Let’s start with the obvious: the days of COVID discounts for NYC apartments are long gone. During that time, the loud few — most of whom did not live in Manhattan or the other boroughs — claimed that the city was doomed and would never recover from the mass exodus of those who sought open air and more space.
But New York City came around, just as it has time and time again for centuries. Its latest reopening success story “officially” happened some time last year; the exact moment of that “official” comeback certainly depends on who you ask. But indoor dining returned, outdoor events were held en masse, city workers returned to the office, and eventually Broadway, movie theaters, and other indoor spaces reopened to welcome guests inside again.
That’s the end of the good news for those who want to remain or become a renter on either side of Central Park. As Italian poet Dante Alighieri once wrote, “abandon hope all ye who read on about the rising prices of Manhattan apartment rentals.” Not quite, but you get the drift.
As the city began to rebound last summer(ish), new and former residents began to creep back in. Rental availability became limited and prices increased. That trend has continued since.
The median asking price on both the UWS and UES is up exactly 41.7% from this time last year, according to a recent StreetEasy report. The Upper West Side May median was $4,250 and the Upper East Side was $3,500. The citywide median was $3,349, a record high — and a 34% increase from last year’s near record low.
The one bright spot is that for the first time in 18 months, available inventory has increased. However, the supply “has not increased fast enough to meet demand, and prices have continued to rise,” the report states.
For all the doom and gloom that is the above, there may be brighter days ahead. Or at least some numbers that could indicate that whoever is pushing the pedal to increase already skyrocketing prices may soon need to pump the brakes.
“Manhattan rental inventory bottomed out in December 2021 when only 10,433 rental units were available in the borough. In May of this year, there were 13,933 units available — a 33.5% increase since the low. For context, in May 2019 (a year before the pandemic), Manhattan had 21,881 rental units available, so inventory is still significantly lower than what would be considered a normal spring season,” the report states.
A sign of hope. Just like Dante said.