The median rent in Manhattan reached nearly $3,400 in December, the highest price ever recorded for the typically sleepy month, but slowing lease activity citywide suggests a gradual return to prepandemic norms, according to new market reports.
The median net-effective rent, which includes price concessions from landlords, was $3,392 in December, 21 percent higher than the same time a year ago, and the highest price recorded in the month since at least 2010, when these numbers began to be tracked in New York City, according to the brokerage Douglas Elliman. (The highest median rent was reached in April 2020, when it peaked at $3,540 a month.)
But new signed leases, a measure of demand, were down almost 39 percent from the same time last year, to 3,335 from 5,459, when a rush of mostly affluent renters began returning to the city amid rising vaccination rates, said Jonathan J. Miller, an appraiser and the author of the report.
“December was the first step toward some sign of normalization,” Mr. Miller said. “It’s basically come off a period of massive surge.”
hundreds of thousands of renters who were struggling to stay current even before the pandemic. In December, more than one-eighth of the country’s renters who were behind on payments lived in New York City, said Nancy Wu, the chief economist at StreetEasy.
“Rising rents and low inventory exacerbate the problem,” she said. “And another rush to the rentals market in the coming months will make it more difficult and competitive than ever for New Yorkers to find a suitable, affordable apartment.”
A statewide pause on evictions is set to expire on Jan. 15, and Gov. Kathy Hochul signaled on Tuesday that she will not extend the moratorium again, when she said the pause will conclude “very shortly.” While federal funding for New York’s emergency rental assistance program fell far short of the state’s request, tenants can still apply for help.
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