New York City was among the first places in the US to be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and with its world-famous museums and bars mostly shut down, renters and buyers started looking to greener, suburban pastures — leaving tons of real estate unclaimed and available for cheap.
Here are the latest housing prices and forecasts so you know what to expect when you hit the market. If you’re a buyer, jump here.
It has never been a better time to be a single renter in the Big Apple. The rental market is booming in NYC, with dirt-cheap prices attracting masses of new leases, the New York Post previously reported.
“It is no surprise that rents have been declining since late March in New York City. They have been declining consistently downward,” said Victor Rodriguez, director of market analytics at the CoStar Group.
Location: Discounts to expect in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens
The best deals in New York City are in Queens, and the best deals in Manhattan can be found on the West Side. Scroll through to see rent discounts in each borough.
Manhattan: Price chops, concessions and discounts — oh my!
Typical Manhattan apartments went for $3,000 in January — almost 17% less than they did last year, according to New York-based brokerage Douglas Elliman.
But the sticker tag isn’t the only thing renters should be looking for. Owners are giving an average of 2.3 months of free rent as concessions compared to only 1.4 months at the same time last year, according to Douglas Elliman.
“Rent has almost stabilized but the amount of concessions continues to increase. That is a key part of the story, that landlords are offering two to three months rent, waiving amenity fees, paying broker costs,” said Rodriguez. “Owners are throwing in every incentive they can.”
The west side is getting the biggest discounts — 20% — compared to only 17% downtown, 12% on the east side, and only 9% in northern Manhattan, according to Douglas Elliman.
But even with record discounts, Manhattan is pricey. For the lowest sticker price, look to Marble Hill ($1,658 a month), followed by Washington Heights ($2,217 a month) and Inwood ($2,305 a month), according to listing site RentCafe.
Selling like hotcakes, but a long way to go.
Manhattans discounts are attracting tons of renters: There were 6,255 new leases in January, almost 60% more than at the same time last year. January was the fourth consecutive month of record-breaking new lease signings, said the Douglas Elliman report.
But even though January was super-hot, 5.33% of apartments were still unoccupied — a huge number compared to only 1.73% at the same time last year, according to Douglas Elliman.
“New York City was quite active in January compared to other months. That’s a good sign, but… the hole that gets dug is so deep that even notable gains still leaves you a good time away to reach where you were pre-pandemic,” said Rodriguez. “January was a good month, but we need like 12 of those to make some headway on this.”
Fewer options and a lot of competition.
But with so much competition from bargain hunters, apartments are getting harder to find. The number of apartments available for lease was down 9.3% in Manhattan, according to Douglas Elliman.
Some analysts say that’s because landlords can’t afford to market them, while others say landlords are “warehousing” them, hoping they’ll get better deals from tenants in a few months.
“Interestingly I have little to show any of my buyers. Some of them are open to extending their current leases until more product comes to market and wider distribution of the vaccine,” said broker Rachel Ostow Lustbader of Warburg Realty.
Brooklyn discounts pale in comparison
Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, the typical apartment is only getting a 13% discount — much lower than the price chops in Manhattan. Experts say that is because Manhattan was hardest-hit by the pandemic and because Brooklyn was less expensive to begin with, according to experts.
Landlords in Brooklyn are offering the equivalent of 2.1 months free rent, up 31.3% compared to last year, but slightly lower than what is being offered in Manhattan, according to Douglas Elliman.
Queens discounts match Manhattan
The best deals are to be found in Northwest Queens, where rent prices are down 17%, matching discounts in Manhattan — but in Queens, apartments were cheaper to begin with.
Landlords are offering the equivalent of 3.4 months free rent, up 88.9% compared to last year and far more than what is being offered in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Experts say the reason for the steep decline is because there are so many new apartments that were recently built in Queens, and now there are not enough residents to fill them.
Notably, three-bedroom apartments are offering the worst discounts, with price per square foot actually increasing 31.9%, according to Douglas Elliman.
Size matters: Big discounts on little apartments
Real bargain hunters are focused on size: As demand for larger apartments rises, studio and one-bedroom apartment prices are still plummeting.
During the coronavirus pandemic, multitudes of office workers have shifted to remote work conditions — which has made them wish they had a little more space. Tiny apartments, which were becoming more popular before, are falling out of vogue — and becoming even cheaper.
“People working from home now want to upgrade with a home office. There is more demand for two bedrooms, and less for studios or one-bedrooms… The steepest declines have been in studios and the one bedrooms, but in two bedrooms, there was a decline but they have stabilized,” said Rodriguez.
But you may want to act fast if you’re looking for a deal: studios and one-bedrooms are on a rebounding trajectory since they bottomed at the end of January, according to Zumper. Two-to-four bedrooms look like they may be beginning a rebound, but it’s too soon to tell.
“If they haven’t hit bottom, not that far away from it. There’s only so far rents can go before you’re just losing money on the property,” said Rodriguez.
Studios: 20%-24% discounts
No matter where you rent in NYC, you’ll get the best discounts on tiny apartments, from 20% discounts for studios in Manhattan to 24% discounts in Brooklyn to 23% discounts for studios in Queens, according to Douglas Elliman.
Nationally, studio prices are down only 2.4% according to California-based listing site Apartment Guide.
One-bedrooms: 15% to 18% discounts
One-bedroom apartments also offer great discounts, from 18% in Manhattan to 15% in Brooklyn to 18% in Queens, according to Douglas Elliman.
Nationally, one-bedroom rental prices are actually up 1.8%, according to Apartment Guide.
Two-bedrooms: 10% to 15% discounts*
Even two-bedroom apartments are getting a 14.5% discount in Manhattan and a 10% discount in Brooklyn.
