Friday, June 10, 2022

The Post-COVID Era NYC Rental Market

via Unsplash

I don't know about your neck of the woods, but here in NYC the rental market has gone completely bananas! We got a sweet deal on our previous lease renewal last summer, thanks to the lingering effects of COVID on NYC rents, but those renter-friendly days are definitely long over

Within a few months after last year's lease term started, I was already noticing that rents in Manhattan were climbing back up, eventually increasing by early 2022 to the point where it was almost like COVID never happened. Around 2019, market rents in my not-particularly-hip neighborhood had suddenly skyrocketed over the original not-terrible-for-Manhattan norms that had prevailed since K and I first moved into our current building in late 2015. So when I say the local rental market looks as if "COVID never happened," I'm talking about fairly significant increases over the most recent high water mark of rents (from early 2020, before the COVID shutdowns). 

I was commiserating about the state of the rental market to a close law school friend who lives not too far from K and I. Both of us were bracing for some really painful lease renewal offers from our respective landlords. Somewhat... luckily, I guess we need to call it, even if the result is still a ~18% rent increase compared to last year for both of us... we both actually ended up being... pleasantly surprised by the offers we received. Despite that ~18% increase, both offers are also significantly under market compared to what new leases currently go for in our buildings. (Each landlord also made it extremely clear our offers left absolutely no room for negotiation. It's take it or leave it!) 

It's hard to get a perfect read on what market rates look like right this moment. Listed rents on StreetEasy for one-bedroom apartments in my neighborhood recently shot up by $300+ since the last time I looked in earnest, around four weeks ago when we were considering whether to accept our lease renewal offer. If current listing prices on StreetEasy are serious - I'm embarrassed to say I've never been great at negotiating personal business matters, so I don't know have any read on how much flexibility there might be on new leases - market rents on comparable units are possibly 35%+ more than my COVID-discount rent from last year, and ~17.5% more than I'm paying for my renewed lease, which K and I signed barely three weeks ago! 

If you're a renter, how's the rental market looking where you are? I hear things are pretty tough in a lot of big cities in the US, there may actually be some cities out there that have seen more dramatic recent rent increases than NYC at the moment. 

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