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More Signs of a Mighty Manhattan Rental Market?

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Rents inching up, fewer free months tacked onto leases, landlords no longer paying broker fees?is it really the end of the renters' market? We've been hearing that for weeks, and now a pair of new reports say the market is indeed tightening, albeit with prices still down from the glory days. Brokerage Citi Habitats says in its May report that Manhattan's overall vacancy rate has slipped below 1%. Of course, May is a busy month due to the post-commencement rush, but it's the first time vacancies have gone this low since August '07. The rate peaked at 2.46% in February '09, according to the brokers.

Prices were up a wee bit over April, with the average monthly rental price for studios at $1,813, one bedrooms at $2,453 and two bedrooms at $3,414. Citi Habitats' president wants us to enjoy the good times while we still can: "Landlords are removing concessions, and apartment seekers should brace themselves for new conditions." For those not yet tucked into the crash position, some more exciting data!

To get a look at how one specific neighborhood is faring, we point you to the mid-year FiDi Report (warning: PDF) released by brokerage Platinum Properties. According to the voracious Craigslisters, the Financial District's vacancy rate was reduced by more than half over the past six months. The firm agrees that concessions are going bye-bye, thanks in part to a lack of inventory caused by longer leases signed with last year's concessions. Now there's a high school lesson on cause and effect if we've ever seen one. One-bedroom apartments make up much of the FiDi market, and Platinum says rents for "luxury" 1BRs (doorman buildings, we assume) now average just over $3,000, a 5% bump from the end of 2009. OK, now brace.
· Monthly Rental Analysis: May 2010 [Citi Habitats]
· Rental Market Reports coverage [Curbed]