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Rent prices are dropping across NYC—for real this time

Written by
Clayton Guse

Sky-high rent prices are the bane of most New Yorkers’ existence. The city is the second most-expensive for renters in the country, and if New York weren’t, well, New York, it’d be hard to justify its astronomical cost of living. But there is a small glimmer of hope on the horizon—new data shows that rent prices are slipping across the city, and landlords are offering more concessions than ever before to lure tenants. 

According to the latest market report from real estate firms Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman, April marked the fifth consecutive month where Manhattan saw a year-over-year decline in median face rent, while northwest Queens saw a huge drop (8.7 percent) in its median rental price from the same month last year. Rentals in Brooklyn saw a slight price increase from last year, but the real crux of the report lies in the rapid expansion of concessions that landlords are offering to woo tenants. 

These concessions—such as a landlord shouldering a broker’s fee or offering a free month’s rent upon signing—have become the new norm for rentals across Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, the data points out. In northwest Queens, 65 percent of listings came with concessions in April, a figure that swells to 90.7 percent when you look only at new developments. In Manhattan, 44.3 percent of listings came with these kinds of deal sweeteners, the third-highest recorded since late 2010, up from 28.6 percent a year ago. Just over half of Brooklyn’s listings during the month came with concessions as well, a huge boost from just 14.7 percent last April. 

The data is good news for those who are looking to sign a new lease or renew their current one, though the report does note that the increase of these concessions is leading fewer listings to spend time on the market. “With landlords quicker to offer concessions to make the deal and becoming more realistic about asking rents,” the report says, “shorter marketing times and smaller listing discounts are becoming a pattern.” Which is to say, if you find a good deal on a place, don't hesitate to jump on it. 

It’s worth noting that landlord concessions like a free month’s rent are not always indicative of a good deal—they’re as much a tool to convince prospective tenants to sign a lease with higher rent as they are an actual “concession.” But still, Miller Samuel points out that they’re growing at a record rate. And so long as rents continue to drop or remain flat and landlord freebies continue to expand, it’s good news for anyone who’s apartment hunting in New York. 

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