The Market

Rents in Brooklyn and Queens hit new highs in February—and continued to climb in Manhattan too

The median rent in Brooklyn saw a new record last month, increasing 7.1 percent to $3,100, according to Douglas Elliman’s February rental market report.

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If you’re looking to rent a new place in Brooklyn, you’ve picked an expensive time to go apartment hunting.

The median rent in Brooklyn set a new record last month, increasing 7.1 percent to $3,100, according to Douglas Elliman’s February rental market report for Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. In fact, numerous metrics for Brooklyn showed increases, the report says, meaning almost any way you slice it—Brooklyn is becoming a pricier place to rent.

Indicators are also rising for Queens, which saw a new record set for the average rent, an increase of 11.8 percent to $3,235. (Keep in mind that new luxury development can skew the average rent high—focusing on the median price gives you a better sense of the middle of the market.)

Overall, New York City’s rental market followed a similar trajectory in February as previous months—with higher rents and declining concessions—but there were a few surprises.

In Manhattan, rents also moved higher, with all three overall price trend indicators—median rent, rent per square foot, and average rent—up for the ninth straight month, year over year. The median rent rose 2.9 percent to $3,500.

However, the luxury median rent fell for the first time in nearly a year. Concessions (freebies like free months and owner-paid broker fees) and new leases were both down (new leases fell year over year for the 14th straight month) as more tenants are choosing to renew rather than move to a new place.

“This month we’re seeing a steady continuation of the trends we’ve observed over the last several months in the rental market, with robust pricing and a decline in the use of concessions, though they remain elevated,” says Hal Gavzie, executive manager of leasing for Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

In Brooklyn, the number of new leases with a concession, as well as the total number of new leases, fell sharply. Leases with concessions represented 28.8 percent of new leases, down from 44.7 percent last February. The luxury median rent rose for the 16th straight month.

In Queens, more leases came with some kind of concession—60.5 percent, up from 49.3 percent. And the size of the concession was the biggest seen in more than four years, 1.9 free months, up from 1.4 free months.

“The city’s rental market has been very sturdy over the past year and into the beginning months of 2020, with rents consistently on the rise,” says Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of appraisal firm Miller Samuel and the author of the report. “Although we are in the midst of a charged news cycle, in the context of the rental market, we’re not seeing any tangible impact at this time.”

In addition, Miller says it’s too soon to see the impact from the landlord broker ban, and a subsequent temporary restraining order issued in response to a lawsuit filed by several real estate groups and firms.

Market reports from other firms

The Corcoran Groups’ rental market analysis for February found pricing increased in both boroughs—for all apartment sizes—when compared to this time last year.

The report says 30 percent of rental transactions brokered by The Corcoran Group offered a free month’s rent and/or payment of the broker fee to entice new tenants in February down from 34 percent in January. 

“Mild weather conditions drove increased traffic to available apartments,” says Gary Malin, chief operating officer of The Corcoran Group. He also notes that while the use of concessions was down, they were still found on nearly a third of all leases—especially in areas with a lot of new developments and on luxury product.”

MNS also released its February rental market reports for Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx—the reports drill down into neighborhoods across the four boroughs and look at rents by number of bedrooms and doorman vs. non-doorman. Some findings from the report include: The largest monthly rent decrease was for doorman studios in Soho, down 20 percent. The largest monthly rent increase was for doorman two bedrooms, also in Soho.