If you have tried to find an apartment in New York City recently you know it’s a very difficult task. There’s shockingly low inventory right now, and lots of competition from other renters, making finding a place to live a very stressful situation.
This may come as a surprise to renters who flocked to the city when NYC emptied out and rents dropped last year—if you were apartment hunting then you had your pick of listings, so here's a test: Go to an apartment listing site and search for a rental similar to your own—the same size, budget, and neighborhood.
I did this and found just two apartments. Last year, when we were apartment hunting, there was at least 30, if not more, that would have fit our wish list—with new listings coming on the market each week.
That current scarcity is in line with a new October market report from StreetEasy, which found that citywide, there were 30,326 rentals available last month, a drop of 59 percent compared to October 2020, when there were 74,078 rentals citywide.
In Manhattan, it’s particularly challenging to find an available apartment now. Inventory is at its lowest point since 2012, according to StreetEasy, with approximately 13,000 rentals available, down 68.3 percent from the prior year.
The Brooklyn and Queens rental markets have been less volatile during the pandemic compared to Manhattan. Renters here either did not have the means or were less inclined to leave. But there’s still a drop, according to the report: Brooklyn rental listings were down 52.7 percent from last October to 11,150, and Queens listings were down 34.5 percent from last October to 5,186.
“Transient Manhattan renters were most likely to leave the city, either temporarily or permanently, during the height of the pandemic,” says Nancy Wu, an economist at StreetEasy. “That drove the highest share of rental vacancies in Manhattan among the boroughs. It’s why we’re now seeing Manhattan’s inventory experience bigger swings and more dramatic changes as it recovers.”
Wu says she expects the competition for Manhattan rentals to continue for the next several months, even during the typically slow winter season.
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