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Manhattan apartment listings soar, pushing vacancies to a record

By Oshrat Carmiel, Bloomberg News on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Manhattan apartments are piling up on the market - and it's getting harder to fill them.

Rental listings jumped to a record 15,025 at the end of August, more then double the inventory from a year earlier, according to a report Thursday by appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. The borough's vacancy rate reached a new high of 5.1%. Last August, it was under 2%.

Renters are finding few reasons to sign new leases in Manhattan, with Midtown offices still largely empty and public school reopenings an unresolved question. Not all who left the borough during the coronavirus lockdown have returned, and those committed to staying in the city are getting more space for lower rents in Brooklyn and Queens.

"The shift in the rental market has been sudden and significant in a short period of time," Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel, said in an interview. "Until we see a stabilization in outbound migration or some impetus to bring people back, we're looking at more softening rents to come."

To attract tenants, Manhattan landlords offered concessions such as free months or payment of brokers' fees in 54% of newly signed leases - a record share in nearly 10 years of data, the firms said. With the value of those sweeteners factored in, rents fell 7.7% to a median of $3,161.


Brooklyn rents remained relatively stable, even as listings in that borough more than doubled. The median rent fell 1.4% to $2,878.

In northwest Queens - where luxury towers in Long Island City tout easy access to Midtown - new leases plummeted 32% from a year earlier to 213. Concessions were offered on 59% of those deals.

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