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When we last checked in on the rental market in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, landlords were offering some enticing deals—on high-end apartments specifically, thanks to a post-recession boom in luxury construction that has created a glut of swanky apartments. For less affluent New Yorkers, though, the news wasn't quite as encouraging: Rents on non-luxury units are climbing, even as the top tier of rents plateaued and landlords offer greater and greater deals up front.
This trend seems to be continuing, although a new report from StreetEasy about the best neighborhoods for negotiating suggests that there is some wiggle room in certain pricey and not-so pricey neighborhoods. The site tracked price cuts to rentals, calculating the median rental discount for all discounted listings throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Topping the list of neighborhoods with the deepest discounts is Red Hook, where the median rent is $2,750, almost exactly the borough median as of the most recent Douglas Elliman market report. StreetEasy found that the median rental discount in Red Hook was nine percent, and that median asking rents had gone down 6 percent there since last year.
Some of the other neighborhoods on the list are pricier, like number two Carnegie Hill, the Central Park-adjacent corner of the Upper East Side, where the median rent is $3,196. StreetEasy found that landlords were offering 6.5 percent discounts on rent there, and rent rates had dropped 4 percent since last year. Number three was Brooklyn Heights, where median rent is $3,100, flat from last year, and the median discount is 6.4 percent.
Jonathan Miller, author of the Elliman report, observes that the housing stock in each of the neighborhoods listed varies quite a bit. This makes it challenging to pinpoint who exactly is best poised to negotiate. For instance, in Bay Ridge (number 10 on the list), there's a high proportion of older, single-family homes, while in East Harlem (number nine), there are more multi-tenant complexes, plus new developments like an 1,100-unit AvalonBay high-rise.
Another metric for determining negotiability is concessions—that is, deals like one or two months of free rent or a landlord-paid broker fee, which don't lower the actual monthly rent but still indicate a landlord's eagerness to rent out a unit. The Elliman report reveals that concessions are up across Manhattan, Brooklyn, and part of Queens—and in Queens, which StreetEasy didn't look at in its calculations, the market share of concessions was five times larger than it was a year ago. This, however, primarily reflects units in large, high-end new developments that landlords are struggling to fill, because so many came onto the market at once.
Whatever your budget is, if you're looking to rent an apartment, it's worth taking a look at our guide to negotiating to see if you can get your landlord to shave a month or two off the rent, provide discounted access to amenities, or even offer a price drop on the actual monthly rent. Note, though, that landlords typically offer concessions to entice renters without their having to drop the rent, which means that they have the option of hiking it beyond the original listing price come lease renewal.
Renters of moderate means looking for a place might want to consider the relatively affordable neighborhoods on StreetEasy's list. In addition to Red Hook, there's Prospect Lefferts Gardens and Bay Ridge, which have been offering median rental discounts of 5.4 and 5.3 percent and have median rents of $2,200 and $2,000, respectively. Given that rents there are already below the borough median and discounts aren't unusual, you may be able to negotiate even further down—and get what passes in New York City for a deal.
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