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Median Manhattan rents hit a plateau in August: report

The rent was too damn high — and then it hit a plateau.

Following multiple months of Manhattan rents reaching brand new, and dizzying, heights, the median figures began to cool down and level out in August.

That’s according to the just-released Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel market report that tracks price trends in Manhattan, Brooklyn and parts of Queens. In August, the report shows, the Manhattan median rent lowered slightly to $4,100 per month — a decrease of $50 month-over-month, though still a 26% jump from the $3,255 median tallied in August 2021.

Meanwhile, the average Manhattan rent still continued a climb. That figure hit $5,246 in August — a 2.6% increase from July’s $5,113 average and 28.1% above the $4,094 recorded in August 2021.

Manhattan rents were on a record tear since February.
Tina Gallo/Douglas Elliman/Mega

In general, median rent — the mid point of total price samples — is considered the more reliable figure. The average is the sum of all prices divided by the number of them.

From February forward, rents began reaching a territory they had never before seen. In May, the median hit a jaw-dropping $4,000 for the first time ever. In June, the average crossed the $5,000 threshold — also a first in city history.

All told, prices began their climb around this time last year — becoming clear especially when tenants began seeing massive rent hikes for renewals after scoring sweet COVID-era deals, when rents plunged to record lows.

Despite some six months of record-level climbs, rents began rising in Manhattan around this time a year ago.
Despite some six months of record-level climbs, rents began rising in Manhattan around this time a year ago.
Christopher Sadowski
Bidding wars for available units are still present.
Bidding wars for available units are still present.
Christopher Sadowski
Median rents fell month-over-month in Queens.
Median rents fell month-over-month in Queens.
AP

Over the course of those months in which prices soared, the reasons behind the increases stayed constant. Not only had locals continued returning to the city from their pandemic escapes as schools reopened — and increasingly as offices reopen for hybrid arrangements — but also out-of-town remote workers began arriving in town to take advantage of locational flexibility. But as mortgage rates have risen to combat inflation, would-be homebuyers — now facing higher costs of borrowing money — have turned instead to the rental market to wait things out.

That said, Manhattan saw 5,844 new leases in August, marking a 9.9% increase from the 5,318 deals inked in July — though a 28.7% drop from the 8,201 in August 2021 when prices remained much lower. Month-over-month, listing inventory — or the number of available homes — generally remained constant with 6,713 in August, less than 1% more than July’s 6,669.

Across all three city areas surveyed, listing inventory hit a total of 11,156. In May, for instance, less than 10,000 units were up for grabs. (The previous May saw a shocking inventory of just more than 35,000 units for rent.) Bidding wars for rentals, which began emerging in earnest as rents surged this year, still remain. In Manhattan and Brooklyn, one of every five new leases entered a bidding war — or 20% in each place. In northwest Queens, home to prime Long Island City and Astoria, one of every four new leases, or 25%, saw a bidding war happen.

For Brooklyn, the report’s authors highlights include a still-increased median rental price: $3,500, or 2.9% above July’s $3,400 and 25% above last August’s $2,800. That’s still a new high for the borough. Meanwhile, northwest Queens took a step away from record highs. There, the median dipped 2.6% month-over-month to $3,065 from $3,146. Still that’s 13.7% above last August’s $2,696.

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