NYC Apartment Lease Signings Continue To Improve

February 11, 2021, Les Shaver, - Despite reports to the contrary, people are still signing leases for apartments in New York City.  New apartment lease signings in Manhattan hit 6,255 last month—posting their best January in the 13 years Douglas Elliman has been tracking the number.  Buildings with a doorman led the way, claiming new leases at twice the rate of buildings without a doorman.

For the fourth consecutive month, new lease signings rose to their highest level for the current month since the financial crisis, according to January’s Elliman Report, which shows that the vacancy rate in Manhattan, at 5.33%, continues to recede from the October record.  Still, that rate is triple what it was a year ago.

At the same time, the average rental price before concessions declined 11.6% year-over-year to $3,909 in Manhattan.  Concessions jumped 64.3% year-over-year to 2.3 months.  Concessions in the luxury market were lower than they were in other segments of the market. 

Rent declines were consistent across existing properties and new development.  New development rents fell 15.2% year-over-year to $4,495.  Existing apartment rents fell 11.6% to $3,909.

For the fourth straight month in Brooklyn, new lease signings rose to their highest level for the current month since the financial crisis, according to January’s Elliman Report.  Brooklyn saw the most new lease signings for a January in thirteen years of tracking.  New leases hit 1,546 in January, a 19.8% month-over-month increase and a 45.8% year-over-year increase.

As was the case in Manhattan, rents fell in Brooklyn.  The net effective median rent fell 13.8% year-over-year to $2,472.  Landlords offered 2.1 months of free rents, which was a 31.3% year-over-year decline. 

In Queens, rents also continued to fall.  “Net effective median rent fell annually at a record rate this month and was the ninth straight month with a decline,” according to January’s Elliman Report.

Net effective median rent fell at its highest rate in more than four years in Queens, dropping 22.6% year-over-year to $2,185.  Concessions jumped 88.9% in Queens to 3.4 months.  Elliman says the monthly concession rental equivalent rose to a new record for the third straight month.  The market share of landlord concessions saw annual expansions for the sixth consecutive month.

Queens did have 294 new leases.  That was a 9.3% increase compared to December, but a 4.5% decline year-over-year.

Brokers are feeling more confident about the market, according to REBNY’s Quarterly Real Estate Broker Confidence Index in 4Q.