With vaccine in sight, renters begin to return to NYC

Even though the pandemic drags on, renters are coming back to New York City.

The number of new apartment leases signed in Manhattan last month in November jumped 30% compared to a year ago, according to a new report from Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel.

“We saw a record price drop in rents, about 22%. The largest drop we’ve seen in year-over-year rent since the financial crisis,” said Jonathan Miller, the President and CEO of Miller Samuel, a real estate appraisal firm.

Miller authored the report, which finds that people who left the city are starting to come back because of the great deals and because a vaccine is in sight. Jared Halpern, who’s a licensed realtor for Douglas Elliman, is also a renter himself who took advantage of the pandemic prices.

“During the pandemic, a larger apartment opened up six floors higher. It was about 50% bigger than the current apartment we were in and they put on the market before the pandemic at a price 25% higher than I was able to negotiate,” said Halpern.

Halpern locked in a two-year lease for a large one-bedroom in Murray Hill at $3,750, down from the asking price of $5,000. 

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While renters all across the city are taking advantage of these great deals, there’s another corner of the industry that’s taking a beating, and that’s commercial real estate. Experts say the damage caused by the emptying of office towers is far more significant than they had predicted early in the pandemic.

“We need to recognize that the future of office space is forever changed and while there is still high demand for premier office space, there is an opportunity to convert some of these older, antiquated office buildings to residential uses. And our report suggests that the city could create around 14,000 new apartments including a significant amount of affordable housing,” said Paimaan Lodhi, Senior Vice President, of the Real Estate Board of New York.

Experts tell FOX 5 NY a real estate recovery in Manhattan will likely take several years. Even though there’s an uptick in renters, there’s still a massive supply of empty apartments, and those will take some time to fill.