My rent is going up significantly and I can't afford it. I need to get a new place by Sept. 1st, but I'm not finding anything in my neighborhood on the big listings sites. Will there be more listings this month? If not, where should I look?
The situation is indeed very challenging now for New York City renters, but some neighborhoods have more inventory than others, so it may help to expand your search beyond where you've been living, our experts say.
The outlook for renters who need to move now is admittedly very difficult: In June, the average rent for a Manhattan apartment hit $5,000 for the first time ever—and the borough's vacancy rate is below 2 percent. In Brooklyn, the net effective median rent, which factors in concessions, reached a new high for the second, straight month in June. It was $3,266, an increase of 1.9 percent over the previous month. The median rent in Queens hit $3,002, the second-highest on record.
Renters are feeling intense competition—including bidding wars–for several reasons.
"There's a lot of interest in moving back to New York after a net migration out of the city [due to Covid]," says Kenny Lee, economist at StreetEasy. "Many renters are also moving out of units and looking for new ones because their pandemic deals are expiring."
On top of that, would-be buyers are opting to rent instead for now, thanks to rising mortgages rates and price appreciation in the sales market. All this adds up to low supply and high demand for NYC rentals.
The situation is not uniform across the city, however, and some neighborhoods are in higher demand than others.
Higher median asking rents are making a lot of popular neighborhoods in Manhattan and Brooklyn out of reach for many renters now, Lee says. But the impact is not uniform across the city "There are some neighborhoods not too far from these areas that tend to get overlooked, even though they're still within subway and walking distance," he says.
Your best bet may be to expand your search a bit beyond your preferred areas, or even look toward other boroughs. Data indicates that renters in Queens are less rent-burdened than those in Manhattan and Brooklyn, Lee points out. And there are several new rental developments opening in the Bronx. Some, like this one, are reserved for low- and middle-income tenants.
Other routes to landing a rental now may require flexibility on your part when it comes to lifestyle—like finding roommates, looking into lease takeovers to avoid bidding wars and broker fees, or considering a co-living arrangement.
There also may be some relief on the way, with the potential for listings to increase this fall, so you may want to consider a short-term solution to buy yourself some time—such as asking your landlord if you can go month-to-month at the higher rent in order to wait out this rental cycle, or living somewhere else temporarily before signing a new lease that you can better afford. (Be aware that you don't have much leverage in this torrid rental market, but owners may be more inclined to let you go month to month if you offer to help show the apartment or accommodate small repair projects to get the place ready for the next renter.)
Eventually buyers are expected to return to the sales market, easing pressure on the rental market.
"The rental market will eventually find new equilibrium as demand cools," Lee says.
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