*Though two-bedrooms went for a 28% discount in Queens, the Queens high discount rate is due to the smaller apartment-sized being rented — the discount per square foot only 15%,” according to Douglas Elliman.
Nationally, two-bedrooms are 3.8% more expensive, according to Apartment Guide.
Three-bedrooms: Hidden price increases
Three-bedrooms also appear to have gotten cheaper (18%-26% discounts) at first glance. But like in Queens two-bedrooms, that is because only the smallest three-bedrooms are getting tenants.
Comparing median discounts per square foot, Manhattan got 15.5% off on three-bedrooms, while Brooklyn and Queens were more expensive: There was a 0.6% price hike in Brooklyn and a 32% premium in Queens compared to last year, according to Douglas Elliman.
Nationally, three-bedrooms are up 4.2% from last year, according to Apartment Guide.
Luxury apartments holding steady in Manhattan, folding in Queens
Manhattan’s ultra-luxury apartments (starting at $6,500 a month) didn’t get the same steep discounts the rest of the city did. They stayed about the same price as they were last time last year — about $9,000 a month, according to Douglas Elliman.
In Brooklyn, ultra-luxury apartments (at least $4,600 a month) got about a 10% discount on average, slightly less than the 13% discount for typical Brooklyn apartments.
Queens ultra-luxury apartments (at least $3,700) actually matched the discounts offered on other property types in Queens — about 17% off, according to Douglas Elliman.
Buyers can find great deals — sometimes
There are historic discounts to be had in New York City — if you know where to look. Keep reading to find out what property types are getting the best discounts.
Manhattan condos and townhomes are getting massive price cuts; Meanwhile, it’s business as usual for Brooklyn and Queens, with a few exceptions.
Aspiring Manhattanites get a 20% discount
Manhattan homes typically sold for about $1.345 million in January, almost 20% less than at the same time last year. January was the sixth month of double-digit year-over-year price declines, according to Realtor.com data.
Price cuts are attracting buyers. In January, co-op sales were up 167%, condo sales were up 50% and townhome sales were up 100%, according to Douglas Elliman.
But, like in the rental market, that doesn’t make up for major pre-existing losses in the market. Homes are still spending an average of 122 days on the market, the slowest rate since July 2020 and about 5% slower than at the same time last year, according to Realtor.com.
And more sellers are trying to get rid of their Manhattan houses: There are 45% more houses on the market than at the same time last year, according to Realtor.com. The glut of inventory is pushing down prices, according to experts.
Looking for the bottom-line cheapest option? The lowest-cost homes are in Washington Heights, at about $589,000 on average. The most expensive are in Soho at $2.8 million on average, according to Realtor.com.
Brooklyn buyers forego discounts
Meanwhile, Brooklyn homes typically listed for under $800,000 in January — about the same price point seen last year, according to Realtor.com.
And yet, purchases were robust, up 110%-160% for most property types, according to Douglas Elliman.
Brooklyn is missing out on discounts in part because there are too many homes on the market — up 40% from the same time last year, according to Realtor.com. The availability of homes on the market is pushing prices down where they might otherwise rise.
The most expensive homes in Brooklyn are in Park Slope at $1.5 million, and the cheapest are in Midwood, according to Realtor.com.
Hot, hot, hot: Brooklyn townhouses
Notably, Brooklyn townhouse purchases are up 480%, three and four times more than demand hikes for any other property type. But they’re hard to get: listings are down 12.6%, according to Douglas Elliman.
“I have seen more demand for brownstones, too, especially in Brooklyn, where the market seems to be on fire. There is more demand for properties with outdoor space, and bigger apartments where buyers can carve out home office space as well,” said Melissa Cohn, executive mortgage banker at William Raveis Mortgage.
Queens stays relatively cheap as ever
Like Brooklyn, Queens homes have not received substantial price cuts — they are still selling for about $555,000. Still, Queens is the most affordable borough in New York City.
Queens also has too many homes for sale — about 25% more than there were in January of last year. They are moving about 7% slower than last year, typically staying on the market about 92 days before selling.
The cheap to the pricey — the market by tiers
The least expensive properties were hot in January, while mid-tier and luxury properties also offered stunning discounts in certain locations.
“You have a mix of buyers, from first-time homebuyers to those looking to upgrade. Right now, I think that being opportunistic is the thread that brings them all together,” said Warburg Realty broker Gill Chowdhury.
Homes under $1 million
Data providers don’t break down home listing discounts by tier, but sales are booming for properties under $1 million in New York City — up 117% in Manhattan and up 153% in Brooklyn, according to Douglas Elliman data. Queens data is not available.
Brooklyn townhouses between $500K and $1 million stole the show: Sales were up 950% in January compared to the same time last year, according to Douglas Elliman.
“The one-bedroom market is doing quite well in Brooklyn, as is the townhouse market,” said Warburg Realty agent Christopher Totaro.
Homes for $1 million to $5 million
Properties in the $1 million to $5 million market were up 105% in Manhattan and 230% in Brooklyn.
Though Brooklyn’s mid-tier sales were robust, they were capped at the lower end. Co-op sales between $1 million and 2 million were up 157%; nothing above that sold. Condo signings between $2 million and $4 million were up 275%; nothing above that sold. Single-family sales of $4 million to $5 million were up 100%; nothing above that sold.
Homes above $5 million
The $5 million to $9 million range was up 63% in Manhattan. In Brooklyn, they halted altogether: there were no contracts at that level, according to Douglas Elliman.
Ultra-luxury homes over $10 million were not particularly popular buys, either. Manhattan had 14% more sales at the highest price point in January than there were last year, but there were no ultra-luxury Brooklyn sales in January, according to Douglas Elliman.