“We’re seeing declines across all apartment sizes. It’s not like it’s only studios. Everything is generally weaker,” said Jonathan J. Miller, the president of Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers and Consultants and the author of the Douglas Elliman report.
This translates to a market where renters, not apartments, are in demand. Here is what you need to know to strike a deal in a market primed for them.
Not All Neighborhoods or Apartments Are Equal
The city is not monolithic, and neither is the decline in rent. A StreetEasy report found that while rents have fallen 1.9 percent in neighborhoods least impacted by the pandemic, they have actually ticked up 0.3 percent in neighborhoods most heavily hit, like Corona, Queens.
“It’s really a tale of two cities in New York,” said Nancy Wu, a StreetEasy economist.
With so many people working from home, neighborhoods like Long Island City and the financial district, which once lured commuters, are losing out to ones with more space or lower prices, like Ridgewood or Elmhurst, Queens. “People are moving out further and further to neighborhoods that they wouldn’t have considered” before the pandemic, Ms. Wu said.
Deals are still to be had even in these neighborhoods. Michael Johnson, a spokesman for the Community Housing Improvement Program, or CHIP, a trade group for 4,000 building owners and managers, said his organization’s members are offering an average of 1.4 months of free rent in buildings across the city. “Don’t get caught up on geography,” he said. “It’s more about the price point of the apartment.” Apartments that would have fetched a premium in any neighborhood, like those that have been recently renovated or are in newer buildings, are the ones most likely to see discounts.
If you’re looking for a deal, consider an apartment with a flaw that other renters might not be willing to accept, like a walk-up, or a location far from the train and services. “If there is something you can deal with that other people can’t, like a dark room, you’re in the driver’s seat for negotiation,” said Noble Novitzki, the chief operating officer of Nooklyn, a rental brokerage.