Hot winter: Manhattan rent is highest ever for January

New York prices continue to defy national decline

NYC Rental Market, rents, Douglas Elliman, Jonathan Miller, Miller Samuel
(Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)

National rent trackers see prices slipping further this year. But not in New York City.

The median Manhattan rent rose 1.2 percent from December to January to $4,097, the third-highest on record and highest ever for the month, according to a report by the appraiser Jonathan Miller for Douglas Elliman.

Typically, rents cool in winter as renters save apartment hunting for the spring.

But weak supply and a premium-priced housing market has continued to fan demand for rentals.

The number of new leases in Manhattan expanded annually for the first time in three months and the vacancy rate fell month-over-month to 2.5 percent — the first dip in nine months.

Brokers, however, say Manhattan rents’ modest rise last month is more of the same: rents holding steady at near-record levels. Since their July peak, New York rents have slipped in four months and risen in two, but never by more than 2.1 percent in either direction. Miller has characterized the trend as prices plateauing.

“This is just where we’re going to be,” said Hal Gavzie, leasing director at Douglas Elliman. “The next several months will be pretty consistent.”

The median rent in Brooklyn last month was the second highest ever, and both the average and median rent in Queens hit all-time highs.

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Nationally, the wave of multifamily project completions, which reached a 50-year high over the past two years, has helped meet demand and pull down rents, NBC reported.

And though RentCafe calculated that New York was on pace to deliver the most new apartments of any metro area last year — over 28,000 — that hasn’t satisfied the demand.

Given population growth, New York City apartment construction is 10 years behind where it should be, REBNY’s head of planning Basha Gerhards told NY1.

As a result, Miller said he was “skeptical the current pipeline will make any difference in affordability.”

As it stands, luxury rentals and subsidized housing are the only projects that pencil out without a tax abatement akin to 421a.

“The rental housing stock of mid- to entry-price rental has remained static for decades,” Miller said.

It’s also possible that slipping mortgage rates could boost home purchases and allow aspiring buyers to exit the rental market.

Miller said that would likely reduce pressure on the rental market, but not so much that rents decline.

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