Manhattan Rental Apartments: The Market Heats Up

Published on Jul 18, 2011

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We've received a flurry of reports recently about Manhattan rental apartments, from a number of different sources, and they all say the same thing: the Manhattan rental market hasn't been this hot in years. We're now at about the half-way point of the prime rental season, and once again landlords have the upper hand.

No matter how you look at it (vacancy rates of Manhattan rental apartments, rental prices, and the number of rental apartment seekers throughout all five boroughs), NYC rental apartments are once again a heavily sought-after, occasionally fought-over, commodity.

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It's an environment which long-time New Yorkers have seen plenty of times before, one in which prospective tenants looking for Manhattan rental apartments should expect fewer, if any, concessions. Not much more than 10% of all landlords were willing to make concessions on leases signed this past month, as compared to nearly one-third of landlords during the same period last year. And even those deals are getting less spectacular: when offered, the average concession today is just over one month's free rent, whereas last year that figure was a solid two months rent for free. This dearth of concessions is one reason why, even though "face rents" (the figure stared on the lease) are flat or, in a few neighborhoods, even down, overall the median "net effective rent" is approximately 9% more expensive than last year.

And, of course, in Manhattan's most coveted neighborhoods--Tribeca, the West Village, Soho, Chelsea--that number is significantly higher.

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The main reason for the increase is simple: right now the demand for Manhattan apartments for rent far outstrips supply. In fact, the vacancy rate of Manhattan rental apartments is sitting at .72 percent, the lowest it's ever been since Citi Habitat began tracking those numbers more than nine years ago, in 2002. At the same time, the amount of people seeking NY apartments for rent hasn't been this high in more than a decade, as people whose credit was slammed in the recent recession have been cut out of the home-buying market.

All of this makes looking for Manhattan rental apartments-and, in a trickle-across-the-rivers-effect, rentals in the entire tri-state area--a much more competitive undertaking than it's been a while, with anecdotal evidence pointing to a rise in landlords asking multiple interested parties for "best offers" before deciding who can sign the lease. In other words, the market price is high... and you may have to pay even higher still.

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So what can you do? For one thing, save yourself thousands of dollars by dealing directly with the owner or property manager, cutting out the brokers and their fees, hidden or otherwise. In this market, the true no-fee NYC rental apartment is the only way to go.

Urban Edge
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