New York, New York, it’s a helluva town! As long as you can afford it.
As city rents have continued reaching post-pandemic heights, they’ve finally reached a brand new, and bank-busting, benchmark.
In Manhattan, the median rent price reached $4,000 for the first time ever, according to Douglas Elliman’s just-released May rental market report — which tracks prices in Manhattan, Brooklyn and parts of Queens. That sky-high sum marks a 25.2% year-over-year climb from the $3,195 Manhattan median rent tallied in May 2021. It also comes as lease signings rise, and as listing inventory of available Manhattan rental units — which reached 19,025 homes last May — plummeted to 5,776 last month, a nearly 70% year-over-year drop.
Not only has the demand been fueled by New Yorkers, those who fled town during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, gradually returning to the city as schools and offices have reopened — but also by remote-working out-of-towners moving to the Big Apple to take advantage of their ongoing flexibility.
It’s a recipe that creates a challenging hunt for tenants on the prowl for a new spread. One of them is Eden Tuckman, a 23-year-old sales agent at Keller Williams NYC, who’s spent the last three months with her roommate trying to find a two-bedroom Manhattan apartment within 20 minutes from Grand Central. Even though they’re willing to spend up to $3,700 per month, the issue of Manhattan’s low inventory has become a big hurdle — and they have yet to ink a lease.
“As soon as an apartment is posted online, you’re basically done,” said Tuckman, adding that even when quickly emailing to schedule a viewing for it, “there’s already another applicant.”
As a result, and in order to find an apartment to share, the two have already made sacrifices. They’re now fine without a dishwasher, without laundry in the building — and even once considered a sixth-floor walk-up. Now, they’re looking for a third roommate, which she predicts should open more doors to available units.
“It’s a game at the end of the day, which is really unfortunate because it’s a house,” she said. “People need a place to live and yet nothing’s helping.”
The crush of prospective tenants seeking housing has also kept inventory at shocking lows city-wide. Across Manhattan, Brooklyn and northwest Queens, a total of 9,103 units were available to rent in May. Last May, a total of 35,429 rental units were on the market in those three areas — and it was around that time a number of locals inked new leases for upgraded units for the same price, or even less, than what they paid before. The largest regional decline came in northwest Queens, inclusive of Astoria and Long Island City, which saw inventory fall 87.5% year-over-year to 373 units from 2,994.
That said, bidding wars — a competition method that has long been a headache among buyers in the city’s sales market — are still highly present on the rental side. In Manhattan, the tallies show, 18.5% of the nearly 4,934 units that rented last month entered a bidding war. In Brooklyn, 23.8% of the 1,531 leases inked went into a bidding war. In those parts of Queens surveyed, 16.1% of the 404 units rented saw a bidding war happen.
With the market being what it is, Tuckman has no other option but to keep trying.
“It’s a part-time job at the end of the day,” she said. “I come home from helping my clients find a place, then I have to find my own place?”