Back To You, Jimmy: New York Observer On Why Manhattan Rents Are (And Aren't) Too Damn High

We know what you're thinking: is this post just an excuse to break out the Jimmy "Rent Is Too Damn High Party" McMillan image again? Which, honestly, we shouldn't even dignify with a response, but here you go: 1) what a ridiculous accusation, really and 2) yes, but only kind of. But there's more to this post than a wish to recall the fond memories we have of the pioneering karate expert/politician that Luxury Rentals Manhattan endorsed for Governor earlier this year. While we spend a lot of time following the ebb and flow of the market for Manhattan rental apartments -- and some time reminding everyone that rents, while high, are not quite as bad as you might think -- the nature of our work here gives us very little time to look into the how's and why's of Manhattan real estate. Or, as Jimmy might put it, the how's and why's of how NYC apartment rents became too damn high. But as Tom Acitelli writes in a terrific piece for the New York Observer, there are several very good reasons why Manhattan apartment rents seem so damn high -- and also plenty of reasons why NYC rents, while high, are not too damnably so when considered in context.

It's a tough piece to excerpt, since Acitelli goes about knocking down three distinct arguments for the relative damnable highness (or not) of NYC rents. But the three arguments that Acitelli takes on all have it coming -- particularly the specious, small-mindedly conservative claim that rent-stabilized apartments are somehow responsible for high rents gets a good going-over, which is always welcome. Acitelli is similarly convincing on the issue of the scarcity of NYC rental apartments -- not in terms of vacancy rates so much as in terms of there simply not being enough NYC apartments for all the New Yorkers who want them. But he lands his strongest and most convincing points in arguing the one point that any NYC real estate observer would be hard-pressed to knock down -- that Manhattan rental apartments are expensive because New York City is great, and people keep moving here. Unflagging demand, after all, is rarely a cause for low prices.

"It's supply and demand, kids," Acitelli writes. "The surest way for rents to come down in New York is for New York to stop being a desirable place for the young and the restless. You want cheaper rents, move to a dying city (Philly, Detroit); or to one woefully unpopular with creative types or with little FIRE in their economic bellies (pretty much the entire country west of here, east of California and south of Chicago); or to a city that doesn't welcome creative types. That, ladies and gentlemen and Mr. McMillan, is why the rent is too damn high in New York: It's a popular place to live, but with not enough housing, really, for everyone who wants to live here."

True indeed, and enjoyably written as well. Although we do feel compelled to mention that there are places you can look if you're trying to find an apartment for rent in Manhattan. Those apartments are out there. Although if you're at Luxury Rentals Manhattan, you already know this.