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NY DAILY NEWS: Manhattan rents climb as demand stays strong

November 08, 2011


There’s no relief for Manhattan renters.

In spite of the weakening economy, landlords are hanging tough: The average rent for a Manhattan apartment in October was $3,341, 7% higher than October, 2010, and flat when compared with September 2011, according to a report from real estate brokerage firm Citi Habitats.

Rents are just $53 off their all-time high of $3,394 reached in May 2007. The vacancy rate in October was 1.18%, up slightly from September’s 1.08% vacancy rate but below October 2010’s rate of 1.24%.

“It’s a very stable market,” said Citi Habitats president Gary Malin. “Despite the economic turmoil, the rental market has forged ahead, full steam.”

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Cocky landlords are holding back on incentives. In October, just 7% of rental deals brokered by Citi Habitats offered a free month’s rent or payment of the broker’s fee, or both. While that is up slightly from September, it is down from October 2010, when 17% of deals included an incentive.

Demand for Manhattan rentals remains high as the borough continues to draw new arrivals from around the globe seeking employment opportunities.

Also keeping the rental market strong: Manhattan dwellers are delaying purchasing a home because they are uncertain about the economy or are having trouble securing a mortgage.

SoHo and Tribeca remained the hottest spots in town, with the average rent in those celebrity-filled neighborhoods hitting $5,085 in October. The vacancy rate was a razor-thin 0.49%.

There is a silver lining for renters, though. During the winter months, rents overall tend to come down.

But don’t expect big price drops. Even with expected layoffs on Wall Street, rents aren’t expected to shrink much because of the relative health of the New York City economy, Malin said.

“If there are mass layoffs, it will play a role in the rental market,” he said. “But I don’t think it will be as massive as renters hope.”