Look (and ask) for NYC housing deals in 2018

You could call 2018 the Year of the Renter in New York City. StreetEasy senior economist Grant Long says rents have been skyrocketing since the end of the financial crisis and finally cooled off last year, putting renters in the driver's seat in 2018. He advises anyone signing a lease this year to ask for a month or two off the front-end.

Rents may even fall on apartments in areas that have a lot of rental construction. So make sure you look around before you sign a lease.

Also be aware of any transportation changes. That will be a big theme, especially in Brooklyn. Grant says a lot of changes are coming up, particularly the L train shutdown looming in 2019. Anyone who signs a lease in 2018 should have a plan for the coming year if they're moving into a neighborhood affected by that shutdown.

On the buy side, homes under $1 million are going to be hot sellers this year. Grant says the "under a million dollars" market is still really competitive, especially for larger homes suitable for raising a family. Anyone thinking about buying a more affordable home should be prepared for a lot of competition in 2018.

With a glut of luxury properties on the market, billionaires might find some bargains in 2018. Grant says deals are out there for people who have an enormous, unending budget.

This townhome on East 69th Street reportedly went into contract at the end of 2017 for $80 million but was once listed at $114 million.

A big change in 2018: for the first time, a Manhattan neighborhood was No. 1 on StreetEasy's list of neighborhoods to watch. West Harlem topped the list this year, followed by Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and Flushing, Queens. Grant says rents are up 7 percent in West Harlem, which has a lot of new residential and commercial development.

Plus, a new Columbia University campus is under construction to the west that will be a beautiful addition to the area in a couple of years.