The Market

Manhattan saw a 58 percent jump in renters signing new leases in January

By Brick Underground  | February 11, 2021 - 11:30AM

New lease signings in Manhattan rose to their highest level for the current month since the Financial Crisis 13 years ago. 


The New York City rental market continues to favor apartment hunters. With many vacant apartments on their hands, landlords are still offering lower rents and generous concessions—and that's luring renters to sign new leases.

It’s an ongoing trend tracked by the latest edition of the Elliman Report for the January Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens rental markets. The report found that for the fourth consecutive month, new lease signings in Manhattan rose to their highest level for the current month since the Financial Crisis 13 years ago, rising 57.6 percent over January 2020.

The median rent in Manhattan was $3,000 last month, down 16.6 percent from a year ago.

The Manhattan vacancy rate, which hit an unheard level of 6.14 percent in October, went down to 5.33 percent in January (it usually hovers around 1 percent). That’s what has been putting pressure on landlords to reduce rents and offer concessions like free months and paid broker fees. Concessions rose to the highest level on record last month. They were, however, down sharply for luxury rentals. (Luxury renters may be taking of still-low mortgage rates in order to buy.)

Small apartments saw the biggest percentage decline in median rent, the report said, as renters take the opportunity to trade up to larger apartments and get more amenities. And illustrating that trend: New leases in Manhattan doorman buildings surged year over year by more than twice the rate as non-doorman lease signings.

In Brooklyn, for the third straight month, new leases hit the highest level for the month since the Financial Crisis. New leases were up 45.8 percent last month compared to January 2020.

The median rent in Brooklyn was $2,600, down 13 percent compared to last year, and the net effective rent, which factors in concessions, fell year over year at the highest rate in more than a decade. Concessions hit the highest level in Brooklyn in more than a decade as well.

For Northwest Queens, new leases dropped slightly from a year ago and the median rent, $2,471, was down 17.4 percent compared to January 2020. The net effective rent (with concessions) fell year over year at the highest rate in more than four years, and the level of concessions hit a new record for the third, straight month.

Other market reports

MNS released its January rental market reports for Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. The reports drill down to look at rents by apartment size and neighborhood—and compare doorman to non-doorman buildings in Manhattan. Findings include: The largest monthly decreases occurred in doorman studios in Soho, non-doorman studios on the Lower East Side, and nondoorman two bedrooms in the Financial District.


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