Manhattan rents plunge as coronavirus drives vacancies to record

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Record vacancies dropped Manhattan apartment rental prices to their lowest levels in seven years as tenants continued to flee the city amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The ability to work from home during the pandemic has caused many New Yorkers to flee Manhattan for the more socially distant suburbs.

The number of apartment listings tripled from a year earlier to 15,923, the most since record-keeping began in 2006, according to a report released Thursday by appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. The vacancy rate reached 5.75%, a fifth straight month with a record.

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“New leases reached their prior-year level as vacancy rates and listing inventory set new records,” said Miller Samuel CEO Jonathan Miller.

A record 55% of new leases signed in September received landlord concessions, enticing renters with free rent, payment of broker fees and other incentives.

Including those freebies, median rent fell 11% year over year in September to $3,036 per month, the lowest since July 2013. Prices were down 4% from August.

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Studios saw the biggest decline in rents with the median price down 13% from a year ago to $2,350 per month. One-bedroom prices fell 11% to $3,195.

A morsel of strength appeared in two-bedroom pricing, where the median edged up 0.6% to $4,400.

The luxury market, which accounts for the top 10%, offered far fewer concessions and prices slid 3% year-over-year to a median $8,216.

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By location, Northern Manhattan saw the biggest price decline with the median off 9.9% to $2,208. Prices on the West Side fell 9.6% to $3,300 and Downtown dropped 7.8% to $3,595. On the East Side, prices were off 5.3% to $3,079.

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