The Rental Market

Your prayers have been answered: outer borough rents are calming down

By Virginia K. Smith | March 12, 2015 - 8:59AM

Consider this a whole new form of "rent-stabilization": Rents are finally evening out (stabilizing, if you will) in Brooklyn and Queens after what's felt like years of non-stop, astronomical price hikes. Of course—and you knew this was coming—that doesn't exactly mean that anything will be getting cheaper

February rental  reports are out from both Douglas Elliman and MNS Real Estate, and while their numbers vary, both reports seem to indicate a (relative) sense of sanity returning to the outer boroughs. "The good news is that rents don’t seem to be rising like they were before,  but the bad news is, they’re probably not going to change all that much," says Elliman's numbers expert Jonathan Miller. "Manhattan prices are continuing to push higher, but Brooklyn and Queens, while high, have leveled off."

For the median Brooklyn rent of around $2,900, you could rent out this roommate-friendly 2-bedroom on Myrtle Ave. in Bushwick.

MNS CEO Andrew Barrocas concurs, "I do think that you’re going to continue to see both Brooklyn and Queens prices continue to increase, but don’t think you’re going to see prices rise at the rates you’ve seen the past two or three years."

As for the actual numbers, here are the key figures to check out from Douglas Elliman:

  • Median Manhattan rent: $3,375, up 8.9 percent from the previous year.
  • Median Brooklyn rent: $2,863, down .9 percent from the previous year.
  • Median Queens rent: $2,600, no change from the previous year.

​And from MNS:

  • Average Manhattan rent: $3,899, down 0.75 percent from the previous month.
  • Average Brooklyn rent: $2,701, a 1.3 percent increase over the previous month.
  • Average Queens rent: $2,103.96, down 0.69 percent from the previous month.

For the median Queens rent of $2,600, there's this 2-bed, 2-bath right in the heart of Ridgewood.

Keep in mind that "average" rents generally come out higher than "median" numbers, and that it's not unusual for prices to drop month-to-month in the winter, when the rental market experiences a slowdown. Plus, Miller Samuel's numbers indicate that in Brooklyn, the slight yearly decline is mostly due to price drops in the over-saturated market for large and luxury apartments (which make up the bulk of new development), while studio and one-bedroom rentals are still in-demand (and thus, pricey). "Prices are rising gradually with 'starter' apartments [like studios and one-bedrooms], because many of those renters are would-be first-time buyers who are priced out of the market," explains Miller.

Still, these numbers are a (relative) breath of fresh air for anyone sick of "record breaking Crown Heights price increase!!!" headlines, and a welcome reminder that the colder months are prime time to take advantage of the rental market. "If you need to move, I'd move very quickly," says Barrocas. The warmer March gets, the faster prices are likely to climb.


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