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Manhattan Rentals Plateau; Brooklyn Market Aims for Records

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The sales and rental markets are closely linked, and those links show up clearly in the latest reports on Manhattan and Brooklyn rentals (monthly) and Brooklyn and Queens sales (quarterly), all out today. There's a lot to cover, so let's dive in, shall we? Up first: the September Manhattan rental market. The median Manhattan rent is now $3,095/month, a drop of 3.1 percent from the same period last year. (Citi Habitats, dealing with averages rather than medians, shows a $17 increase in average rents from August to September, and the Coldwell Banker/AC Lawrence report shows an increase, too.) While the rate of rent increase has slowed in 2013, this is the year's first decrease in rents, according to Curbed graph guru Jonathan Miller, who prepares Elliman's market reports. "Although it is only one month," he tells us, "I think we are entering a period of transition to a plateau rather than always rising."

The plateau isn't particularly a positive sign for renters, but more a result of buyers hurrying into the sales market due to changing mortgage rates. "Mortgage rates will trend higher?reducing affordability for purchases [and] keeping pressure on rents in place," JMillz explains. In fact, while rents on studios and 1BRs?categories of "interest-rate sensitive" renters who jump into the entry-level sales market when mortgage rates shift?fell, rents for two- and three-bedroom apartments increased.

The Brooklyn rental market, though, is having none of this plateau nonsense. The borough's median rent is now $2,800/month, 10.4 percent higher than it was at this time last year. (And that monthly rate is the second-highest since January 2008, which is as early as the Elliman data goes.) Renters aren't thrilled with the stats, and in fact, many are jumping back into the market when their leases come up for renewal because their landlords are seeking substantial rent hikes. As a result, the number of new rentals rose 32.1 percent compared to the third quarter of 2012.

The Brooklyn sales market is reaching for records, too. The borough's median sales price in the third quarter was $564,720, an 11.6 increase from last year, and the average sale price is $694,777, a 13.1 percent increase from last year. Both those numbers are highs since Elliman began tracking the data early in 2003. At the same time, inventory hit a five-year low, leading the overall number of sales to drop compared to last year. (The Corcoran report has a slightly different stat on this, with 1,146 closed sales, the highest number in five years.)

Compared to Manhattan and Brooklyn, Queens stayed fairly stable in the third quarter: the median sales price rose just 0.5 percent, to $372,000. Sales rose 29.6 percent year-over-year and inventory dropped 32.3 percent. Buyers, sellers, renters, time to chime in: what's happening out there in real time?
· Market Reports [Elliman]
· Market Reports [Citi Habitats]
· Market Reports [Corcoran]
· NYC Rental Report [AC Lawrence]
· Market Reports archive [Curbed]