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Skyrocketing rents in NYC hit a decade high

It’s not just your landlord. If rents always seem to be creeping up, it’s because they are: Last month, Manhattan rents hit their highest price of the past 10 years, according to a new report out today.

Citi Habitats issued the report, revealing that the average Manhattan apartment rented for $3,418 in March, setting a record since the real estate brokerage firm began tracking rents a decade ago. This tops the previous top rent of $3,394, set in May 2007.

Skyrocketing rents are making some New Yorkers rethink what it’s worth to live on the island of Manhattan.

After the rent at Russell Lewis’ studio shot up $300 this spring, he and his girlfriend started shopping for a new place to live. But all they found were a host of other rental studios priced even steeper. “The scariest part was just seeing how high some of the rents have gone,” Lewis, 29, an internal consultant at a bank, told Metro.

Like so many before, the high rents may push them into Brooklyn. They’re now looking at one-bedrooms to buy in Carroll Gardens or Williamsburg.

Kelly Killian, a broker with Bond New York, said her clients are cringing at Upper East Side rents that she says are 5 percent higher than last year.

So far, she said, they “are still trying to stick it out,” adding, “The renters haven’t jumped ship, the die-hard Manhattanites.”

Others agree that the allure of Manhattan — and the ability to write expensive rent checks — has not ebbed, said Yuval Greenblatt, executive vice president at Prudential Douglas Elliman, which also released a report today showing rising rents.

Who’s renting these apartment? New York University and Columbia students are filling some of them, he said.

“The people who are coming to Manhattan all are able to afford it … If you’re studying at NYU or Columbia, you can afford the rent,” Greenblatt said. “Most of these people have the income to support that kind of rent, otherwise they wouldn’t come here.”

Killian added that her clients are often tech-industry successes.

“Prices are going up regardless, because there’s still enough demand to fill in those units,” Greenblatt said.

Studio prices

Average rents for studios in March 2012:

The most expensive places to live in Manhattan: $2,504 Wall Street/Battery Park City $2,500 SoHo/Tribeca $2,415 West Village

The cheapest places: $1,128 Washington Heights $1,292 Harlem $1,619 Morningside Heights

Source: Citi Habitats

High rents turn tenants into owners

Rents are so high, some New Yorkers are opting to buy. Florence Ng at Citi Habitats said her clients are opting to pour money into a mortgage instead of a rent check.

“You have this pool of renters who, like my buyers, have decided that they just don’t want to pay high rents anymore,” she said.

Lawrence Chan, 30, a co-owner of the popular Manchester Pub sports bar in Midtown East, said that he anticipates his Herald Square rent will rise by $200, and now wants to buy instead.

“It’s quite a bit of money, for a place that I don’t really have an emotional attachment to,” Chan told Metro yesterday.