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New York City Rents May Finally Let Up On Their Terrifying Ascent

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Prices may finally be stabilizing, and landlords are actually negotiating more

It's that time again—time to look at the rental market reports compiled by various real estate brokerages, and try to glean something about the state of renting in New York City right now. And for once, there's some possibly heartening news: For the second month in a row, rental prices stayed more or less the same as the month before, rather than rising to yet another unfathomable high. "This seems to trend more [toward] cooling off or stability for the remainder of year," explains Jonathan Miller, the number-cruncher behind Elliman's market reports.

There's other evidence that this cooling-off may be a continuing trend. For one, apartments are staying on the market longer in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens—in fact, the number of days that Queens apartments are on the market before renting has nearly doubled from this time last year. For another, landlords are not only offering more concessions (in Manhattan, anyway), but also negotiating more with tenants. That fact is backed up by Citi Habitats's Manhattan rental market report, which found that 25 percent of transactions last month involved some kind of concession or negotiation on landlords' part.

Diving into Elliman's numbers, the average rental prices are down in Manhattan, though up ever-so-slightly in Brooklyn and Queens; median prices are up slightly in all three boroughs, but again, only slightly. (And according to Miller, the jump in median price may not be indicative of a trend.)

Luxury rentals are also wavering, with prices declining nearly five percent from this time last year in Manhattan, and 3.4 percent in Queens. (Brooklyn prices actually rose a bit). According to Miller, the luxury market is the weakest out there right now—there's more supply, but the same amount of demand, which is driving prices down as landlords try to draw in potential renters. "The high supply isn making that market underperform," he explains. Inventory is also up across the board.

But that still doesn't change the fact that the median rents across all three boroughs—close to $4,000 in Manhattan, and near $3,000 in Brooklyn and Queens—are still higher than they've been in years, and well out of the realm of affordability for many New Yorkers. "Rents are obviously high and pushing the bounds of affordability and the economy still remains strong," Miller notes. "But rents can’t rise forever and we’ve been seeing a downshift over the past six months or so." So perhaps there's a glimmer of hope on the horizon.