Empty Manhattan apartments reach record levels, landlords slash rent

The number of apartments listed for rent in Manhattan reached record levels in June, as brokers remained unable to host showings amid the coronavirus pandemic and more renters left the city, according to a new report.

More than 10,000 apartments were listed on the market in June, an increase of 85% over June 2019, according to a report from Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman. The official vacancy rate hit a record 3.67% but is far higher in many buildings, according to brokers.

Analysts say the rising number of empty apartments is due in large part to the lockdown, which prevented brokers from showing apartments until June 22. But the exodus from New York City has left a rising number of vacant apartments and fewer new renters arriving to fill them.

“The state mandate that prevented real estate brokers to physically show property was removed before the last week of the month, not enough time to have a material influence on market conditions,” according to the report.

In an effort to fill all those vacant apartments, landlords are dropping prices and offering ever-larger incentives. The average rental price, including concessions, fell 8% in June, according to the report. A one-bedroom in Manhattan will still cost you an average of $3,400 — more than twice the national average. 

Yet nearly half of all new leases in June came with concessions or discounts, and landlords typically offered free rent for 1½ free months.

The weakest segment of the rental market is large, family-sized rentals. Brokers say many families that normally would be renting in the city have left for the suburbs where they can have a yard and more space.

The number of new leases signed for three-bedroom rentals in Manhattan fell by 42% in June compared with a year earlier. Downtown Manhattan and the East Side are getting hit the hardest, with a 41% decline in rentals downtown and a 49% drop on the East Side. 

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