity remains extremely elevated in Brooklyn,” Miller said.

Median rent, however, has remained stable at $2,731, down 2 percent from September and 1 percent from October 2020.

Concessions remained widespread, despite falling from levels seen earlier in the pandemic. In Manhattan, 32 percent of new leases included concessions, down from 60 percent in October 2020. That figure was 34 percent in Brooklyn and 37 percent in Northwest Queens.

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