Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens rents set records in March

A blip, or the start of a new climb?


Just as Manhattan trees budded a full month early, the busy spring rental market arrived ahead of schedule, too, driving rents to top last summer’s all-time high.

Typically, New York prices pop in May when tenants seize on nicer weather to move. But the seasonal lift hit Manhattan’s rental market in March, driving the median monthly charge to a record $4,175, according to a report by the appraiser Jonathan Miller for Douglas Elliman.

New lease signings surged 21 percent from February levels to notch the second-highest number on record for March.

“Seasonally, we are entering the spring market, which peaks in the summer,” Miller said.

The borough’s median rent last month bested the previous high of $4,150, set in July. The jump also marked the first acceleration of year-over-year growth since November.

Manhattan rents in March stood nearly 13 percent above where they were last year. In February, annual growth was about 11 percent.

Miller has characterized Manhattan rents as moving sideways since cresting last summer. Despite March’s fresh high, the appraiser said he is not ready to say that trend is at an end.

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“It is too soon to call a departure from that, but it is confirmation that rents have been flirting with new highs since the summer and periodically we see a month where rents break through,” Miller said.

Apart from the seasonal surge in demand, Miller said, continued high costs in the for-sale and mortgage markets contributed to last month’s rent growth.

Mortgage rates have discouraged would-be homebuyers, particularly first-timers; the average 30-year fixed rate Wednesday was 6.8 percent. Economic uncertainty has also led people to delay big financial commitments such as buying a home.

The trends have prompted more renters to stay put, squeezing the supply of apartments and sustaining near-record prices.

Across the East River, rents showed a similar pattern, jumping 2.7 percent in Brooklyn month-over-month to a record $3,493 in March as the number of new lease signings surged 37 percent, also hitting a new high.

Queens’ median rent rose to $3,300, the second highest on record, and the number of new leases signed was an all-time high for the month of March.

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(Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty Images)
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