Good news for renters: Landlords may no longer feel invincible.
As the city's major real estate brokerages released their reports on February rent conditions today, an executive at Equity Residential, a Chicago-based company that owns 26 rental buildings in Manhattan and several in Brooklyn, told Bloomberg News, “If we see decreases in traffic then we know that maybe we pushed too far with our rents. … If we see increases in people’s notices to vacate, we realize we may have to back off.”
The number of tenants at Equity's Manhattan buildings who moved out to buy apartments jumped almost 20 percent in the last three months of 2013.
And the February rental reports, out today, are showing that overall, rents fell from last year's levels for the sixth month in a row, as Curbed NY reports. The median monthly rent fell 2.8 percent to $3,100 a month in February versus the same period last year, according to a Douglas Elliman report.
While rents are expected to climb as the busy spring and summer season hits, it’s likely that concessions will be easier to find than last year. The two most popular concessions continue to be one month free rent or broker fees paid by the landlord. Sometimes you’ll see discounted deposit fees and free amenities like gym membership.
Here’s what to keep in mind when hunting down concessions:
- Don't be afraid to ask for a deal: Even if major concessions aren't on the table, a landlord might be willing to work with you. A good broker can help you negotiate a new appliance, a refinished floor, or soundproofed windows. Landlords know that these improvements increase their rental value, making them more willing to offer small renovations as a concession over losing precious rent dollars.
- Use the Internet to your advantage: Check Urban Edge for a list of available apartments with concessions of one or two months of free rent, reduced or no security deposit, free fitness center membership and gift certificates and gift cards. On Naked Apartments, click on "Filters" and search by "low-fee" or "no-fee" to find deals on broker's fees. On StreetEasy, click the "rentals" tab, then click on "more search options," and in the box that says “description includes,” type in the “free rent” or “no fee."