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As NYC rents surge and concessions stagnate, renters lose the upper hand

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High summer demand pushed up rents in Manhattan, Brooklyn and especially Queens

Lukas Schlagenhauf/Flickr

New York City rents area fickle thing. They change with each passing month, and can vary wildly depending on whose data you’re looking at. In June, for example, the market reports showed a soft rental market with prices in Manhattan and Brooklyn essentially flat.

But last month brought enough demand to push prices up to record levels across three boroughs—at least according to StreetEasy's latest market report, which looks at data for July. (You can read about StreetEasy’s methodology for this here—but basically, “all data included in the calculation of our rent indices comes from the full history of listings submitted to StreetEasy by brokerages, property managers, and individual landlords.” Something to keep in mind.)

According to StreetEasy’s numbers, the biggest gains happened in Queens, where the company tracked the highest ever rents in the borough—the median asking rent rose 1.3 percent from last year to $1,996/month. Brooklyn rents also hit a record high, rising one percent from last year to a median of $2,453/month this July. Rents grew the most in South and East Brooklyn, with prices up 1.8 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively, compared to a year ago.

And yes, more records were set in Manhattan: According to StreetEasy’s data, the median asking rent rose 0.2 percent to $2,980/month. Manhattan’s least expensive submarket, Upper Manhattan, experienced the largest price increases, with asking rents rising by 2.2 percent. (The number of discounted units rose slightly in that area, from 28 percent last year to 30 percent last month.)

Manhattan did see some price decreases, too, with asking rents falling by 0.4 percent in both Midtown and the Upper West Side to $3,060/month and $3,048/month, respectively. The share of discounts in Midtown decreased year-over-year from 39 percent to 35 percent; in the Upper West Side the discount share went down from 44 percent to 40 percent.

As for discounted units, those are down compared to this time last year. In Queens, a full quarter of rentals received some kind of price cut last month—but compare it to last November, when a whopping 40 percent of Queens rentals got discounts. In Brooklyn, 32 percent of rentals offered a discount last month, down from 38 percent in July 2016 and 46 percent from November 2016.

And in Manhattan, 36 percent of StreetEasy’s rental listings in the borough were discounted in July, marking the lowest share of discounts since August 2015.

After the weak rental market of this year, "a mix of rising rents and fewer discounts or concessions from landlords shows signs of stabilization," says StreetEasy Senior Economist Grant Long. "While welcome news for landlords, renters planning on signing a new lease before summer ends should expect limited negotiating power and will need to act fast."

StreetEasy also rounded up sales pricing for July. They found that Queens resale price growth outpaced both Brooklyn and Manhattan, with the median resale price rising 7.8 percent to $500,289. Median resale prices in Brooklyn rose 4 percent from last year to $758,349, while Manhattan's median resale prices were essentially unchanged year-over-year at $1,160,295.

In Manhattan, demand is up for the lower-priced inventory, and soft for the luxury stuff. Prices for the least expensive homes rose 5.8 percent since last year, Streeteasy reports, while home prices in the luxury segment fell 3.7 percent.