Bill de Blasio’s New York City has become such an inhospitable place due to the COVID-19 lockdowns and the ongoing civil unrest stemming from Black Lives Matter protests that apartment vacancies in Manhattan have surged to record numbers.
According to Fox Business, the real estate and consulting firm Miller Samuel found that rental listings in the Big Apple have risen 14.5% since August of last year—to a record 15,025. Simultaneously, the vacancy rate has climbed a record 5.1%.
“With a nominal uptick in month over month new lease signings, activity appeared to bottom last month,” said Miller Samuel CEO Jonathan Miller.
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Landlords enticed new tenants by offering the largest share of concessions on record. Slightly more than 54% of new lease signings received concessions, like a month of free rent or payment of brokers’ fees.
Rental prices were down 7.7% from a year ago, including concessions, with the biggest declines occurring in the lower-priced segment of the market.
The average monthly rent for a studio fell 3.5% month-over-month to $2,574. The rate was down 8.6% from last year.
One-bedroom listings, meanwhile, saw prices slide 5.3% versus last year to an average of $3,445 per month.
Prices on Manhattan’s East Side have seen the largest average decline, down 10.6% from a year ago. Average monthly rents have dipped 3.8% year-over-year Downtown, while prices on the West Side and Northern Manhattan have dropped 2.9% and 3.1% on a year-over-year basis, respectively.
The trouble in New York City and whether or not it will once again reclaim its iconic status has been a source of debate for the past month.
In August, hedge fund manager and comedy club owner James Altucher penned a viral blog post declaring that “New York City Is Dead Forever.” His biggest argument for this doomsaying hinged on the prevalence of competent and steady bandwidth that allows people to work remotely from anywhere in the country that they choose.
“In 2008, average bandwidth speeds were 3 megabits per second. That’s not enough for a Zoom meeting with reliable video quality. Now, it’s over 20 megabits per second. That’s more than enough for high-quality video,” argued Altucher. “There’s a before and after. BEFORE: no remote work. AFTER: everyone can remote work.”
“The difference: bandwidth got faster. And that’s basically it,” he continued. “People have left New York City and have moved completely into virtual worlds. The Time Life building doesn’t need to fill up again. Wall Street can now stretch across every street instead of just being one building in Manhattan.”
Altucher’s essay prompted stark emotions from different corners of the internet. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld, a long-time New Yorker, penned an op-ed in The New York Times telling him to “shut up.”
“Oh, shut up. Imagine being in a real war with this guy by your side,” he continued. “Listening to him go, ‘I used to play chess all day. I could meet people. I could start any type of business.’ Wipe your tears, wipe your butt and pull it together. He says he knows people who have left New York for Maine, Vermont, Tennessee, Indiana. I have been to all of these places many, many, many times over many decades. And with all due respect and affection, Are .. You .. Kidding .. Me?!”
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