The rent may finally be too damn high

New lease signings slipped in a month that typically sees peak demand

(Photo Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal with Getty)
(Photo Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal with Getty)

New York rents smashed records for the fourth time in five months in July, pushing the median price for a Manhattan apartment to $4,400. Brooklyn and Queens followed suit with prices notching new highs at $3,950 and $3,641, respectively.   

But amid those headline figures, leasing demand — typically the strongest in the summer — waned last month, according to a report by appraisal firm Miller Samuel on behalf of Douglas Elliman. 

That pullback signals some tenants can no longer stomach New York’s astronomical cost of living, a trend that may suppress rent growth in the months to come.

“The growing lack of affordability may be causing prices to top out or come close to it,” report author and appraiser Jonathan Miller said.

Rental demand typically peaks in August as tenants’ summer hunt for new apartments comes to a close. But new lease signings slipped month over month in July in each of the three boroughs that Miller tracks.

The number of new leases signed in Manhattan fell 3.2 percent month-over-month in July. Brooklyn and Queens, where rents run a bit cheaper, saw steeper declines —  27.3 percent and 47 percent, respectively — indicating tenants with less to spend are snubbing new leases at a higher rate.

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Those renters are likely opting to re-up their current leases and spare themselves the premium prices and moving costs that come with a new apartment. 

“I suspect they are being retained through renewal efforts more aggressively than before,” Miller said.

Another sign rents are at or near their peak: the rapid pace of annual growth has continued to slow. 

Manhattan’s median rent last month rose 6 percent over prices posted last July, the smallest annual increase the borough has seen since September 2021. 

Despite that slowdown, rent growth has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels, another sign that the pace of gains has further to fall.

New York’s median rent jumped 2.3 percent in July versus the previous month. Over the past decade, the monthly rental growth rate was 0.6 percent, Miller said, “far less than what we are seeing now.”