One in five Manhattan apartments may now be vacant

The astronomically high number takes into account a phenomenon called "Shadow Inventory"

Will Gleason
Written by
Will Gleason
Content Director, The Americas
Photograph: Shutterstock

Everyone knows there are a lot more apartments available to rent in the city than there used to be, but the actual number of available units could be even higher than we think.

At least, that’s the argument made by Gary Malin, the COO of one of NYC’s largest real estate firms, Corcoran Group on a recent episode of Talking Manhattan as reported by Brick Underground.

Manhattan rental prices are currently at the lowest they’ve been in almost a decade—with prices dropping a whopping ten percent just between June and July. Generally, over the last few years, the Manhattan vacancy rate has been about one percent but it reached as high as six percent in October.

We know what you’re thinking, “But isn’t that a little over one in 20 available units in the borough?” Don’t worry, our math isn’t (that) bad. The 20 percent figure that Malin estimates comes from a phenomenon called “shadow inventory.” This is both a very good name for an evil big box store as well as what it's called when landlords don't list all their available units.

Back in April, the New York Post estimated the “shadow inventory” in the city could contain as many as 38,200 units. That number is surely higher now given the overall real estate trends of the last nine months. One thing that may keep prices high? The city’s shadow inventory isn’t expected to hit the market all at once.

In the meantime, it’s another bit of additional info useful to use if you’re planning on signing a new lease and want to talk your rent down a bit. And if you haven’t negotiated your rent down yet, now is the time!

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