Lowering The Volume: Why Are Manhattan Rental Apartments So Hard To Find This Summer?

Prices on Manhattan rental apartments are down, which is good news for -- obviousness alert -- people looking for Manhattan rental apartments. But like all good news in NYC real estate, there's a catch, here. While it's easier to find a Manhattan rental listing at the price you want, it's getting harder to find a Manhattan rental listing period. Even during the summer, which is traditionally the prime time to find a Manhattan rental apartment, NYC apartment inventory is low and the market is, while still comparatively cheap, also surprisingly tight. The Apple Peeled takes a look at this curious and seemingly contradictory real estate trend and tries to make some sense of it.

"This is the time of year when apartments are supposed to open up to new would-be-renters, and yet we keep hearing from countless agents that 'there’s nothing out there,'" the blogger who goes by Red Delicious writes. "Based on our anecdotal research, it seems that many tenants are just not choosing to move this year, and are instead renewing their leases even at slightly higher rents than last year, bucking the flattish year-on-year price trends... Last year was the year when anyone who could move did move, as driven by low rents, over-the-top concessions and plenty of choices." Sounds convincing, but is it true?

Leaving aside the inherent contradiction that is "anecdotal research," the answer is, in your blogger's opinion, probably yes. There are still a good number of no-fee rental listings out there, but certainly the peak of the old renter's market -- most notably those concessions and months of free rent -- are now in the rearview mirror. A couple of months ago, the Wall Street Journal was advising renters to hunt for two-year leases in order to hedge against the (still only rumored) surge in rental prices, and it's probably true that many NYC dwellers -- even those who don't read WSJ -- did just that. But the most heartening part of this development, at least for those looking for luxury rentals in Manhattan, is that prices have remained very renter-friendly, despite a smaller than usual crop of Manhattan rental listings. The Manhattan apartment hunt isn't quite as easy for renters as it was, say, six months or a year ago, but the NYC apartment listings out there are still comparatively cheap. Which is to say: happy hunting.