Manhattan apartment rents reach a record with vacancies falling

NEW YORK: Manhattan apartment rents jumped last month, extending a surge in costs as availability tightens during the market’s peak season.

The median monthly rent rose 3.3% in June from a year earlier to US$3,300 (RM10,493), according to a report yesterday by appraiser Miller Samuel Inc and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. A separate report by brokerage Citi Habitats showed the average rent reached US$3,470, the highest in records dating to 2002.

Rents are increasing following a lull at the end of 2013 and early this year, when vacancies rose after a jump in home sales. Apartment costs will continue to climb, pushing some people out of Manhattan to other boroughs, until employment improves and mortgage lending returns to historically normal levels, said Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel Inc.

“The drivers of rising prices aren’t going away any time soon,” Miller, a Bloomberg View contributor, said in a telephone interview. “Prices have been elevated in Manhattan for a number of years. That has been a key driver of the Brooklyn rental market. Now you are seeing people proceed out of Brooklyn and looking at Queens.”

Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman’s median Manhattan rent was the highest since a one-month spike to US$3,695 in February 2009, when the credit crisis damped demand at the low end of the market.

The vacancy rate in Manhattan fell to 1.64% last month from 1.83% a year earlier, the Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman report showed. It was the lowest for June in five years. Landlords’ use of concessions to fill apartments, such as a free month’s rent, also declined.

Much of the increased demand is seasonal, as late spring and early summer months are typically among the busiest for the Manhattan rental market, due in part to arrival of new graduates in the city, according to Citi Habitats. Apartment seekers can expect more inventory and less competition as the weather cools, the brokerage said.

In Brooklyn, New York’s most populous borough, new leases surged 62%, indicating resistance to price increases at the time of renewal, according to Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman. Rents rose 2.3% from June 2013, bringing the monthly median to US$2,800, or US$500 less than in Manhattan.

In February, the difference was just US$210, the smallest since Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman began tracking the Brooklyn market in 2008.

Luxury apartments in Manhattan, the top 10% of leases by price, cost a median of US$8,848 a month in June, up almost 11% from a year earlier.

Among Manhattan neighbourhoods, leasing costs last month were highest in Soho and Tribeca, ranging from an average of US$2,620 a month for studios to US$7,906 for three-bedroom homes, according to Citi Habitats.

Washington Heights had the lowest housing costs, with studios leasing for US$1,250 on average, while three-bedroom apartments commanded US$2,472, the brokerage said. — Bloomberg

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on July 11, 2014.


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