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A surge of luxury apartments boosts rents in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens

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There’s a “widening gap” between tenants and landlords

Photo by Aurelien Guichard/Flickr

The November market reports are out, and it looks like New York’s rentals will finish out the year with many of the same factors we've seen throughout 2017—namely, high concessions and softening demand for luxury products.

Jonathan Miller, the author of Douglas Elliman's report, calls the findings "more of the same." The prevailing theme, he says, is that "concessions remain stuck at very high levels, without really rising." Throughout the year landlords have been unwilling to increase them—or, you know, lower rents—and that hasn’t changed.

There's also decreased demand for the upper end of the market; luxury median rents then decline, and demand rises as rents go down. And yet, these high-priced rentals keep getting built: Miller points out that for the last two months, "doorman" rents have risen faster than "non-doorman" (i.e. more affordable) rents. The new, pricier pads bump up the median rent across Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens because, as Miller says, "they rent for more, even if those prices are declining or soft."

Let’s get into the numbers: In Manhattan, the median rental price edged up 0.3 percent to $3,360. In Brooklyn, it was up 0.5 percent to $2,795. And in Queens, it rose one percent to $2,600. But again, those increases are, in Miller’s view, because of the influx of luxury apartments.

November was the 22nd consecutive month landlord concessions rose year-over-year. The share of new rentals that had them in Manhattan was 29.6 percent, up from 25.1 percent; the net effective median rent for Manhattan came in at $3,284 per month. In Brooklyn, after six consecutive months of annual declines, the net effective median rent edged higher, to $2,755, with 18.6 percent of leases having concessions.

The number of new leases fell across all apartment sizes (except for three-bedrooms), with just under 1,000 leases signed. Listing inventory declined 15.8 percent to 2,194.

In Queens, the share of new rental transactions with concessions was 44.5 percent, up from 35.9 percent, with the net effective rent coming in at $2,517.

The Citi Habitats report tells a slightly different story: According to the brokerage, rents remained generally stable in Manhattan, but declined slightly across all apartment categories in Brooklyn. But still, incentives skyrocketed—and the number of apartments on the market rose to the highest level in over eight years. "This illustrates the widening gap between what tenants are able to pay, versus the rents that landlords want to achieve,” Citi Habitats president Gary Malin noted.

The most expensive Manhattan neighborhood for renters this past month was SoHo/TriBeCa (again), with a median rent of $5,200. Washington Heights has the cheapest, with a median rent of $2,155.

For Brooklyn, DUMBO was the most expensive neighborhood in November, with a median rent of $4,400. Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant, both with a median November rent of $2,400, were the least expensive Brooklyn neighborhoods tracked in their report.