Attention Manhattan and Brooklyn renters: You’re finally about to catch a break.
According to Krishna Rao, an economist at StreetEasy — New York City’s go-to real estate marketplace — although rents in both boroughs enjoyed strong growth for nearly 10 years, the landscape has shifted over the last five months.
Both Manhattan and Brooklyn started the year with declining monthly median rents for the first time since 2010. In fact, the most popular neighborhoods are seeing month-over-month declines. In Manhattan, median rent fell 0.5 percent month-over-month to $3,198 in January, the fifth consecutive month of decline. Brooklyn, on the other hand, has seen its median rent decrease 0.8 percent to $2,806, marking the sixth consecutive month of rent decline. What gives?
“It’s always going to be a competitive market,” says StreetEasy senior economist Grant Long. “So there’s still going to be people out there looking at places, but there’s a total slowdown [right now].”
What goes up must come down
See all those cranes in the sky? You can thank them for bringing down rental prices.
“Rents are hardest hit in places with construction,” Long explains. Plus, rents were due for a decrease anyway. According to Long, rents have risen every month since the depth of the financial crisis in 2010. Seven years later, that trend is leveling out.
“We’re going to continue to see how new construction changes [these] neighborhoods,” he says. “We don’t see rents going way down, but we do see softening in the markets.”
Now more than ever, renters have some negotiating power as landlords are finding ways to attract people to their building. And they’re not afraid to get creative. “Wherever you see new buildings, there’s a lot of incentive to fill up all of those units,” Long says. “Landlords are offering all sorts of things to get people into those homes, so we see a lot more incentives than we used to.” Think: a month or two rent-free, or the broker’s fee paid by the landlord. “That happens most prominently in new buildings.”
And there’s hope for those of us who prefer the city’s old school charm. “[The trend also] spills into other parts of the market,” says the expert. “If someone is looking at an old building and a new building, and the new building offers an incentive, they’re going to ask for that in an old building, too.”
Find even cheaper rents
“Rents are declining, but they’re still high,” says Long. “So we see folks continue to trade off commuting time for affordability.” For the best deals, Long recommends Kingsbridge and Mott Haven up in the Bronx; Sunnyside and Astoria in Queens; and Gowanus and Prospect Park South in Brooklyn, all of which are growing in popularity. “Every neighborhood has something to offer.”