Manhattan rental market still tough for those seeking smaller apartments, report says

The Manhattan rental market is a little more favorable for renters than it was last summer, according to a real estate report released Thursday, but that won’t necessarily make it any easier to find an apartment.

Douglas Elliman found that the median Manhattan rental price rose just .9% year-over-year from $3,418 in July 2015 to $3,450 last month, and the vacancy rate rose from 2.48% to 2.49%, a nine-year high for July.

But the growing vacancy rate is mostly due to units in new luxury developments coming to the Manhattan market, rather than from apartments in older buildings being freed up, according to Jonathan Miller, CEO of the real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel Inc., which distributes the Douglas Elliman reports.

This is leaving renters looking for smaller digs in older developments with fewer options than those who can afford to live in bigger apartments in new buildings, he said.

Similarly, while prices are declining for units with three bedrooms and up, which are more commonly found in new developments, they are rising in the studio and one-bedroom market.

According to the report, the median rental price for Manhattan studios rose 2.6% from $2,550 in July 2015 to $2,616 last month, and for one-bedrooms it rose 2.3% from $3,374 to $3,450.

Meanwhile, the median rental price for three-bedrooms in Manhattan fell 1.8% from $5,422 in 2015 to $5,325 last month.

“You have this polarization where you have more upward price pressure at the entry level than there is at the top of the market,” Miller said. “Most new development has been skewed to the upper end and the remainder of the market is essentially static, and yet demand [for it] is rising.”